And so, after nearly 12 weeks, we are home again. It is a Friday morning in our little street, a sunny late summer sky over the high pines in our peaceful neighborhood, when we pull up in front of our house with a taxi laden with four tired, suntanned and flip-flopped travel bums and their luggage.
The trip back had been easy and comfortable. For the first time in our lives, we have allowed ourselves the luxury of traveling business class which really made the return very smooth all the way from checking in at the international terminal at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport, through the lay-over at Frankfurt’s Lufthansa business lounge, until claiming our baggage in Berlin Tegel.
The morning of our departure from Atlanta we had spent with heavy hearts, packing up our things one last time, anticipating each stage of our trip back, and spending a list dip at my friend Ben’s neighborhood’s pool to power out the kids a little before they would have to sit still again for long hours. Before we head to the airport, my friend Ben takes us to a real Texan barbeque lunch at the nearby “Fox Bros.”. You cannot leave Atlanta, before having been there…
Ben then takes us to the airport. We quiet down, the more we approach it. Saying goodbye is inevitable. Time stands still for a moment, as we hug tear-shaken and heart-broken with so many thoughts running through my head and feelings through my heart. All of those impressions of the last three months, the heart-felt friendship participated with so many, and the knowledge that it is just not all that easy to repeat all of this in the near future, as especially with young families with children of school-age, traveling across the Atlantic just doesn’t happen all the time and all that easy. A proverb my grandmother likes to use in such circumstances comes to my mind:
“Partir, c’est toujours mourir un peu.” – “To leave, is to die a little.”
But coming home feels re-vitalizing, especially with the welcome that has been prepared for us: Our house is decorated with welcome posters and garlands from neighbors, from our children’s old kindergarten group and from my parents, who have mailed their welcome home-garland to our next-door neighbors who hung it up in the early morning. The front yard is exploding with summer flowers which neighbors (and the rainy Berlin summer) have been so kindly taking care of during our absence, the grass has been freshly mown by a sweet soul. A big bunch of summer flowers with a greeting card saying “We have missed you, but now all’s well” awaits us on our dining room table together with another welcome poster and gifts from house guests that have filled our house with life during our absence. As we get out of the taxi, neighbors step out of their houses to greet us with open arms and smiling faces. “How good that you’re back!” “Can we make you a coffee?”. How sweeter can a return to home possibly be?
And after having started to unpack and settling back in with a walk through the woods to our nearby lake which cools us off nicely and carries us gently under the Berlin late summer sky, a comforting feeling drizzles peacefully through my heart by the end of the day, as I am preparing dinner on the grill in our little garden under our majestic pine-trees with their wide-stretching branches, dark green needles, and red stems in the setting sun: It feels just like another very special stage of our journey.
This trip is not over. While this blog has already served well to pack up certain memories of the various stages of our journey, I sense that much remains to be told and shared as the impressions of the last three months slowly sink in and fall into place. Long story short: “My American Guitar” will continue to sound. So stay tuned if you like, once we have slept off our jet-lagg and aired out our suitcases.