Have you ever been to the Netherlands? I have been twice before, but this time was extra special. My parents picked me up in Münster and whisked me off to the tulip fields across the border. I don’t have a particularly green thumb (re: black) but I can appreciate gorgeous flowers as much as the next person. And man, these flowers inspired me to plant my own! These photos were taken at the Keukenhof garden, which is basically Disneyland for flowers. I was awe-struck and couldn’t help saying “Look at that, Mom!” around every corner. Below are a few photos if you’d like to see.Dad thoroughly enjoying the tulips…All in all, an inspiring visit! I’m off to purchase gardening supplies…
If you scroll through the archives of this blog, you will see several posts with titles similar to this one. I think I’ve said goodbye to Germany at least four times without knowing if or when I would return. But each time I knew I wanted to return, so I pushed to make it happen: I connected with a family to work as an Au Pair, I found an internship, I applied for a Fulbright and then a graduate program. I knocked on doors (or kicked down doors) to get myself back across the pond. I have not one, not two, but three visas from the German government. They’re probably like “Really, this girl again?!”
I say all this to show what a big role Germany has played in my formative years. I grew up a lot here. This country has taught me so much, and for that I am forever grateful. I have friends here who I know will always welcome me with open arms and host me on their sofas when I visit.
But I feel so much peace about saying goodbye. Once I made the decision to leave, I’ve felt zero regret or doubt. This time I am saying goodbye without the intention of finding my way back. Sure, I’m young and who knows where life will take me, but I am thrilled to live near family and friends in my home culture. I can’t wait to start my career and make friend and call people in the same time zone.
So goodbye, Germany (for real this time!). You have been true to me and of me. Thank you for everything.
For some reason, I really enjoy hearing about how people met. Like, it brings me an absurd amount of joy.
So, dear reader, I will recount for you how I met my boyfriend, Trey. This is partly for your enjoyment and partly so I don’t forget any of the details!
I had just finished my Fulbright and was living with my parents in Fort Worth for the summer. I had was waiting to hear whether or not I had been accepted to the graduate program I’d applied to. Since Fort Worth is not where I grew up, I didn’t have
any many friends there. I decided to download an online dating app mostly just to laugh at the Texan cowboys’ profile pictures with their camouflage outfits holding a fish they’d recently caught. I’m an LA snob, I know.
I went on one date that was mediocre. Then I swiped upon Trey’s profile. He was cute. I liked his glasses. He went to Baylor University, where my little brother currently goes. I messaged him something casual: Hey, my brother goes to Baylor.
He wrote back and we ended up discovering that we’d both taught English abroad– him Spain, her Germany. We decided to meet up a few days later (jokingly at a German/Spanish fusion place).
We met at a cafe called Black Walnut. It was a nice place, but casual. I was so nervous I changed my shoes two times in the car!
The first few minutes were a bit awkward as is usual with online dating, but soon we got into discussing our mutual childhoods in the church, funny youth group culture, teaching abroad, going to small christian liberal arts colleges, having two siblings, and so much more. We had a lot in common…
The date was off to a great start but we were done with our food. So we decided to continue at a local coffee shop. We drove over there, ordered and sat down. After about five minutes, I see a woman walk past and I say, “That’s my mom.”
Yes, my mom had accidentally wondered into our first date!
She was so embarrassed haha. She drank her drink in the corner and left ASAP like a trooper. Luckily Trey thought it was funny and not too creepy.
My house wasn’t far from the coffee shop so Trey walked me home afterwards. It was sweltering Texan heat, and the poor kid had to walk back to his car drenched in sweat. The things we do for love!
We decided to go out again later that week and I said goodbye. On the other side of the door I remember smiling and thinking, That was the best first date of my life.
It was. And every date since has only been better 🙂
I love putting together these little digital souvenirs of my travels. Enjoy!
