The hopes and dreams of Robert Zimmerman

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.”


Categories: travel

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 replies

  1. i think we travel through life while constantly readjusting resetting our sails and winding our way through. think it all through and enjoy the ride – sounds like a great experience already


    • I like the metaphor of the sails, that’s good. Fun to be in a boat again, with the familiar fading into obscurity. Smells different out here, too.


  2. You’re right about the dark. Works on thoughts too, I think. The year long residency is a good idea. But so is the other one, the 90 day thingy. Which do you think would be best for the kids? I think I would let that decide it for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, about the dark. There’s something inside that, which is wrapped into the theme of my blog and to be honest, I haven’t figured out yet but a voice keeps saying ‘keep going.’ Like DeNiro in that movie (Goodfellas) telling that gal at the end to keep going down the alley maybe. Sorry that was indulgent but I did it for you. Yeah, I don’t know which would be better for the kids but I like your attitude about that, it’s selfless. I think we’re going to leave and I have this winter in the UK thing romanticized now, to where I can’t let it go. Fantasizing about writing a chapbook of poetry there and really getting to know Scotch. Though that’s not good with the kids, can’t really wrap that into the homeschooling itinerary. Unless we fold it into chemistry somehow.


  3. Your thoughts on Dachau threw me back to my own visit there, many jahren ago now. When we arrived by train the skies were clear on a brisk day in March. As we toured the grounds a strange rogue storm came through, and it began to snow at noon under a sky that was like a sheet of burnt canvas.

    You’re so right though. You come away from a place like that without adequate words.


  4. Wow this passage took my breath away !!!!


    • That’s really cool, thanks for sharing. Something interesting about having our breath taken away, isn’t it? Funny we should want that, that it should feel good at times. I promise to give it back!

      Liked by 1 person

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