Arrival in Germany – July 2000
*Monday, July 17th
Tired but excited. Factories, diesel fuel, traffic jams on the highway. Crossed over the Rhein River. Whoa! Ramstein doesn't look familiar. Highways are dirtier than I remember. Try to remember. I think the buildings down the road from here are where we went Trick-or-Treating. BX, Commissary…nothing is familiar. Why isn’t it more familiar?
Tried to stay awake. Made it to 6 pm. Slept until 8 pm, when Elizabeth woke me up. Off and on sleep.
*Tuesday, July 18th
Up at 5 am – showered, dressed. Kids asleep; Kevin reading paper. I open the curtains on my first full day back in Germany:
Hazy fog – air crisp and cool. There's a pine tree just outside our room. The windows open like doors. Cool air rushing in. At first I just feel the cold, but then I smell the pine. I can't inhale deep enough. I worry that I’ll inhale too much and the smell will disappear, like after 15 minutes at the perfume counters when your nose quits. I'm trying to space it out, make it last longer.
Memories are flooding back – not visual ones but the kind you feel. Peace. Quiet. I'm Me again; home.
I swear the pine trees here smell different. Kevin's eating an orange…Christmas in July. Where are the church bells? Soon.
Maybe I'll wait to see Katzweiler. Too much too soon. I miss "us." The Bartletts. Not that now isn't good, too, but to be able to reach back in time and to smell the fragrances of childhood is overwhelming. It’s only half the picture. I’m undone.
I miss you guys. I miss Dana. Too much. Too soon. CNN chatters in the background. An acoustic anachronism. I put my coffee down because it doesn’t fit. Didn't drink coffee as a child.
So thrilled to be here. A favor from God. A beautiful reminder of the good things he's done for me in my life. Mustn't forget. Close your eyes and feel your life. See with the heart. Did I ever really leave here?
There's a bird in the tree. Insistent…"Pay attention!" There he is—tan with brown. Hopping from branch to branch. “Things to do! Things to do! Pay attention!” See how perfect the branch is?