1. Ausfahrt isn’t funny anymore, and roundabouts are second nature.2. You no longer mind the person behind or next to you only giving you half an inch of space.3. 2 hrs for dinner is “fast food”. …4. You judge mustard by how well it opens your sinuses.5. Jumping across the border to get away for the day is no big deal.6. You reach for the Jägermeister instead of Pepto Bismol.7. You think family pictures taken at a castle are “so cliche.”8. You forgot how to use round doorknobs.9. You forget how to flush a toilet that doesn’t have a push button.10. 100 MPH seems like you’re driving really, really slow.11. You no longer think it is strange that beer and water are the same price.12. You never go shopping off base without a shopping bag or VAT form.13. You NEVER shop on payday or the day before a German holiday.14. You never leave home without your keys, ID card, license, and passport.15. You think anything with chocolate sounds like a good breakfast.16. You think it is natural to pass Army tanks on the highway.17. You answer the phone “Hallo” instead of Hello.18. You need a power drill and sledgehammer to hang a picture on the wall.19. You rig your lawnmower and vacuum cleaner to give you an electrical shock if you try to operate them on Sundays.20. You no longer even want ketchup for your French Fries.21. Christmas is incomplete without Gluhwein at a castle.22. You sing “Tschüss” instead of say Good Bye.23. Your children no longer say please or thank you … it is bitte and danke.24. You wonder how you ever lived without Rolladens.25. You wear a scarf every single day …. even in the summer.26. You plan your route around ESSO locations.27. You believe AFN is quality programming.28. You own shoes just for walking …. and know you will walk everywhere.29. You no longer need google translate at the grocery store and last least ….30. You have said out loud at least once …. Damn Americans!!
You: (pointing at me and making a face) “She is exaggerating about how long it has been since the sun has shown its face in Germany.”
Me: (defiant) “No, it has been clearly 6 weeks since I saw the sun shine on my pale face.”
You: (correcting me) “No way, you saw it for ten minutes on Thanksgiving.”
Me: (with conviction) “Yep! And that is why I leaped from the dinner table to just run outside and feel its warmth upon my face.”
You: (a confession) “That’s when I ate some of your turkey off your plate.”
Me: (desperate) “When will the sun shine again?”
You: “Told you we need to move back to Florida!”
Florida…..I can feel the warmth of the breeze, hear the birds sing, watch the alligator meander in the lake, feel the sun glisten upon the water. Oh, the sparkles that it makes upon the water….but then I am quickly back to reality, pop open the vitamin D bottle and run to the window for a small glimpse of sunshine.
There is so much that needs to happen before we can come home to the United States. The list goes on and on but as we prepare we realize that we will need to adjust to a new culture, again.
I did not give this much thought until I was talking with my teenage daughter who has been living overseas for the past 3 years. She has gotten use to traveling here and that means that when you cross a border to a new country you need to make sure you have your passport with you. To her, it is natural to carry a passport and present it to border patrols, if needed. Though, I will admit, with open borders one generally does not need to show it. One has it for the ” just in case” moments. Her daily routine though of presenting identification to be on Post is that you need to show ID. These checkpoints provide security to the Post. She has learned that you need an ID to go somewhere. Without it, can cause major issues.
We got talking about moving back to the States. We are considering moving to the New England area. Moving between States is normal and I was explaining to her how close Rhode Island is to Massachusetts, that going back and forth between the States is a normal everyday event.
“One minute you will be traveling down the highway and be in Rhode Island then the next exit will be Massachusetts.” I was explaining to her.
Her startled look made me stop and pause. She looked a little confused and I asked her. “What seems to be the matter?”
“How many checkpoints do we need to travel through each day to get to the next State?” She stated quite calmly.
Here’s the Thing….her innocent question made me realize that she has learned a lot by living here in Europe. She has not traveled across State lines and not be checked for a passport or not have to stop to show an ID before entering a new area. I suddenly realized why she had a puzzled look. I was not thinking about things from her point of view. She only knows about carrying identification and that has become her world.
It has made me realize how many things that are taken for granted in the States. That being able to just freely move among States will be a new concept.
“None”, I replied to her. “We will not have to show ID to cross State lines. That’s one of many freedoms we have as being Americans. We can travel freely among the States.”
Here’s the Thing, I live in tight Army housing and the dog next door is barking, not a little but a consistent bark that seems to say, ” I really do not like being tied to this tree. Come bring me inside and play with me.” I hear him, I feel his pain. I too would not want to be tied to a tree with no one to play with or nothing to drink. My bark would be loud too.
Even as I write this, he is barking and my mind tells me to go and inform the owners that they are imposing on my desire to have quiet. I should be able to at least think about how I am going to tell you all about their obnoxious behavior of letting their dog bark without being interrupted. I wonder if they even thought about how I felt about the dog barking? Did they think, ” If my dog keeps barking my neighbors would find it disturbing?” I think not, since he is still going at it.
I bet you are wondering why don’t I go and stop the barking. Why not give the owners a piece of my mind….here I go..I am back and now I sit in quiet, enjoying the summer breeze and smelling flowers…..That is until the baby a few doors down starts whaling like it is being murdered.