Sometimes I can’t believe it how time flies. May 25, 2010 happened already ten years ago. That was the day when I got up in Stuttgart, Germany, around 3 a.m. to pack some odds and ends into my suitcase, tossed the keys to my apartment into my own mailbox, and took a cab to Stuttgart Airport. Some fourteen hours later I would land half a world away in Washington State, where my husband had been waiting for me for a year.
It is interesting how this one day is standing out with so many details. Sure, it was a life changer. And that is probably why a lot of not so life-changing days meld into a colorful muddle. Colorful, yes – but still a muddle.
I remember that 2010 had a really cold late spring. My, I was freezing constantly. And I was sick a lot that very first year in my new chosen home. Recently I heard from other immigrants that they experienced the same in their first year in a new home country. It’s probably all the changes in climate, circumstances, and lifestyle that rattle a body if not the mind.
It is also interesting that immigration means a second life experience into which you can take all your former experiences to build on. I have definitely learned to listen to my gut feeling in my first life, but I use it to a bigger extent in my second life. And having a far more outdoorsy lifestyle now, adds to the city mouse experience of former times.
What is the best thing? The bliss I experience in almost each and every day in my new life. Of course, there are days when I feel daunted, too. Or sad. Or stressed out. And I’m not a fake goody two shoes either. But bliss and gratefulness are indeed the first and foremost emotions I come up with when asked how I’m feeling. And that has to do with the people who have crossed my path, offered me opportunities, and taken me in since then.
It started with the kind and warm welcome I was given a walk down the hill from home at the Steilacoom Pub and Grill on my first Saturday night there. It continued with a door hanger from the Steilacoom Historical Museum Association and the 2010 Salmon Bake at which I signed up our family as members. The people I have met there, the opportunity I have been given there on the Education Committee, as an office manager, ice cream social chair, docent, trustee even; the friendships that were forged through this institution are priceless. The people from the McChord 62nd Airlift Wing soon also became family, as I was offered and held the position as a lead key spouse, i.e. the liaison between the commander and military families for several years. I went to classes there that taught me helpful wisdom for life.
I don’t believe in coincidences. As a docent on my very first Sunday in 2010, I met who has been my friend for almost ten years now, renowned bestselling author Anjali Banerjee aka A.J. Banner. We were talking shop, I, the German journalist with two small books of poetry and short stories under her belt, she the already established writer of wonderful fiction for children and adults. That encounter and the numerous requests for my services as a writer back in Europe made it clear to me that writing would be “it” for me again – but under my own flag.
Ever since, I have encountered so many more wonderful people – authors, painters, photographers, film makers, musicians, entertainers, chefs, artisans, teachers, historians, you name it. I have met a lot of them in person, a lot of them via social media. I have been given the opportunity to speak to military newcomers on Joint Base Lewis McChord and to the Lakewood Rotarians; to read from my books at the Sock Peddlers in Lakewood, the Topside Coffee Cabin in Steilacoom, and at the Lakewood Library; to have book signings at the Steilacoom Historical Museum; to help launch and participate in the Lakewood Book Fest; to participate in book events in Kitsap County, including a Christmas TV show; to talk on radio podcasts by legendary multitalent Dorothy Wilhelm and by Pamela Sommer from the German Radio in San Francisco; to be featured by Karen Lodder Carlson with her marvelous blog “German Girl in America”; to write a column with my friend, Lakewood icon Joe Boyle, whose sense of humor challenges me to explore the depths of my own; and to be published with my own columns by my highly appreciated friend, the Suburban Times’ publisher, Ben Sclair.
This upcoming Memorial Day will be the tenth anniversary of my coming to the United States for good. A solemn occasion as to the commemoration. But as to the date itself in my private life, a blissful occasion. A lot of you have accompanied me these past years. It takes a village to raise a child, they say. Maybe, it takes similar to create a home for an immigrant. You know how far I have come. I have not mentioned everybody in the above paragraphs who have helped me in this. You know who you are. Let me just say: Thank you all and God bless!