Category Archives: Germany

Seasons of Love – A year in our lives

529,600 minutes,

529,600 Moments so dear.

529,600 minutes

How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee

In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.

529,600 minutes

How do you measure a year in the life?

This song constantly found its way into my head over the course of our year in Germany and before we close the chapter on our time there, I want to dedicate one last blog entry to the experience.  By this point, most everyone knows my long time connection to Germany.  I first arrived in West Germany (Goch, to be exact) in 1990 as a 15 year old exchange student.  To say my year there put me on the path to where I am today would be a understatement.  I returned in college and then again as a first tour FSO assigned to Frankfurt.  The chance to bring my family back to the country – and the friends – I have loved for so long was an amazing opportunity.  That it ended up being for only a year, intensified the experience even more.

It is a rare opportunity in the Foreign Service to choose your house and your lifestyle, but that’s what we did in picking our dream home in a small German village called in Weil im Schonbuch on the edge of a massive forest.  The boys participated in the same German school traditions I remember – the lantern walks of St. Martin’s day, St. Nicholas, town festivals (“Kirmes”), spring visits to the local gelato store, and Saturday morning walks to the outdoor market.  Tony took Ma’issa on long walks through valleys and forests, we got fresh milk from the goat farm each week, we drank mulled wine at countless Christmas markets, and we were incredibly lucky to find two families in our little town who would become close friends and near constant companions (kids and adults alike).

The travel was great, but our everyday life was as close to perfect as we’ve ever had.  We had intended for it to last 3 years, but new opportunities called.  I wonder sometimes if 52 weeks of magic could have realistically extended to 156.  Maybe, but I am content to have had 529,600 pretty spectacular minutes.

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Berlin

As the summer – and our time in Germany –  began to wind down, Tony picked me up from the airport one morning after a quick trip to DC and we headed to Berlin.  This was a trip we had both been eagerly anticipating.  Tony has done a lot of reading this year focused on post-WWII/Cold War Berlin and was eager to experience the complicated and magical (my word) city himself.  For me, it was a return to a city that I feel like I have seen grow up – from 1991, when the Wall was still largely in tact and Soviet soldiers still roamed the streets of East Berlin, to 1995 when it was the world’s biggest construction zone, to 2000 as the seat of Government was being moved back to the traditional capital and the city was beginning to re-establish itself on the world stage.  This visit was surprising emotional for me as I saw that the “living history” era I had been fortunate to experience had really transformed into a monument to a past I felt intimately involved in. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We got to see it from an interesting vantage point – after a morning at the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, we hopped in a Trabi for a two hour drive around the city.  The only thing I remember from my last ride in one of these East German cars was the lack of shocks.  Twenty years has not improved upon that.

 

Trabi!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The highlight for me was a return to the East Side Gallery – or, rather, the backside of it which had been closed off on my previous return trips.  In 1991, some AFS friends and I, in Berlin for several weeks living with East German families at the midway point of our year in West Germany, took some spray paint and added our own graffiti to the Berlin Wall.  While surely painted over many times since, being back in that spot evoked some amazing memories. 

O

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         On our way out of town, we made one last stop in Potsdam to see the Glienicke Brucke, the bridge where Cold War spy exchanges took place and where East Germans streamed across in November 1989 as the Berlin Wall opened.  Berlin continues to have a hold on me like no other place.  After all of our travels this year around Europe, and elsewhere before that, I think I have to conclude it remains my favorite city.

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We’re Back!

Obviously our last attempt at blogging fizzled out a bit, so we’re back to try this again.

To catch everyone up, we have been living in Dubai for almost 3 years, but are starting to wrap things up here. In mid-June we leave for two months in the States before landing in Stuttgart, Germany in late August. Everyone is excited for the new adventure and an escape from the desert heat. Jenny will be working at the Africa Command (AFRICOM) and Tony is looking forward to getting back into an office after working from home the last couple of years.

We hope you’ll check in here often and join us on our adventures!

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