As I sat, staring at the geese waddling across the lawn and continually recrossing my legs to prevent them from welding themselves together because of the heat, I heaved a sigh of relief. I was happy, excited. I was sitting at a very crooked picnic table on the grounds of my moms new pre kindergarten program. It was a beautiful albeit sticky hot July day, and I had tagged along because I couldn't stand to sit one more day in the house and check my email every five seconds. Her new classroom is a small white farmhouse building, clapboard sided, and inside is her usual enchanting kindergarten world. Even I am continually enchanted by the materials in jars, baskets and on trays displayed in the art center: bits of tissue paper, metallic shells, sequins, clear plastic, twigs, stones, paints in every color of the rainbow, yarn, packaging recycled and cut into workable bits for gluing, stringing together: a virtual limitless playground for the imagination. And now that I know I'm heading back to Munich to try my own hand at Kindergartening, I was soaking it all up like a sponge.
I brought my things down to the wooden picnic table by the pond and spread the glossy books out on the table: science for preschoolers, designing a learning environment, mudpies to magnets and every array of children's education books. Armed with post-its, I paged through the idea-filled pages, marking ideas I planned to photocopy for my own personal teachers portfolio. Next year would be an experiment, but I knew I would enjoy it. Getting up at 6am will take some getting used to, but having the experience of both working with children and indulging my passion for languages while living in the city of my dreams with my boyfriend who I love, within hours of the places that lie closest to my heart after my Pittsburgh home: Padova, Italy, home to my 4 month study abroad adventure, Vienna, Austria, home to Hundertwasser, my favorite artist, Spain, the start of my adventures abroad, and hemmed in by countries and lands yet unknown to me: Prague in the Czech Republic, the entire north of Germany, Scandinavia, Belgium, Greece in the south: the possibilities were endless. Plus, within a small radius of Munich, the opportunities for adventure seemed endless: mountain hikes, lake-dotted bike tours, local festivals, ancient churches, and that infectious European spirit that seemed to have stuck to me.
But now I was home. In humble Pittsburgh. My friends are: all over the place. Chicago, Washington, California, Boston.. almost none here. My days have been spent cleaning out the terrifying chaos that was my closet, reorganizing my room, cuddling with our pet pug, and catching up on law and order reruns. And waiting for Artur. My almost 7-month boyfriend is coming to visit me in less than 4 days now, his first trip to the US and my first experience introducing a boyfriend to my parents. And the waiting is killing me. Not only am I used to not being apart from him for more than a day at a time, but so much has happened to both of us since I left: I have been reintegrating myself into my old home, and he has moved to a new apartment, made travel arrangements and attended to a lot of little life details. The process of our reunion in MY country and his visit with MY family made me excited but also slightly nervous. Would he like it? Would it be fun? Would the revealing of my "mystery" life at home take away some of my mystique (did I have mystique in the first place?) Well, we would see pretty soon. Until then, I was working on whiling away the days.
The unending nostalgia the accompanied my return from Italy was certainly relatively absent from my visit here, which I attested to the knowledge that I would be heading back at the end of August. I also hoped it was a good sign: a sign that I thought of Germany not as some interesting specimen of a foreign culture, but as my new home. Paging through a picture book the other night, I did feel the reassuring pangs of longing for my new found dwelling place. Of course, my experience this next year would be completely different. Germany would no longer be experienced as a part of a "cultural immersion experience, but rather as a component of my much more "daily" life. Work would be every day, 7:30 to 2, I would have to live from that money:pay my rent, buy food, furnish my apartment. I was looking forward to it more than anything. Plus, I had my own space, a room in a two bedroom apartment in the center of Munich, right near the river and a beautiful church, shared with an apartment mate from..where else...Italy! I had taken it as a sign when I noticed that the walls on the way from the subway stop were decorated with an imitation Hundertwasser mural, made by a local kindergarten.
And the waiting for Artur was getting more tolerable. He had been relatively stressed out by his move (prompted by the relatively intolerable behavior of his 50 year old alcoholic, unemployed roommate), and now that that was taken care of, he seemed (at least through email and phone calls) to be relatively relaxed and getting excited about the trip, even going to the bank and changing his money into dollars. A few hurdles remained, however: the flight, with a nail biting 1 hour layover time in Milan before boarding the plane to New York, a short stay on the floor of the tiny Manhattan apartment of a fellow program student in Munich this year, Christy, and then the short hop of a flight from JFK to Pittsburgh which had taken me last week because of JFKs horrible organizational problems more than 7 hours, including 4 hours sitting on the runway in the loaded airplane. But it would all work out somehow, at anyways, we had been through similarly complicated things before.
But because my computer is becoming as sun baked as my scalp, I am off to seek refuge in the air conditioned confines of my mother's wonderland, and then to happy hour and frozen cosmopolitans with my mom, to muse and dream of our new and exciting years ahead. Until then...