Two weeks of being with people I love and doing things I want to. That is freedom at its finest.
The brilliant and wonderful woman who gave me life came to visit me in Germany for my long holiday. Before she arrived I was in a state of really needing to get the hell out of Hamburg. It had been 2 straight months since I left the city and I was on the edge. Somehow, without any form of communication to tell me that she had arrived in Frankfurt and caught her train to Hamburg, we found each other. I sat on the platform with a bouquet of fresh tulips from my favorite florist and my head craned to the left trying to see her train. Finally, it arrived and only 30 minutes late!!! Deutsche Bahn is dependably late so I wasn't worried. I happened to stand right near where she was sitting and I saw her beautiful head peak out the window. She waved and smiled and immediately a wave of joy and longing (Sehnsucht in German, way better word) washed over me with such force that I burst into tears. We hugged and hugged and I wept and we kissed and hugged some more and it was simply perfect. I have never needed someone so much like I needed my mother at that moment.
After 4 wonderful days in Hamburg we trained down to a town near Munich (Schwabhausen) and Würzburg to visit family. We spent nearly one week with them and saw quite a lot of Germany I would say. Mom was in such good spirits even when she was tired and stressed. She ooed and awed at everything and my German aunt even said "I love the excitement of the Americans". Very sweet. We had some quality mother daughter time, which was much needed and we barely got irritated with each other. What bliss. We spent Sunday night in Frankfurt before Mom and I parted on Monday. We explored a very little bit of the city, which I have never seen, but was actually quite nice. The sun was shining on the Main and we were just soaking in our last hours together. Mom was a great sport and an excellent travel companion. At the airport the next day I sent mom on her way to the U.S. and I found my own way to France to visit a dear old friend from Dover-Foxcroft, Maine who is also a teacher in France. The airport parting was miserable and we both cried. I cried a lot after leaving her. Getting lost in the biggest airport I have ever been in was also not pleasant, but eventually I found my gate and could settle into my thoughts and a good book.
My visit to France was embodied by this incredible thrill that my friend Molly and I, both young women from central Maine, had managed to make it to where we are today. When Stevie, Molly's friend from high school came to visit us in Dax that weekend, it was an overwhelming magnificent trio of central Mainers in France. We all took different paths to get there, but we were there and we basked in the glory of our rurality (new word: coined it!) and tenacity. We visited the Atlantic ocean from the other side in a town called Biarritz, which was truly magnificent. We ate delicious home-cooked meals, drank French wine, ate French cheese, and of course a baguette or 20. We rode bicycles through the night to dance in a club in which Molly and I were the only dancers. We covered ourselves in colorful feathers and joined a Carnival parade (1 week late mind you). We went bowling and picnicked by a pond in the sun.
This week of sunshine and time with an old dear friend really rescued me from the potential despair I could have sunk into after having parted with my mom. This was a holiday to remember and I am so grateful that I have this opportunity to experience other European cultures to such an extent. Next stop: ROME in MAY!!!!