In February of 2013, me and a friend first came to Germany for four months – training for our new job. Maybe it would have been puzzling, if not for another friend who had already been in Stuttgart for almost a year and guided our first steps both through the city and our new department.
The first adjustment was to the schedule of the stores, which are all closed on Sundays. This was a lesson learned during the first weekend. But you learn to plan ahead and around that.
The second adjustment was the annoyingly slow internet. If I were to single out the best thing about my home country and town, it is incredibly fast and incredibly cheap internet. Not much you can do during a short stay when you rely first on hotel wifi (unreliable) and then mobile internet via stick (slow and limited). Issue solved when you stick around long enough to make a 2 year contract – good money will buy you good internet.
Third adjustment was the water. Again, good money will buy you good sparkling water (something not hard to find back home). Depending on the area you live in, the tap water is hard enough to mess up your skin and hair though. Nothing you can’t solve with care products, or, if you own a tub, balancing out the the water’s ph levels.
The thing that sometimes still puzzles me, however, is the weather. I distinctly remember the last days of our stay. It was a mixed feeling of regret at leaving and a glimmer of hope that maybe somehow I can arrange to come back for longer. Or for good, if possible. If not here, then further up North – maybe Sweden. I had tasted life somewhere else and wanted a slice for myself. The other two things I remember: I couldn’t send my winter jacket back home with visiting friends/relatives, because it was the end of May and I was still wearing it to work; and I was bummed because on June 3rd, Depeche Mode were having a concert in Stuttgart and I was missing it by a couple of days. I would catch them later that year in Budapest, but still.
Yesterday, realization hit me out of the blue.
The friend who guided our first steps here gifted me a typography/inspirational poster for my birthday after my return. It starts with ‘live your life’ and I have always viewed it as an encouragement to pursue the goal of emigration. It has been taped to the wall on my bedroom wall since the autumn of 2014, when I came back to Stuttgart for a short term assignment that kept getting prolonged, always keeping me hanging and hoping.
Since February, the ‘abroad assignment’ turned into ‘local national contract’.
Yesterday, the 7th of June, I was shivering in my apartment despite wearing a hoodie; heating was off and it was incredibly cold.
However, I had mail waiting for me. And I took the papers out of their envelope and laid them on my table. So… there they were, side by side: my concert ticket for Depeche Mode in Munich on Friday – alongside the freshly signed contract that had arrived in the mail. It has a pretty red seal and constitutes official proof that in less than two months I will own a place to call mine, for the first time in my life.
I have come a perfect circle and it is just beginning to sink in what a huge relief it is (and conversely, what a huge and constant background stress it has all been) and how at peace I actually am, despite the annoying shit that regularly goes down, both in my life and around the world.
I will buy a pretty frame for the poster, to hang it at the new place when I move in.