Monday, June 11, 2012

Be Careful What You Wish

In August, my family and I are moving to a new apartment in Berlin. This new place really feels like home—Lennon will have his own room, I will get an office and sewing space, there is a big, beautiful bathtub, an updated kitchen, and the building’s live-in owners—who happen to be friends of ours with a child Lennon’s age—are planning on installing grass and a swing set in the private Hof out back. Our new apartment really answers several requests I have flung out into the universe over the past two years. I feel incredibly lucky to have the stars align in such a way to provide us with the perfect home at the perfect time.

Be careful what you wish.

The night after viewing the new place, falling in love with it, and determining that we could in fact afford it, I tossed and turned in bed, haunted by an aching anxiety. Our current apartment has always been a temporary one. We’ve done a lot of cosmetic fixes to make it livable and a space we’re proud of, but it’s lack of a bathtub—shower only—and it’s single bedroom, made us know that we couldn’t stay here forever with a child. This neighborhood isn’t our ideal, either. Calling it trashy is being kind. We’ve been passively looking for a new place for about a year, so finding the ideal one now didn’t come as a surprise, but the reality of moving into a more long-term home brought to the surface how attached I’d been to ‘temporary,’ at least as far as Berlin is concerned.

Nicholas and I have always talked about how Berlin is the right choice for us now—how ever long now decides to be—with his teaching becoming increasingly more fulfilling, my PhD in progress, the great healthcare in Germany, the benefits here for raising a child, and Berlin’s international schools. Someday, we’ll return to the U.S., but armed with a truly compelling reason to leave Berlin. I have agreed with all these plans and believed them, but when given a brick and mortar version of not-so-temporary Berlin, I realized I’d been in denial. Secretly, in my heart, I saw my family back in the U.S. much sooner than our plans. Because this wasn’t really a conscious, well thought-out vision, the logistics of leaving Berlin were not included. Leaving now, or anytime in the near future, would result in painful sacrifices for us—me not finishing my PhD or being able to stay home to care for our son, for example. Nonetheless, I have been resistant to fully embracing our life here. To be fair, Berlin can be rough: not fully knowing the language, the dreary winters, and the general culture shock of living in a foreign country validate my hesitation to jump right in. But how can you truly embrace and immerse yourself in a city when your heart is secretly living somewhere else?

I probably wasted a lot of time in Berlin giving it the ‘temp’ treatment, but I’m ready to change.

First step includes some housekeeping: I need to finally let go of pictures I’ve been carrying that depict a life I’m not living: images of California, of taking my son to the pumpkin patch in Half Moon Bay, him sitting on Santa’s lap at a big, American department store, us all wearing shorts in January, and most of all, him seeing his grandparents on a weekly basis. As pretty as those pictures are, they’re fiction and a distraction from all the wonderful things that my ACTUAL life is trying to show me. In any scenario, true LIVING happens in the present, with my family, in this place that is currently offering us so much—including a beautiful new apartment to call home! Come the end of September, I’ll have completed forty trips around the sun. Time to fall in love with ‘now.’

My bowl of wisdom came into play in all of this philosophy, of course. You can’t convince me that drawing #39 was just a coincidence:

Don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future for too long.
Right now is life.
Live it.

Photo source found here.