It has been hotter than Hades here for weeks and I mean like 95 degrees hot. It’s even humid. It’s absolutely reminiscent of summer on the East Coast of the USA except for the fact that no one here has Air conditioning. No really–no one has it. Offices don’t have it. Even lots of stores don’t have it.
Thank goodness the cars do–And that’s what’s funny–Of course the cars have A/C. This is not a third world country, this is the country of BMW, Audi, Mercedes and Porsche. We are talking about a serious standard of luxury here.
And when I’m in a positive state of mind I can admit that sunshine every day means a gorgeous summer and a happy balcony garden. Additionally, given the right frame of mind, I marvel at the way buildings and homes here are constructed. Built mostly out of concrete instead of wood, they trap cool air. You can air out your home in the evening by opening all the doors and windows and then close everything up the next day before the sun gets hot. Unbelievably, the cool air that you collected stays in and keeps the temperature relatively cool all day.
Or that’s the idea…
The thing is: after weeks of 90 degree weather, stone buildings can do the opposite, trapping heat instead. We are in week four of this heatwave, so our apartment is now turning into a stone oven. Even when we make it like a cave during the day the temps continue to rise.
Leaving the doors and windows open at night sounds lovely except for the fact that there are no screens on the windows and doors. That means that when we air out the apartment we have to keep the lights off or the mosquitos will come in and eat us alive. So, here we are since weeks just sitting around in the dark. I know, it could be a recipe for romance, right? …. But it’s not. It’s seriously too hot to touch each other. And don’t get me started about trying to get little kids to go to sleep when its 100 F.
In the middle of all this, it just so happens that we need a new refrigerator/freezer. Perfect! I can’t wait to get one with an automatic ice maker. Wait, what? They don’t make freezers with automatic ice makers in Germany?
How is that possible? Is this considered a luxury good?
Germany is a country that hosts beer festivals in the middle of a field with thousands of people and running water. Believe it or not, they find a way to run water from somewhere to the bathrooms that they build, especially for the fests, so that no one is ever forced to use a gross, stinky Port-o-John.
All this to say, it seems I have hit a wall with Germany and with expat life in general. Maybe the heat has forced some of the frustrations of living away from home to the surface.
I have always proudly thought of myself as more of an immigrant than an expat. I integrated myself, embraced the language and can even laugh at the Franconian Friendliness instead of taking it personally. Aside from remaining an American, speaking English with my children and writing this blog, I live a very German life–the language, the food and drinks, the traditions, our friends etc. But still like it or not I seem to miss home and the way I thought things would be when I envisioned my family life.
And for some reason I feel kind of bad about it. Like I failed at immigrating to Europe somehow. Like I was supposed to just seamlessly become something new. Maybe my expectations for myself were too great or maybe I was naive?
But am I really so convenience obsessed just because I want a fridge with automatic ice? Is it a ridiculous expectation to be able to put ice cubes in a bag when you sprain your ankle without needing to have ice prepared ahead of time, especially when your freezer is the size of a post box!? Is it really a luxury to have screens on the windows so that everyone isn’t covered in bug bites? Is it so wasteful or weird to want a garage that is connected to your house or a bathroom that is connected to your bedroom? Is it totally ridiculous to want to cool down when you come inside from hot weather? To be able to get ready for the day without being covered in sweat before you even walk out the door?
It is my intention for this blog to exemplify the idea that getting out of your comfort zone pays off. I want to only share the funny stories and the important worldly insights. I want this whole thing to always be an Instagram perfect adventure. But sometimes it’s not. At times it’s boring, sometimes it’s sweaty, sometimes it’s lonely and ugly and it’s hardly ever convenient. It’s life no matter where you’re living it.
So, even though it has been four years, this weather is showing me that some ideas die hard. It seems that in order to really build a life here and create a home, I need to re-envision the life I imagined for myself or at least accept that it’s going to look different than I thought it would. I think I need to see life, at this stage, for what it is and move forward.