Despite my best efforts, the anxiety is still real every
time I leave Germany.
The morning starts like normal: my daughter waking me up and
watching Curious George on the laptop while I drift in and out of sleep for 45
minutes. And then we play and eat breakfast, and there’s nothing at that point.
But as the day continues, the ache in my chest telling me there’s something
wrong (even when there’s nothing wrong), slowly starts to creep in. It grows
despite my best efforts to ignore it, starve it to death, so that by the time
I’m dropping off my daughter at her mother’s, I’m manic and I can barely see
straight. This state of disbelief usually lasts me long enough to propel me to
the outskirts of Amsterdam without caffeine.
I like to think that the evolution of Germany for me over
the past three years, is like a microcosm of my human experience. What started
as an antagonistic place that I tolerated (at best) in order to be with my
daughter, has become a place of recovery. It’s a strange place to get clean,
but that’s what it’s become for me: I eat well, work out regularly, write, and meditate.
And that’s only the time that I don’t spend with my daughter.
When I first started coming here, I would leave as a husk of
a person. I was mentally and physically demolished, and it took weeks to
readjust when I got home. Now, I leave feeling better than when I arrived. There
are some tangible differences in the present: buying a place instead of staying
in hotels, joining a gym, and reliable Wi-Fi. And then there’s an element of necessary
adaptation from my side.
It doesn’t change the fact that the people are still
high-strung. I’m barely able to operate on a daily basis without being told
what I’m doing wrong (as if to drive this point home, within an hour of getting
to Germany yesterday, my brother and I were being lectured for not properly
using the plastic dividers in the supermarket checkout line). Despite the locals
best attempts at making it stressful, it’s become more funny than draining.
I don’t know what Muenster will be to me in the coming
years. If you total up the sprints, I’ll spend a meaningful amount of my life
there. And I’m starting to see how that’s not a terrible thing.