The piper will lead us to reason

Chalk-engraved blessing outside Austrian house

Chalk-engraved blessing outside Austrian house

At the German school, the kids get dismissed for five minutes between every class to go outside and get some fresh air or have a smoke, some of the younger ones play on the climbing bars and hang upside down with their hair in the dirt. Because it’s the Gymnasium, the track designed for continued education and roughly comparable to American middle school, kids range in age from 11 to 16 and our two are the youngest, Charlotte (8) an all-out aberration, possibly the most talked about but now, two weeks in, they’re just part of the fold with the rest.

We were elated to get them out of the house and into a school with other kids because we overlooked how much they needed the structure of a classroom and other children, but knew we’d have to continue augmenting with Math and English because it’s unclear how much they’re comprehending, with everything taught in German, and there’s a good chance it’s all a ruse really, but incredibly good for them still.

We debated letting them walk home from the school alone because it’s just about five minutes from my mom’s house with no streets to cross, and we’ve done the walk a hundred times by now, but it’s hard for us to let go — so we agreed instead we’ll meet them halfway by the tunnel, and today when I retrieved them I climbed up a lookout nearby to watch them from above and see what they’d do when they came to the meeting point without me there — but Charlotte spotted me right away and came running to say hi.

All of us just need our space, and we overlooked the importance of that too: though we’re close to my mom it’s hard on her, hard on the dog too, who taps into our moods and biorhythms, reads the temperature of the room and all that’s unspoken, makes eye gestures, fidgets, can’t settle, gets up for a Yoga pose and yawns, caught between the desire to relax and the instinct to get up and investigate sounds and scents, all the coming and going and rearranging of the pepper grinder on the table and the napkins, keeping track of our drinking glasses, the retainer case, what we’ll do for our next meal — it seems impossible to just settle in and quiet down. We argue over the correct way to refer to coming days: is it next Thursday or this Thursday: what are the rules, how do they apply, and who’s right?

And it’s like a big project or possibly a new house or getting married — after the initial enthusiasm wanes, the reality of all the work reveals itself, how difficult the vision will be to attain, the necessary compromises — and that’s why you have to constantly remind yourself of the benefits and why you’re doing the project, you have to repeat it like a chant, for anything you repeat long enough, any kind of pledge or prayer, becomes true once you say it enough.

So on our walk this morning through the fields we talked about it, everything we haven’t gotten done that we wanted to, in terms of helping my mom sort things out around the house — and talked about how we hope the experience will help us live differently when we get back to the States, how unusual it is we get to do this and most people, given the chance, would have to wait until they’ve retired and they’re thinking about the end of their lives, whereas we have the chance to course correct mid-life now, based on what we learn from our time here, and what’s most important.

I reread blog posts I published from October through December last year, now a full year since my work life started to unravel, having made the choice to move to Germany the prior summer, but not able to stick it out as long as I’d hoped at work through the following spring, instead forced to consider if I wanted to risk being asked to leave my job or leave of my own volition, and knowing it was the latter for how much I loved my time there and wanted my memories of it to remain positive.

I reread comments made by many people who still follow my blog and realised how much they meant to me, as I was feeling more isolated, and trying to realise more of myself online, as many do in that ‘figuring it all out vein’ — what once was a journaling exercise to get inside ourselves we can now do publicly, which makes it something different altogether, opening our diaries to strangers around the world.

Now, we’re packing for a three-month road trip through the UK, leaving two weeks from today and thinking about taking a portable cooking set with olive oil, spices, a fry pan — international data plans, power converters — and reminding ourselves to relax and enjoy our last two weeks in Germany, to take some pictures of the vines growing up the side of mom’s house while the leaves are still red.

And fall comes so fast, summer feels like an abrupt goodbye at the airport before a long flight.

Post title HT to Led Zeppelin, ‘Stairway to Heaven.’

DSC_0117

 

About pinklightsabre

William Pearse publishes memoir, travel journals, poetry and prose, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
This entry was posted in travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to The piper will lead us to reason

  1. rossmurray1 says:

    I had a comment but it disappeared. All for the best.

    Like

  2. ksbeth says:

    just don’t follow the piper into the cave…

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      That’s funny you say that about the cave, because I have this ‘thing’ that caves are special places, akin to introspection, where we can get lost or find treasure. Or maybe just get smothered in bats and mould. Or discover art! Or cheese!

      Like

  3. So your kids are acclimated to a new school but now they’re leaving for a three-month road trip? Do I have that right?

    Like

  4. Man, the thought of being eight years old in a class where they teach only in German resembles one of my recurring nightmares. The only difference is that I’m usually naked in it.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Get that – 100%. Except the German-foreign language part for me. My kids will have that now. I just have that feeling I haven’t studied for anything or read the books and I’m doomed to fail.

