Monday, August 21, 2006

Things I will miss

Yesterday while sitting next to my boyfriend in his car, and taking the familiar route to his post, I suddenly realized that all these things that are now familiar, will soon be just memories, things that I will grapple with, trying to remember the exact layout of places, etc. Before leaving his apartment, I took photos of every room, so that if I ever wanted to take a trip down memory lane, I would have it at my fingertips.

Germany is more to me than just somewhere I lived for a while. In many ways it is more my home than the US is. I haven’t really lived in the US since I was 18. So I know that I am in for some culture shock.

So I was also trying to think of all the things I will miss about Germany. Household6 and Allicadem started the list for me: good drivers and good food. And I was thinking of a few more that I will particularly miss:

1. Despite being a socialist country in comparison with the US, Germans have a better sense of personal responsibility and don’t play the victim as much as I think some portion of Americans do. I am sure there are many exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, overall, people seem to feel more in control of their own destiny than blaming others for their circumstances. A small example of this is, if someone trips on the sidewalk here, because a cobblestone is out of place, they don’t immediately screech that they will sue the city. Instead they just look a little embarrassed. Or I can remember another time, when a friend went to get a haircut, and the haircutter snipped his ear, and it was really bleeding. Maybe I am really showing my Los Angeles roots here, but the first thing I think of when I hear that is: “lawsuit”. But no, my friend just said: “wow, I am NEVER going there again!” Done, basta, you move on in life. There aren’t loads of frivolous lawsuits here. And despite many people saying that Europe is just 10 years behind the US, in the 9+ years I have been here, I haven’t seen any increased tendency in that direction.

2. The food. I will elaborate more on the food. I miss the fact that when you order something here, it comes out less processed than it would in America. I think it is sad that a whole generation of Americans think that Velveeta is cheese. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing better than a grilled cheese sandwich made of Wonder Bread and Velveeta, but there is nothing “cheese-like” to Velveeta.

Cheese is “a solid food made from the curdled milk of cows, goats, sheep, water buffalo or other mammals. The milk is curdled using some combination of rennet (or rennet substitutes) and acidification. Bacteria acidify the milk and play a role in defining the texture and flavor of most cheeses.”
I am pretty sure that hardly any of the above description applies to Velveeta, and much of its dairy cousins.

So, I will miss that when I order some food in a restaurant it will arrive pretty close to resembling its original form, and devoid of preservatives.

3. Dairy products
Just play a game here with me: go to an American supermarket, and try to find a full fat flavored yogurt. You will surely find 5+ different brands of yogurt, like Danone, Yoplait, and Co. and they will have pretty much every favor imaginable from Strawberry Cheesecake to Blueberry Pie…but I dare you to find something with 4% fat. Nope. Everything will be either 99% fat free or even just plain fat free.
To find normal flavored yogurts, like the ones Yoplait made when I was a kid, I have to go to Whole Foods.
Germany on the other hand, has a plethora of dairy products waiting to be had. Yes, they certainly have a few low fat products, but for the most part, they have normal fat content foods. And they taste good, and don’t have thickeners or emulsifiers, or guar gum, or all those other things that seem to be standard yogurt ingredients in the states.

Now this isn’t all I will miss, but if I were to write all the things I will miss, this post will go on forever. I am sure that once I get back to Germany, my "oh, how I miss Germany" posts will start in earnest.

But what struck me today, was that Germany will always have a special place in my heart, because it is where I met my boyfriend. So far, the stage for our relationship has been, for the most part, Germany. Most of the cherished memories I have of our relationship: the first time we met, our first kiss, sitting at that table, in that café, the train stations we picked each other up from, the post I went onto for his homecoming from Afghanistan, trips taken together, driving in the car, grocery shopping (yes, I am still at that la-la point in the relationship where the mere act of grocery shopping is a fond memory), cooking together, watching DVDs, etc, have all taken place here.

Places hold many memories for me, and I won't be able to revisit these memories with those visual cues anymore. I won't be able to stare at a bench, and see before my eyes, us, 2 years ago, having some silly flirty conversation. Or stand before the Cologne trainstation and remember observing him, before I knew who he was. Or sit in the Altstadt at the same cafe where we had some beers. Or go to the zoo and remember our date there.

And in less than 2 weeks, I will be leaving. Leaving to embark on a new stage, and create new memories, but also leaving behind good friends and good memories.


Blogger Stacy Kaye said... IS hard to leave things behind. I know it's not as different to come from the US to Canada but I missed things I left behind there. It's hard to leave behind friends and memories and, like you said, those places. Sometimes I still struggle with the fact that no one here has really known me for longer than three years besides Kevin. They don't know who I was in college or what I was like in high school or who I was as a little girl. Sometimes that is tough. It is tough to try to describe for them where I came from or to try to explain how I could spend hours driving around in a car with my high school friends and think it was fun...they just don't get it. I'm sure that you will experience people just not getting certain aspects of your life in Germany...I hope that the transition goes well though.

A few side notes:
1. I know what you mean about processed foods. I LOVE living in Canada for that reason alone. There are the processed foods in some ways, but as a whole the country is much more health conscious. I noticed it more when I was living in Oregon for a bit this summer while Kev went to school. I didn't realize what it was like back in the States until I hadn't lived there for awhile. Interesting!

2. We've been married more than two years now, doing the daily events of life and I STILL love grocery shopping with Kev! It's one of my favorite things to do together! Am I still in La la land? Maybe...maybe not!

3. Even though you will not be able to physically go to those places where you ahve all of those memories with your man, you will remember them anyway. I STILL remember clearly the muggy feeling in the air, the sounds of the night around us, and the roughness of the steps we were sitting on when Kevin and I had our first unending conversation on the steps of our little bungalow in China that first summer we met. I don't even actually have a picture of those steps, but I sure haven't forgotten them! I hope that you can remember all of your special places as well!

Have fun being back in the States! I hope all goes well for you!

11:46 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

I think we all leave a little part of ourselves behind in every place that has meaning for us...although I only lived in Germany for three years, there are things I miss. I miss the simplicity of European life and the different priorities of the people. I hope to one day go back and enjoy it again...until then, I'm glad to be in America. After all, it's home and I believe there's no other place quite like it ;) Welcome back!

12:47 AM  
Blogger bee said...

What a great entry! And European yogurt, mmmm!

3:13 AM  
Blogger Jon and Billie said...

Great Post! I've been working on my "What I'll Miss" post myself. There are so many things so Iwon't write too much on here since it will be a post later on. I absolutely agree with Nicole. The European lifestyle is so different and slower compared to many American lifestyles. So weird to think I'll be moving from the Germany mind-set to NY where it's the busiest in the world :)

And I will second Bee's response: Yogurt is soooooo yummy!!! I love the kind in the jar. Gosh I'll miss that stuff!

11:45 AM  
Blogger MQ said...

I think it's wonderful that you had the opportunity to actually live in another country. And FYI, Yo Baby yogurt has FULL FAT!! It's for kids ( I buy it for my two year old) but it's full fat and organic! Bonus! :)

Good luck~

4:01 AM  
Blogger Valley Girl said...

Girl, can I just tell you how much I relate to your complaint about the food? And I don't even live in Germany -- I'm talking about the food you get in virtually every restaurant these days that no longer tastes like food, but like a chemically-rendered version of what the food should taste like.

Come to Valleygirl's house girl -- I will cook you up something good. I actually prefer my own cooking to eating out now. Snobby or what?

12:17 AM  

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