Six months, part two

Yesterday, I wrote about having been here for six months, and the homesickness I’m feeling.  It’s hard to be away from everyone, to be sure.

But, at the same time, it’s a major accomplishment.  Six months ago today, we arrived in Vienna.  We had rented a place for 10 days, but had no way to pay for it.  We had no Euros, spoke no German and had no phones that would work here.  I don’t think I will ever forget the moment we wheeled ourselves, and our stuff, out of the airport and stood on the curb, waiting for Dan’s friend to come and pick us up.  It was cold, it was gray.  We had ourselves, one stroller, 5 suitcases, 3 backpacks, two kids and a dog.


And here we are.  We now have a beautiful place, in a wonderful part of the city.  We go grocery shopping, we ride the train, we go to the bank.  Benjamin goes to school.  We all understand a little German, and we’re learning to speak some, too.  We’re learning a lot about the culture and customs of Vienna.  We’re finding our way, and our place, here in Vienna.  We have a really pleasant life here.  We’re doing great.

We will probably be here for two years.  That means one quarter of our time here has passed.  That really motivates me to get out more, to do more, to get us in gear and travel more.  No matter how strongly we still often feel like we’ve just arrived (and in many ways, that’s true) marking this milestone reminds me that before I know it, we’ll be packing up and planning to move home.  We still have so much to do and see here, and I don’t want to leave Vienna with any regrets.

Living abroad gives you new perspective on the way things can be done, and it gives you true appreciation for great things that you’ve always taken for granted.  Whatever the future holds, however long (or short) we stay here, we have been here long enough to be changed by this experience.  We are all citizens of the world in a way that we weren’t very recently.

Six months

Six months ago today, just about now, actually, we were on our way to the airport.  Most of my family escorted us — everyone helped us prepare for our trip in some way.

We miss everyone, terribly.  We Skype, we email, we text, we call (occasionally), we even write real, actual cards and letters (on paper!) from time to time.  But it isn’t the same as being together.  It’s really hard being apart.  I’ve already started to plan our summer trip home next year — it’ll be the first time we’ll be able to see some of our family, and the first time we’ll all have been together since we left.  Liam has spent half of his life in Austria, away from the rest of our family.

I have a truly amazing family.  Even though my parents have been divorced for over 20 years, we all get together regularly.  For either Thanksgiving or Christmas, just about every year, we manage to get everyone together in the same place.  This will be the first time I’ve missed that in a long time.  And it’s not just me missing it — it’s painful for me that my boys are missing it, and I know Dan is going to miss being there (he loves holidays with my family).

(You can tell I’m homesick, because it’s the first week of October, and I’m already thinking about Christmas — and I’m not the type to not give Halloween it’s due).

It’s been 6 months since we’ve seen our friends — since we’ve been able to have dinner at one of their houses, meet up at a park, or have a play date.

I can’t believe I’ve been out of the US for 6 months.  Prior to coming here, I’d never been out of the US for longer than 4 days at a time.

We are enjoying our Viennese adventure, but that doesn’t make it painless.  I am so grateful for the loving family and friends we’ve left at home, and I miss them terribly.

Crying in public

I have one of those faces — if I have cried, anytime in the past 4 hours or so, you’ll be able to tell when you look at me.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m so fair, or because I have a lot of pink in my complexion, or just because when I cry I tend to really let it out, but I can’t hide it.  I’ve never understood when people say, “Go in the bathroom, splash some water on your face and pull yourself together”.  All I get is a wet face.

Being overwhelmed, homesick or just stressed — I’ve cried several times since I’ve been here.  And I have definitely gone out in public after crying (without waiting the requisite 4 hours to get the evidence off of my face).

But I doubt anyone would notice.  Not because people don’t really make casual eye contact here (although that’s also true) but because it seems to happen all the time here — people cry in public.  It’s not something I’m accustomed to from home — there, we’re all very busy pretending to have it together and showing everyone how happy we are all the time.  If you see someone crying in public, you’ll avert your eyes and probably be embarrassed for them.  Here, it just happens.  People (mostly women) will just be walking down the street in tears, or very obviously recently in tears, with no shame about it.  No one pays it any particular attention, as I can tell.

It’s awesome.  It’s really liberating for me, as someone who has to hide for hours after crying, to have one less thing to worry about.  I can cry if I need to, and even if I’ve cried recently, no one is going to care one bit if it’s obvious on my face as I walk down the street.  (I’m working on not caring whether or not they care, but I’m not there yet.)  I haven’t taken advantage of this liberation yet, but I’m sure opportunity will present itself soon enough.