Jun 23, 2014

Auf Wiedersehen, Deutschland!


Exactly 3 years ago today, D and I landed at Ramstein Air Force Base to start our first overseas assignment in Germany. With 4 suitcases, lots of nerves, and mountains of excitement, we lived in the Army Lodge for 41 days before finally moving into our beautiful 2nd floor apartment on Alwinenstrasse, a hop, skip, and jump from Wiesbaden's charming downtown area. Over the next 3 years, we spent the majority of our time here traveling all over Germany and Europe. 28 different countries and countless new cities. I can hardly believe it myself. In between all of our travels, we made new and lifelong friends, D worked in a unique and challenging squadron (pinning on Captain at the end of our first year abroad), and we basically festivaled our brains out all over Germany...and Belgium, for that matter. We fell in love with Germany's picturesque villages, acclimated to German culture and way of life, and we navigated our way through countless language barriers, both in Germany and all across Europe. We hosted friends and family from the states when they came to visit. We parked in tiny parking spaces. We paid for water, and ketchup packets, and to use the bathroom. And naturally, we became obsessed with wine, and beer, and döner kebabs...among other German delights. Germany became a part of us, and us a part of Germany. But today, D and I find ourselves back at Ramstein...just a few short hours from flying back to the states to start our new life in Florida.

I can't even type this without tears welling up in my eyes. This place, this experience...it's beyond anything I could have ever imagined for D or myself. We have embraced every second of our time abroad...never wasting a long weekend...always out exploring...so much to see, so little time. 3 years might sound like a long time, but it flew by in a flash. Weren't we just telling our families the good news about Germany? Weren't we just packing our bags to move here? Now, it's time go. I can't quite wrap my head around how quickly good things come to an end. And I'm not sure I'll ever be able to put into perfect words just how lovely our life abroad has been. Everything about Germany has seeped into my bones. The good and bad, the strange and mundane. This country has such a tight hold on my heart. Leaving our apartment last Thursday just about did me in. I hadn't had time to think about leaving our charming little flat. Life had been so busy, what with our cruise, my impromptu trip home, the movers, the boxes...it wasn't until the movers had left and we started walking through the empty rooms that I had time to let the sadness flood in. I started mentally placing furniture and memories where they used to be. I thought of the hours I'd spent in our sun room, trip planning and blogging, reading and dreaming. I remembered the first thanksgiving dinner we hosted in our tiny dining room...with just a few friends and a whole lotta love. I thought of how much I hated our blue tiled bathroom and toilet with poop shelf when we first moved in. But also of how much I'd grown to love it (well, maybe not the poop shelf...that's a tough one to ever love). And I reminisced about the evenings D and I spent cooking dinner in our tiny German oven and drinking wine out on our balcony. Those nights were simple, but oh so perfect. With every room I walked through, the tears continued to stream down my face. D was shocked...so was I, really. I thought I'd let go of this place. I thought I'd properly grieved the ending of our Germany chapter. I thought my heart had already found its new place in Florida...but clearly I thought wrong. I've got a Germany-sized hole in my heart today. Probably forever.

Even with the sadness I carry for closing this amazing chapter of our lives, there's also immense happiness for the new one that's about to begin. We're so thrilled to move back to America. We're so thankful to finally get back into the same time zone as our loved ones. We're darn near exploding with excitement about Florida and all the wonderful sunshine and ocean breezes we'll enjoy each day. This time in our lives is bittersweet in the best way possible. We couldn't be more grateful for the life we've been given and the new adventures that await us just on the horizon. I'm overflowing with emotions today, you guys. I'm gonna ugly cry through customs, I can already feel it. So, let me leave you all with this. If you ever have the opportunity to get to Europe...whether it be via studying abroad, military assignment, work visa, or family vacation...DO IT. Don't even think about it, just go. You won't regret a single moment of a life (or visit) abroad. There's so much more beyond the USA. Get out and see the world, friends. Life is short! Don't waste a second of it with "should've, could've, would've." Just trust that I am right and Europe is awesome. Especially Germany, but I'm definitely biased. ;)

And to all of you who've followed along on this amazing European journey of ours...THANK YOU!! From the very, very bottom of our hearts. I still have lots more of Europe to share with you...so don't leave me yet! And, of course, the fun shall continue in Florida. We've got lots of the USA to explore! 

Auf Wiedershen, Germany. You've been swell. 

40 comments:

  1. I can't wait for our turn in Europe! We're taking advantage of our time here in Korea, though, as much as we can!

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  2. Ahhhhh you had me in tears! We are a few days away from three years and it is really amazing how much one can change in that amount of time. Good luck on your next journey, I cannot wait to read about it!

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  3. Safe travels! I'm sure warm sunny Florida will welcome you with open arms and lots of afternoon thunderstorms.

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  4. Safe travels! Can't wait to hear about your Florida adventures!

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  5. Safe travels to both you and D :) I'm looking forward to the final few European travel posts, as well as living vicariously through you as you explore the Sunshine State :) x

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  6. Good luck! I'm heading to Europe myself next month, and your blog got me so excited about all the exploring. Safe travels!

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  7. This is the kind of experience I love reading about from those who have spent time abroad. What a wonderful time you two have had, best of luck with your move!

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  8. Repatriating is bittersweet for sure. I'm very excited for you! I'm anxious to hear whereabout in Florida you are moving? My husband wants to consider a move to Florida and I know very little about the areas he likes (Tampa, Boca).

    All the best on your journey 'home'.

