The plane lands into a pathetic little blizzard. It had been 60 when I left Denver, with a week of sun to come. The weather for Germany had shown rain eight out of ten days. It seems to be worse than that.
I do a mental checklist going through the warm clothes that I brought. It’s mostly light fare: spring jacket, sweaters, too many V-neck t-shirts. I knew it would be cold, but I hadn’t expected snow. In my memories, it rarely snows in this part of the world. Of all the winters I’ve spent here, I’ve never seen more than a frost on windowpanes.
I pull the dollars out of my money clip, and stuff them into a pocket of my travel bag. Replace them with balled up euros, which I straighten with my thumb and index finger, wrapping them into a small stack around my middle finger. Use a paper clip to flip out my US SIM card for my German SIM card. Buy phone credit and relearn enough German to activate the network. A stream of text messages and What’s App messages assault my screen at once. Dismiss them all, too tired. Double check the flight gate. I’m in the right place. Find a place by the window, and wait for the last leg of the trip.
I’ve done this so many times now it seems almost involuntary. Even the light-headedness, grime on my face and hands, and the afternoon glow in my dead-of-the-night brain, have a comfortable familiarity.