the homesick restaurant

Today I miss my mom. I miss my best friends, walking my dogs, and driving my car, but it’s the day after Mother’s Day when I’m writing this so most of all I miss my mom. Growing up, my vision of my future college life changed a lot. When I was twelve (and objectively my most annoying) I wanted to study law at Harvard. At 14 I wanted to study aerospace engineering at anywhere that would accept me- I then took my first physics class and immediately crossed that off the list. At 16 I wanted to study chemical engineering in Germany, and now four years later that’s what I’m doing. What I never particularly planned on was missing my mom this much.

I’m a twenty year old with her own apartment and insurance and tax ID, and on a regular basis I think I miss my mommy 😥. I’ve lived in Germany for going on two years now, and I really, truly love it. Some days I walk outside and the sun is shining down my street and the air floating out of the Turkish cafe beneath my apartment smells like nothing else ever has. On days like those I think how incredibly lucky I am to be living the precise dream life of my 16 year old self. How many people can say that? How many people get to walk around in their teenage escapist fantasy? Sometimes I feel such excessive happiness to be living the exact life I have that I wish I could store the surplus happiness for rainy days.

Today is a bit of a rainy day. For all that can be said about daydreams of the future, they are usually fairly lacking in characters. It’s easy to picture the apartment of my dreams or the perfect summer evening, but who will be there is a little less clear. In the past two years since I moved my life several thousand miles (or kilometers if you’re into that kind of thing) across the earth I have made one long term, meaningful friendship. I have other friends here, and spending time with them can be a ton of fun, but at the end of the day there is one person that makes me feel any more rooted in Berlin than in Timbuktu.

I find myself constantly telling my friends about my hometown. Being from suburban America, there are about a million pop punk songs that have set me up to hate where I come from, but to little success. It is small, unchanging, and smells of cow poop far more often than of a Turkish cafe. I love every corner of it. On days like today I recount stories of hikes through the woods with my friends and dogs, late nights at 24 hour diners, farmers markets trips with my mom, drives to and from New York, even how much I prefer our thunderstorms (they last all day, what is this fifteen minutes of drizzling nonsense they get here in Germany?). There’s nothing I wouldn’t give to be sitting with my dogs in my lap, listening to NPR with my mom.

Every now and then I’ll see someone write about how college for them at least as the start was very lonely, and I can feel myself exhale a little every time I see it. To pick up your life and move it somewhere very far away is a seemingly easy task in comparison to rebuilding a brand new support system. I remember in high school that when I had a new story or joke, I would tell it over and over again until I could finally tell it to my best friend. Then I felt that it had really been told and heard. Now I sometimes feel like I’m constantly collecting stories and comments and jokes with no real release.

As it would turn out finding one’s own precise brand of people is a pretty difficult thing to do. Throw in a new country and a language barrier and sometimes I feel so thoroughly and completely separated. It helps me to remember from time to time that everyone I know probably feels the same thick, invisible pane of glass, too. Maybe the friendships I’ve made so far don’t stack up against the ones I’ve spent years and years cultivating, but that doesn’t mean I have to be completely alone. I think it’s better to crack the glass and be a little misunderstood than to say nothing at all. When I visit home there is almost always something I miss about Berlin, on days like today I try to remember that I probably have more roots here than I realize.

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