    V

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  9. Good luck in your next chapter! Enjoy Florida!

    ~Ashley @ A Cute Angle
    acutelifestyle.blogspot.com

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  10. Thinking of you :) Have a safe trip back to the States! And remember, Europe is always just a plane ride away :)

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  11. I just arrived in Germany two days ago from Florida! My boyfriend is German and we've moved to Sonthofen in the Allgäu and I am IN LOVE. I can understand how difficult it must be for you to leave! I can't even believe this little charming town exists and that people live here fulltime. I can't wait to do more exploring. Good luck with the next part of your adventure :)

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  12. On to the next adventure! :) Can't wait to hear about Florida!

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  13. Good luck with the move! I've loved reading about your adventures in Germany and Europe and can't wait to hear about what's next in your life!

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  14. I know this must be really bittersweet for you guys, it seems like you've had a blast exploring Europe! I've loved all your travel posts, and I look forward to following along with your adventures in this next chapter of life. Best wishes and hopefully it's a smooth transition for you!

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  15. Have a safe trip back to the states!

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  16. My heart feels for the two of you. I'm so excited that you guys get to come back to the states, but I've been able to read so many of your awesome posts that I can tell it is bittersweet to leave Germany. You guys really did fully take advantage of your time there and I think in the long run that will give you comfort. No regrets, just lots of amazing adventures! This will be such a fun memory that the two of you will have and be able to show and tell your kids all about. Safe travels back to the states, and welcome home!!

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  17. Best wishes for the future, you two! I can't wait to read all about the next chapter!

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  18. I know how you're feeling. I'll be leaving the place I've been living in for 6 years soon and I feel so sad already. Wishing you all the best in your new pursuits :)

    Whimsical Leo

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  19. this is such a sweet love letter to your time there! i am sorry you have to go but looking forward to following along on your adventures back home! good luck with the move and getting settled!

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  20. How incredibly bittersweet. I teared up just reading this. I've loved so much, following your journey the past 3 years. Though, I suck at commenting regularly. I agree with you, if you can go, GO! I am so anxious to see how life is for you in FL after leaving Germany. Good luck!!

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  21. We must of been on the same flight! We took the rotator from BWI to Ramstein on June 23, 2011 (our wedding anniversary!). It has gone by so fast.

    We leave on Thursday. Best of luck to you guys!!

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  22. ...It's like the old adage says, "When God closes one door in your life, He simultaneously opens a window"...There are surely brighter and better things in store!!!!

    On a side note, I LOVE your shirt in this photo--GO SPARTANS!!...

    Betty

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  23. AHH!!! How incredibly bittersweet - as you embark on this new adventure and carry the amazing memories and experiences with you! This was such a beautiful post about your time and I can't wait to see and read the adventures that are next as you transition to this new season! Safe travels and lots of prayers as you settle in to this new adventure!!
    :) Rebecca

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  24. You are so lucky to have been able to spend time in Germany and to travel and see so many wonderful places

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  25. Beautiful words for a goodbye, Casey! Time for new adventures. I love your blog!

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  26. Thank you for this wonderful love letter to my Heimat and good luck for all that`s next.

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  27. Safe travels! Europe is fun - after spending years there and now being on the State-side, well, yeah, I do look forward to an opportunity to go back for an extended period of time.

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  28. I didn't spend three years in the same home in the same city in France, but I spent the better part of two years working there, and I remember how heartbroken I was to leave. Beau and I are tentatively planning a vacation to France for next summer. I just miss it so much. But moving can be exciting and bring new adventures! After I left France, I moved to the Midwest for a summer internship and met Beau. Then I moved to New York and to Toronto, which were both pretty exciting places to live, before heading back to the Midwest for love. ♥ I can't wait to read about your new life in Florida!

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  29. It's crazy how years fly by when you're having fun! Safe travels back to 'Murica and i'm excited to see what's next for you guys! xoxo

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  30. Such a sweet post to say good-bye. I think I might shed a few tears for you! I know how you feel...excited about one adventure, homesick for the past adventure. One day, because you'll miss it, you'll start planning a visit back to Germany.

    BUT I'm excited to see how Florida unfolds for you and the Mr. : ) Welcome back to the States!

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  31. Aww so bittersweet! But, yes Germany will still be there for a visit any time! Safe travels back to the US & good luck settling in! Can't wait to hear more about Florida!!

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  32. I have loved hearing about this German chapter of your life and I can't wait to hear about the next chapter. Safe travels back to the US!

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  33. You couldn't have put it any better about how I feel about my time in England. It's been twelve years and it still has a hold on my heart that I can't explain to anyone. Good luck in Florida!

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  34. Hahaha the toilet with the poop shelf, I have one of those too - couldnt be weirder.

    Sad you are gone but cheers to the next adventure! I know you'll find ways to keep life just as magical as it was in Europe.

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  35. Hey, I'm the sister of Bonnie from LifeofBon. I don't know if I've ever commented on your blog… but I've checked in a few times here and there. We're stationed in Stuttgart… have been here 1.5 years…. three little kids. It has been an adventure. I really enjoyed your parting words. Glad that you are overwhelmed with gratitude for the time that you've had here and also excited for life back in the USA.

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  36. this is so sweet! you'll always have a home in Europe - I love how you say that Germany is in your heart. good luck in Florida!

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  37. I'm superrrrr late reading this but better late than never, right? This made me tear up just reading it! Hope y'all are enjoying Florida and not missing Germany too much!

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