Later I would watch the short recording of when they managed to get the huge vermin to emerge, pause briefly as if scrutinizing the motley crew who drew him out, before escaping behind the shed and into the night never to be seen again. But there's this moment on the recording where the racoon's face is fully visible. The eyes look right into the camera. And... I identify with the utter and complete confusion in his expression. One moment he's living peacefully in this den. Comfortable. And then his whole world is disrupted.
Eight months ago, our world changed scenery. One moment we're meandering down ancient cobble-stoned streets, resting in cathedrals hundreds, (occasionally, thousands), of years old, smiling with the headiness of rich, romantic languages of which we only know a scant vocabulary. We're driving through countryside that feels more like a postcard than reality, the rolling green hills dipping sharply into ravines only to ascend up narrow winding roads to castles majestically standing atop cliffs and mountainsides. Dreamy hardly begins to describe this lifestyle of homeschool in the mornings then Huck-Finn-Tom-Sawyer adventures in the forest to wile away the afternoon hours until dinner. There's Gertrude at the Bäkerei in Badem where we buy warm Apfelstrudel on the occasional Saturday morning. And Oma Yvonne -- who lives across the street -- fetching the boys to help her lift something heavy or to do yard work, their fists clutching a euro, a piece of candy or an apple upon their return.
And then, suddenly (even though we knew all along the moment would arrive), there is this commotion as boxes are filled with earthly treasures and stacked into crates on the truck. Suitcases are hauled to our temporary living facility on Base and my heart feels squeezed between two worlds. The goodbyes are far more painful this side of the pond than they were five years earlier when we left Spokane. Leaving Spokane felt... temporary. What's three years or five years? I told myself. It felt more like a long pause. But this. This feels different. Bonds run deep with these people we've done life with for the last several years. Goodbye is left open ended... with no guarantee that we'll ever live so close to one another again. There's this sadness, the only symptoms a physical ache in my heart and a quiet demeanor -- my measly attempt to process grief. I am at a loss for words. (I didn't know that I'd still struggle to find words eight months later. But here I am.)
Upon our arrival Stateside, we immediately begin our search for a home to purchase. To my dismay, I find it nearly impossible to put my heart into it, the only reprieves coming from both husband and realtor who throw themselves tenaciously into the task with focus and passion. Each time we get close to a purchase, I "discover" all the reasons why the house is a bad idea. It is not a coincidence that we are matched with our realtor, Katie, as she boldly suggests that perhaps I'm not ready to put down roots and like having cold water splashed in my face, I realize I'm stubbornly holding onto a culture half a world away, friendships spread out between Malawi, Africa and Louisiana; Missouri to Spokane. Roots? Tell me what is meant by "putting down roots." And now I sort of (oh, just a smidgen of a glimpse) understand why military families say, Home is where the military sends us.
It is this part of the journey that I am gazing at the map, like the one on the beach in Croatia, that had a large red circle with the proclamation, "I AM HERE." Once again, I am profoundly grateful as I sit here at my farm table in Suburbia America, (in the cozy little house we bought), and while words are still elusive, I am determined to live in the grace of this moment, to eek out this document of sorts, to chronicle the best I am able this new adventure we're on.
I wonder what the next few years hold in store for us. I'm eternally grateful that God loves me too much to let me settle into complacency, get too comfortable, too settled in whatever status quo I naturally gravitate toward. I'm thankful that He has brought us back to Spokane where we are s l o w l y acclimating and reorienting ourselves to life in the States. It's not easy. We've undergone a few paradigm shifts in the last five years and figuring out how to align new mindsets with this new adventure we're on is proving to be a bit of a challenge. The six of us, we're haphazardly slipping-sliding as we try to find our footing. And I'm trying desperately to find my words.
If we get together to catch up over a cuppa, will you graciously let me off the hook if I don't know how to tell you my heart?
I wonder what ever happened to that raccoon. I wonder where he went or if he'll ever return.
Linking today with Emily at ~