      Like

  5. walt walker says:

    That was also my experience abroad. There is a honeymoon phase, and then you find you still have to grind it out, just on cobblestone streets instead of freeways. That said, I’d choose the cobblestone streets.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      I had to pop more Advil than I have in months because of those streets, but think it’s worth it still.

      Liked by 1 person

      • walt walker says:

        You should chew them like candy, like Nicholson in The Shining. (The book, not the movie.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • pinklightsabre says:

        There are some scenes from the book they obviously couldn’t do in the movie. One I vaguely recall is him looking at himself as a small figure in a cuckoo clock or something, some kind of ornate clock if I recall right. Very trippy and strange. I read that book when I was house-sitting for my mom and step-dad in Allentown, PA. Why do we do these things to ourselves?

        Like

  6. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t it astounding that we can be on sabbatical and still feel like we run out of time for things? I thought time would slow down this year, that I’d have endless days and hours to write, work on photography, connect with friends…more than I needed, enough to get centered and feel grounded. The reality is it went by faster than any year I spent working. I now feel like I’m in some altered state of reality. After 18 countries in 10 months I have culture shock being back in America.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Yes, time can bend and act like taffy, it’s funny. We have our trip set up in three, three month “acts” and are just completing our first here in Germany. And it went faster than I thought it would, unfortunately. We did this six years ago, a three-month stay, but it didn’t go quite as fast. Maybe it’s the getting-older thing too. I believe the culture shock thing is for real. And I miss the States, for however much I prefer some things here in Europe. We have it awfully good there too. I even found some kinship with some Americans in Prague yesterday — their voices and accents didn’t bother me as much as they normally do, when I hear my native tongue abroad.

      Like

  7. Lynn Love says:

    So, you’re coming here to the UK just in time for three months of short, gloomy days? My word, our summers are dreary enough (well, this last one was) but winters, while not actually that cold, are an ocean of grey. Though, I guess no more gloomy than Germany. I hope you’ve packed a good supply of vitamin D tablets – we’re all deficient after the winter.
    And never fear – we do have spices and tons of olive oil for sale in every supermarket you come across – honest, we’re not all just eating fish and chips and roast beef all the time 🙂
    A great post and I hope you enjoy the rest of your Euro travelling.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Hi Lynn – thanks for your great note here and reading my blog. Yeah, it’s funny we feel inclined to like, buy olive oil before we come to the UK. I’ve chided my wife to not worry about making sure the kids have enough winter clothing because we can buy it there too; I think it must be the ‘planner’ in us that wants to feel like we’ve got things sorted so there’s less to worry and think about when we arrive. But it’s funny, alright. I’ve visited the UK a few times but never in the winter, and it wasn’t intended this way, but that’s how the proverbial Roulette wheel landed, as far as the calendar and having to leave the Schengen and just going by a 90 day visa rule in Germany, that puts us there over the winter months. We are from Seattle, so dark/gloom/rain is no stranger, and I’m hoping to find some starkness in the landscape that will inspire my writing. Heck, sounds good for now. We’ll see. Happy you stopped by and hope to get to know you better as the days wear on here. Thanks for the well wishes too. Best, – Bill

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        You see, you’re just more organised than I would be – I’d forget eveything!
        There certainly is some barren beauty around in a UK winter – Scotland, the Lake District, my own childhood stomping ground in the Peak District. Plenty to see, as long as you’re wrapped up warm 🙂 Yes, even I’ve heard of Seattle’s reputation for gloomy weather, so you’ll feel right at home. Nice to find your blog and have a great journey. I’ll look forward to reading about your stay in the UK 🙂

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        We often give the impression of being organised but it’s a bit shambolic too, our approach to things…thank god my wife is more with it than me; we make a good team though. Can’t wait to see more of the countryside there, all of it. We’ll be announcing our ‘UK tour dates’ in the next week and I’m happy you’re going to read along. Should be interesting alright. Cheers Lynn, – Bill

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        Best of luck with it, Bill. Hope you enjoy it 🙂

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        Thanks kindly Lynn, me too. Travel is the best tonic.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Bill, what you are doing is difficult so please don’t beat yourself up for feeling uncomfortable. Just let the experiences be what they are. There is no “best” way of education, and actually the kids will get something out of German school, homeschool etc, as each has benefits. You will derive benefit too, and remember that you are supposed to come back here to Seattle! So just don’t think about Seattle right now, you can think about Seattle when you come back! Besides, the Seahawks are losing, so there is no reason for you to come back right now — you are not missing anything. It is awful. –Valarie in Seattle

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Nice Valarie – seems whenever you take the time to write, it’s such good, kind advice. Oh sage friend from Wedgwood, thank you dearly! And it’s good to hear the team is doing poorly from afar, because it would bring me angst to have to watch it there locally, in 425 or 206, or 360 country. You can keep me apprised from time to time if you don’t mind; perhaps their luck will change. They have a lot of spirit, that team.
      Best to you and yours, and I’ll reread your comment from time to time, as it means a lot. Thanks, – Bill

      Liked by 1 person

Please share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s