Friday, July 5, 2013

Goodbye, Expat Life; Hello, Repat Life?

As I type, I am sitting in Geoff's hometown in NJ. We're en route from Berlin to Seattle, stopping over just long enough on the East Coast to attend a wedding. It has been my first real break since January. The first time that I have had real time off, not thinking about wedding or work or looking for work or moving logistics. And the sun is beaming beautifully outside; even the sweltering tri-state humidity cannot begin to bother me when I am sleeping 12 hours a day. I am spending most of my time just hanging out with the in-laws in Jersey, but am also idly looking up friends in NYC during the week. During the coming weekend, Geoff and I will be visiting the Museum of Math, as well as catching the "new" musical Once. Although I love New York, I cannot help but feel relieved that we don't live there anymore. The city is a total wallet-zapper!

On a more personal note, things have been pretty rough at home, since my mom has been in the hospital for a couple of weeks now, and Geoff's parents have had health scares of their own recently. I think this is the start of an era -- the years when we feel lucky whenever our parents get over a scary episode of something without it becoming life-threatening; it's no longer the norm that our parents get sick and they would get better. It's scary, and we're still waiting for biopsy results to see whether my mom will get lucky this time. I really hope so, but as my mom has already said, if it's not this and not this time (that becomes life-threatening), then it will be something else at another time. That realization has hit me very hard lately, and I don't know how to navigate through my web of feelings about it. I think grief is a very selfish thing, because as soon as you start to dwell on your own grief, you're already prioritizing your own fears and needs over the tremendous needs of the person who is actually ill. So I have tried to keep everything latent, because I don't know when my mom will need that extra boost of positivity from me. The wait for diagnosis has been agonizing, but I keep reminding myself that it is 10 times more difficult for my mom than it is for the rest of us. It helps to keep other things in perspective.

So, it was with a heavy heart that I had said goodbye to Berlin. Amidst all the furniture-selling, packing, cleaning, painting, paperwork logistics, and long-distance phone calls to Shanghai, the time simply flew. There are many things that I could say about Berlin, but most of all, I will remember the wonderful friends that we've made there. Although it was quite random that Geoff and I ended up there, we were fortunate to experience the city on its way to becoming -- truly -- one of the greatest cities in the world. When I think back about my two years there, I will always remember how charming the neighborhoods were, with their parks, biergartens, craft and flea markets, and slowly savored Sunday brunches. The city can throw a helluva open-air party, or two or three. And I've never been in any other city where the train is habitually still packed to standing-room at 5am, with a diversity of languages to rival that of NYC.

So long, Berlin! Thanks for all the wonderful memories. I wish that there was more time, and that the goodbye wasn't quite so hasty and so distracted, but I am sure that we will visit again soon.

PS. Next year, I will be teaching Algebra 2, Precalculus, and Calculus. To keep myself from being overly lazy all summer, I plan to do some Calculus planning starting in late July or early August. Any resources that you can point me at would be awesome!

PPS. On a different note, if you visit Germany at any point as a tourist, I highly recommend talking to the locals and going to a traditional German sauna to try their Aufguss experience. It's not to be missed! The experience is so exclusively German that you can hardly find any English info about it on the web, and the descriptions that you do find do not adequately describe it...


  1. Sorry to hear about your mom! I'll send a prayer her way.

  2. I too am sorry about your mom. Vibes sent her way.

    As for what you're teaching (Alg 2, Precalc, Calc), I have stuff. Just shoot me an email with what you're looking for and I can share whatever with you.