also just a random self reflective commentary of my life. I can't help it, I'm feeling nostalgic.
First of all, Happy Texas Independence Day!
I've been in Germany 6 months to the day now. Some things have gone how I expected, some haven't. While I do have a very nice host family, I didn't really consider ahead of time what it would be like to live with my employers.
I don't feel at home when I'm home.
At the end of a rough day, I can't go home and complain about my job. I can't come home and take up the whole couch in front of the TV and be lazy and eat cereal for dinner if I want. I can't do laundry whenever I want or have time, and often end up going just a little too long without washing my clothes, just because the washing machine is always running, and on top of that it takes about 4 hours to wash and dry a load. I did this in Beloit too, but I had way more clothes and it was socially acceptable to dig in the depths of your closet and wear strange clothing combinations just because you were avoiding doing laundry or legitimately out of quarters, and I had the luxury of the sports center laundry for my workout clothes.
I miss being able to cook and eat what I want, and eat meals that don't always take over an hour. In fact, being able to do anything in a timely fashion.
I can't even spend time with my host family without feeling like I'm on duty. Because of the noise and chaos that follow the kids wherever they go, but also because I never feel like I can completely be myself. The language barrier plays a role, but again, there's the fact that I'm living with my bosses.
While they try hard to make me feel included and part of the family, I'm not. "Au pair" by definition means that I'm supposed to be equal to the family members, but there's no way that can actually happen. You can't just live with someone for a few months and automatically be part of their family.
Obviously it's not all bad. I've learned a lot about myself, about kids, German and Germans, and I've made some great friends. And if there was ever a question, I have learned there is absolutely no way I will ever have 5 kids. It's a great experience, and I'm glad I did it, but one year is definitely enough.
I can't help but thing back to where I was a year ago too. On this day in 2012 I was supposed to drive to Kenosha with Betsy to a last chance indoor track meet to get the school record. Which I would have. But of course it was the only day it snowed all winter and we couldn't go, so I went to Rock Cut in my Texas flag shorts and took my disappointment out on a beautiful, cold, wet, exhausting run through the woods. And then I spent the next week lying in a bed in Myrtle Beach, SC and made people do stuff for me.
I was in a different space last year, both mentally and physically, literally and figuratively. Some of you probably know that I've been recently dealing with depression, which looking back I can see started showing signs as soon as I got back from France in August. It takes a while for me to recognize what I'm feeling, because it's not the same as being unhappy. I let my mind slowly take over my life and forgot to listen to my body and be present. It started to affect things like my eating habits, and eventually things started getting out of control. A few weeks ago I couldn't ignore it anymore and was forced to look at the root of the problem. I've been making some changes, and the past few weeks have been better. I've had some setbacks, but I do feel more at peace with myself and am able to recognize that commentary that's playing in my head as just a voice and even shut it off sometimes. I'm feeling hopeful that I'll be my self again soon.
In a lot of ways though, I'm exactly where I was a year ago. I have no idea what I'm going to do next year, or where I'll be living, and I'll once again have to leave all my friends that I've made here. I go between excitement for the possibility of something new and what the next year might bring, to freaking out that I'll never have a job and I'll be homeless forever and won't have any friends and I should probably just move in with my parents and be a lifeguard for life. Looking at the past 12 months, I could be anywhere in 2014.
One thing I do know though, when people ask what I'm going to do, I cant just shrug and say, "I dunno, I'll probably just go live on a farm in Germany" anymore. It just won't have the same meaning.
And just in case you actually made it all the way though this (so just you Kate), here's some pictures of the kids when I took them swimming the other week