A wonderful trip with my boy! A few photos to capture many, many special moments. The last one in particular is dear to me- we were able to visit my childhood friend Jessie, who is living in Madrid, and have dinner (and wine!) together. I will remember these times always 🙂
Are you good at making decisions? I am not. It is not my spiritual gift. In fact, I think one of the hardest lessons for me to internalize in life is that I can do anything, but I can’t do everything. Making a choice inherently means giving up the other choices. I ask because I have recently made a big decision. I’ve decided to quit my graduate program and move home to Texas. Boom. There it is. There are many reasons, some more private, but the main one is that the program was not the right fit for me.
As I was thinking and praying about what to do, I talked with my friend Sean on the phone. I was bemoaning how people might perceive me (re: You’re back? What happened? You quit?), when he said, “Micah, nobody cares.” Dang, haha! HE IS RIGHT. Nobody is paying as much attention to us as we think they are! Of course my family and close friends care, but his point was that if it’s the right decision for you, don’t let what others might think stop you.
My generation has so many doors open to us, that we get paralyzed. Decision fatigue sets in and so we just don’t decide. Of course, not deciding is a decision. So I’ve decided. I am going to go home, reassess, and move forward. Emphasis on the moving forward.
Remember friends, just because something is over doesn’t mean it was bad. I’m excited for this new season, and of course I’ll be blogging my way through it, so don’t go anywhere!
Belgium really is wonderful. The architecture is whimsical, the people are kind, and the waffles live up to the hype. Alena and I stayed in Ghent with our friend Julie and did a day trip to Brugge, a medieval city that has been preserved and restored. It felt a little like Disneyland- bands playing in the square, kids licking ice cream cones, sunshine! I was ready to ride Splash Mountain. If you’re thinking about visiting Belgium, I say go for it!
Exercise in the winter
Tell yourself you will go for a bike ride once it stops raining. Bundle up in coat, scarf, hat and mittens. Start sweating profusely ten seconds into your ride, but then freeze when you remove a layer. Peddle until your face is red and your lips have the consistency of sandpaper. Stop for a coffee. Stay for an hour. Ride home because now it’s getting dark. You have ridden one third of a mile. Repeat self-delusion for four months.
Deal with anxiety
Decide to meditate. You’ve downloaded an app for this very purpose! Light a candle, turn down the lights, make a cup of tea. Close your eyes and follow the soothing voice’s instructions to empty your mind…
did you take the laundry out? If you didn’t, it will get soggy…do you need to schedule an eye appointment for next week or should you chalk the problem up to ‘random medical weirdness’? And does your college roommate hate you because she didn’t respond to your text? Maybe. Maybe…
Turn off the app and stalk her on Facebook.
Do your assigned school reading
Get a snack. Your brain can’t function properly without fuel, after all. Stare at the PDF document. Read three paragraphs. Open Facebook real quick– post a picture of your middle school dance captioned ‘Throw Back Thursday’! Laugh at how witty you are as a way to stave off the growing guilt. Read three more paragraphs. Answer the pressing text message from your boyfriend asking how your day was (terrible), then return to screen. Decide to give up and do it later.
Have a long distance relationship
Calculate the time difference between the two of you. Nine hours. Alright. He times his lunch break so you can talk for an hour before you fall asleep. First try FaceTime– not working? Ok, switch to Facebook video chat. The connection is still fuzzy, so move closer to the router in the hallway. Wave to your apartment mates as they walk past, trying not to eavesdrop. Give up. Book a ticket home for spring break.
Overcome your Millenial-ness
Make a decision. Any decision. Try not to faint because this means saying no to all the other possible options.
Act like an adult around your parents
Ask your mom casually where your W-2 form is, and while she’s at it, could she explain briefly what exactly this form means. Tell your dad all about your new job and how professional it is (the blazers, the coffee, the copier, oh my!), then ask him if he will take your car into the shop this weekend because it’s making a funny sound.
I am not someone who typically makes a big deal out of Valentines Day. I’m in the “every day should be valentines day” camp. But this year is my first year to have a proper boyfriend on February 14th (gasp). And although it sounds cliché, being someone’s girlfriend has made me a bit mushy. I’m not even with him today, in fact, we are on different continents! But I just want to shout out into the internet void- happy Valentines Day, Trey! It has been nice to learn more about the nature of love from you these past six months.