All roads lead to Karlsruhe
Those who know me will know that this result has created plenty of conflicting emotions within me. When we left Karlsruhe at the end of 2014, I truly did not expect, or wanted to, ever return. I left the city, this country, without looking back. I left it feeling like I was leaving a place that was never truly home for me, where there were plenty of lonely days and bad moments, to head to a city and country I've always loved, where I felt like I belonged and was accepted from the moment I arrived.
And now, the truth is, I'm torn. I'm filled with relief that we have somewhere to head to after the past two months of living out of suitcases and without a home. Since we left Auckland, we have dragged our children halfway around the world and stayed in temporary homes and accommodations in Kuala Lumpur, Rietberg, Frankfurt and Carolinensiel in the past eight weeks as we tried to figure out our next move. On Sunday we will head down to Mannheim where we will base ourselves for however long we need while we hunt for a place to live in/near Karlsruhe. We've done this with a two and a four year old whom we've had to try to entertain without their usual gear/toys/books/surrounding. It's been exhausting with a capital E.
So I'm relieved that there is an end in sight. I'm grateful for a second chance to re-build a life for us in Germany. I'm excited at finally having a place to hopefully call home, to settling the boys in school and therapies and finally getting Liam properly seen, after having more or less neglected his health for the past year while we tried to make it work in New Zealand. But there's also a part of me that's disappointed, and a little fearful, that all the reasons why we wanted to leave Karlsruhe will still be there when we return.
It's not that Karlsruhe was a bad place to live in, far from it. We had a relatively good, 'easy' life there. We had a lovely apartment in the heart of the city, and I always enjoyed the festivals that was held throughout the year. I enjoyed being able to step out of our apartment and walk everywhere I needed to go. BUT, there isn't much diversity. The food scene isn't something to write home about. The shopping streets could be walked in an hour. We've already discovered most of what there is to be discovered about the surrounding parks, zoo, playgrounds. I never really fitted in, or felt like I belonged. I largely felt invisible.
It was not a city I ever fell head over heels in love with, like I did Auckland. Or like I could have with Frankfurt, or possibly Hamburg. I wanted to start fresh in a new city, a bigger city, a more international city where I wouldn't feel quite as foreign or alone. Where the memories I left behind, good and bad, won't greet me at every corner. I wanted a clean slate, this time around, instead of heading back to the very place we left for many reasons. And now I have to reconcile myself that the story I thought had ended, in fact has a sequel. Whether the sequel will turn out to be better or worse than the original, I do not know. It seems like life keeps going round in round in circles for us.
At the end of the day, I'm going to be optimistic, because that is the only way to live. Because I want to think and believe that everything happens for a reason. But for some reason, my heart hurts. I left New Zealand resigned and slightly bitter, but even with everything that's happened there, I miss it. I miss our home in Sunnynook. I miss the North Shore and its beaches. I miss the boys' respective daycares where they were so loved and adored. I miss understanding the conversations around me without having to think so hard to keep up or say a simple sentence. I miss being independent in a way that was natural to me and not where I had to think about my every next step the minute I leave the front door. I miss the ocean breeze. I miss the food. I miss our friends who've surrounded us with such love and support.
Tomorrow, I will pick myself up from the ground, dust myself off, and keep walking. I will try to smile again. I will do what needs to be done. I will embrace this next part of our lives with an open mind and spirit.
But today, I'm just going to nurse my weary heart.