When B and I married, one of the first things we did was take a road trip from Minot to Baltimore in order to ship our car and get on a plane to Germany. As we traveled across the US, we bid farewell to his friends and family as well as collected advice. Now, while most of that pertained to living our lives as newlyweds and getting settled as a family unit in a foreign country, the advice that has stuck with me the most came from my mother-in-law.
We were sitting in the kitchen, she was relating the story of when she and Dad D moved to Texas. When he was in the FBI, he put down that he wanted to work in the Western US and they got stationed in Dallas. She told me that her biggest regret was that they didn’t take advantage of traveling around that part of the US. They got locked down in just staying in Dallas and working. She implored us to take every opportunity to travel that we could.
I truly feel like we lived up to that in Germany. We were constantly traveling around to different festivals for beer, wine, sausage, and Christmas. We took at least one weekend a month to go on a more extensive trip. We made sure to take every opportunity that we could. It made the experience of living there. It’s easy to overlook the cultural differences and irritations when you’re visiting a new and amazing location every month.
When we moved here and people would talk about hating it here, I repeated my mantra of, “it is what you make of it,” again and again. I insisted that every location had its perks, you just had to look harder for some than others. But we fell in to the trap of not going. Not doing. Not seeing. We’ve been here for nine months now, and besides the numerous trips to the beach, we’ve taken exactly one tour/trip to go see something. To be fair, I’ve also gone to Prague, we’ve made two trips to Germany, and we’ve traveled to the US in that time frame too, which does eat up leave and funds, but still. I don’t want us to look back on our time here with the regret that we let our expat fatigue and general weariness of this life keep us from experiencing the beauty that this country does have to offer.
We have plans this weekend to go hiking. Only 45 minutes from base, there’s this cool castle up on a hill. No regulated path. No guard rails. Just a meandering trail, stunning views, and a rough hike. I’m excited. See, I’ve got the itch again. I’m ready to get out and see what there is to see out here. I’m ready to take advantage of living in a country that isn’t the US. We’ve only got 15 more months here and then it’s back to living Stateside. I want to make the most of every opportunity while we’re still over here.