Expat Diaries: the joy in between / the next good day
It seems pretty apt that this is my choice of post this week. Germany has entered “Lockdown Light” from today – similar to Bud Light or Coors Light. Beer, but not really BEER. You can go outside, but not really for anything good. Funny, because public consumption of alcohol has also been limited under the new rules.
Anyway, I digress. Here are some thoughts on joy and gratitude and what my next Good day will look like. If you haven’t read my previous post on the last Good day, go read that first!
the joy in between.
There have been good days since that last Good day, of course. But Good days (capital G) are a long way off. The end is not near, my friends. Not even a little bit close. There are tunnels and dark alleyways full of rats we have to work through first.
But we must take joy in the little things when and where we can.
Most of my joy, much like the rest of the world, has come from exploring nature. Was it just me, or did all the colours of spring and summer and even autumn seem so much brighter and bolder this year? The trees were pinker, greener, redder than I have ever known. The sky clear enough for us all, even those of us in cities, to gaze up and marvel at. Like nature was putting on a display for us. Thanking us for slowing down, for limiting our use of air-polluting vehicles, and for consuming a little less of that which harms the earth. Not enough, of course. There’s still a long climate change fight ahead of us. But we were forced to make a start. And a start is, after all, a start.
I fell in love. I was already in love, of course. But the increased time together that we had forced upon us was a blessing, not a curse, as it has been for so many others. And I have fallen in love again, and again, and again. Every month, something new. Always for the same person. My partner, not my other half. We were both whole and independent, to begin with. My best friend. Someone who supports me, and I, him. Someone who I feel comfortable hashing out all of my creative ideas with, knowing that he will truthfully tell me what will work and what won’t. Someone who, when I say I don’t feel well, fully understands that I don’t mean physical pain, but that unexplainable emotional and mental pain. Someone who knows that in those times, the only thing he can really do for me is to give me a bear hug and let me cry.
Sometimes I feel bad for flaunting this fact. So many couples have fallen apart under the increased strain of spending too much time together. But I also feel lucky. Lucky that I managed to get something right. Lucky that, even though we are over 1000km from our most loved, I feel safe and secure right here with him.
I have also found joy in yoga, learning that it is possible to articulate and manipulate my body into new perspectives. In books, jumping and diving into other worlds and universes, while also learning more about the one we live in. And in the simple act of waking every morning, taking three deep breaths, looking up at the skies and out to the world. I am here. I am alive. I am surviving. I have hope.
the next Good day.
It will be glowing golden with warmth.
Even if by some miracle, it is deemed safe for me to return to my family during these cold winter months, it will still be warm. Warm with love and hugs that will caress all of our lives.
Smiles, tears, the purest happiness. We will all have a glow about us like never before. We will all be drowning in warmth.
I have my cross country route planned. From the moment we disembark in Kent, every second of every minute is filled with warmth.
My paternal Grandparents first, cups of teas all round! I will show them photos of our travels, of our new lives. I will kindly answer their questions about their stereotypes of the German people and confirm that yes, they do in fact eat a lot of sausage and drink a lot of beer, but no, they are not mean and cold and unfriendly. We will discuss the strangeness of the past year (or years), the way we were thrown at full speed into those “unprecedented” times. But somehow we are still surviving.
My maternal Grandmother next, although we call her Nan. A big hug is reserved for her. She has made it through this lonely and alone. My uncle, who is her closest immediate relative, has of course helped and visited when and where he can. My sister and I have called regularly to check in on her. But ultimately, she has been alone. And so we spend hours upon hours catching up. I have printed my photos out to show her – old school I know, but she doesn’t have the internet so has been unable to visually keep up with our lives on Facebook and Instagram.
From here, the South East, we make our way to Hereford. Home.
We haven’t told the rest of our family and friends that we are coming. We are a surprise. And so we start with our parents. Knocking on doors and waiting for inevitable screams of happiness followed by hugs followed by tears. The tightest hug and the most tears saved especially for my baby sister (who is actually 23). I have missed her the most. Red wine, prosecco, beer will all flow a little too well. And we will eat chip shop chips from paper bags with far too much salt on them. Even though we have all spoken regularly on the phone and over a video call, we will still happily retell all of our stories and show all of our photos, leaving no detail out.
From family to friends. More red wine and more prosecco. The smiles and laughter will make our jaws ache and we will be way too loud, but we will have not a care in the world. It feels too good too all be back together again, in the gym, in the restaurant, in the bar. Finally, I can hug those who have announced engagements and pregnancies and even births during this time. More hugs, more love, more warmth.
Finally, we make our way up north to visit Zac’s grandparents and extended family. Further big hugs and kisses and welcomes. Further retellings of these stories that now seem like age-old tales to us. But we don’t mind. How can we mind? Today is The Good Day. More tea, more food, more love, more warmth…
These posts never do as well in terms of engagement as my language and travel posts do – and that’s understandable. BUT these are the posts I love to create the most. I have always loved to write and it is literally my childhood dream to be a published author. So since I have this platform up and running, I will occasionally slip in some of my favourite personal essays. It’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to.
bis zum nächsten Mal / until next time,
Thanks for this beautiful piece of writing. Your sense of hope really comes through and it is so lovely to read!