Not even a week in Germany, and Dawn suggested we revisit our decision about living here, and apply for a year-long residency permit. It reminds me of working in a complex corporate environment, where it takes countless hours and input to make decisions and then once made, they get rethought and remade, and you can never really count on anything going as planned.
But it’s also the beauty of reiterating, of going back to the plan and revising it once you have new information. Spinning the prism until you’ve seen it from every angle.
We brought all our documents needed to apply for residency — everything has to be original, no copies, and you hand it all over along with your passports and they can take up to 90 days deciding, as they pass the decision along from one office to another.
But going back to our notes from the immigration lawyers we were reminded that residency would preclude either of us from working here legally, and tether our kids to the German school system, which would limit our ability to travel since the Germans don’t take kindly to kids missing school, and homeschooling is illegal, and they mean it.
We’d have to homeschool them in addition to their German school to ensure they’re retaining the information, so we’ll likely stick with our plan to exit the Schengen late October, and head to the UK for a 90 day tour of Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England.
The New York Times reported this week that of the 28 member states in the EU, Germany and Sweden represent the highest number of applications for asylum at 43% between the two countries, and compared the number of applications between Britain and Germany at 25,000 and 175,000 respectively.
Friends of ours here have suggested we could go under the radar with no problem, but Dawn and I agree it’s like telling the truth, it’s a lot less complicated and you have less to worry about when you follow the rules, particularly as a role model to our kids. And the risk to overstay our time is an ugly black mark in our passport when it comes time to leave, which could prevent us from being allowed back in.
The kids hatched a plan last night to prepare a romantic meal for Dawn and me, which would require us leaving the house for a few days so they can shop and decorate, so Dawn and I got out the maps this morning and decided we’ll leave for Weimar on Sunday, a cultural and intellectual centre for Germany and one-time home to German greats like Goethe, Schiller, Franz Liszt, Richard Strauss, Friedrich Nietzsche, and many more. Nuremberg is not far, and we can also visit one of the first concentration camps the Nazis established in 1937 called Buchenwald, rivaling Dachau as one of the largest in Germany.
When I first came to Europe in 1994 my then-girlfriend wanted us to visit Dachau which I couldn’t imagine, as such a sobering thing to do on what should be a vacation. But visiting it in 2009 impacted me on a level I can’t put to words, and felt right, as a small gesture to honor what happened there, to acknowledge the horror we’re all capable of.
Got up at 3 AM, wrote, tried to sleep but couldn’t, so I took to the steps above the vineyards by the moonlight, watched the train to Lauffen pass by — and they really do look like the model trains I remember from my youth beneath the Christmas tree, the tiny amber lights inside the windows and the low churn of the engine, wheels scraping the tracks. Amazing how much more aware we are of our senses in the dark, where you notice every little rustle.
Saw a shooting star, thought back to my original plans leaving work in December, assuming outright I’d never be able to make a living doing the kind of writing I’d want to do, and instead focusing on my back-up plan, to earn money editing or writing web copy. Wondered if Bob Dylan ever thought like that and of course he didn’t, he’d still be Robert Zimmerman.
This posted dedicated to my friend Rick, whom I met as one of my mom’s dear friends and bosses many years ago. See his post here on WWI, and check out his blog, “Barley Literate.”