Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Back in the US: First Explorations Stateside

Hi all,

So, I have been back stateside officially for three days now.  Today going on day four.  Feeling both like I never left, as though settling back into that old pair of shoes you've had in the closet for a decade.  Even though you have moments of thinking, "eh, I don't need these anymore, they are so worn in and actually sometimes look a little goofy." Yet, they are familiar and comfy in a sense that makes you feel a need to keep them.  Making them special, knowing that nowhere else can you find shoes like this that, worn in by years and knowing every inch of your foot, that will make you feel that sense of coziness and home.  Those shoes know you. 

Maybe not the most on point metaphor but you catch my drift.

While simultaneously, being here feels surreal...nerve racking...and sad.  Missing my friends in Germany and certain aspects of the culture in Europe I already know I will long for.  (Stay tuned, that will be my next entry ;-) "What I learned/observed in my first 72 hours back stateside").  Part of me is longing to text one of my best friends from back in Frankfurt something along the lines of our usual, "hey, want to meet up for a tea and walk/brunch/dinner (you name it) tomorrow or the next day?"  Then my heart sinking in remembering that I cant. 

I am also seeing that in driving these New Hampshire back roads, the grounds are laden with memories and ghosts.  Of myself in high school.  Past relationships.  Emotions I used to feel living here at different (some of them difficult) periods of my life.  This is a strange, at moments disorienting sensation.  Finding thoughts flitting across my mind of, well isn't this what I left to get away from?

However, with that said, my mom and I have spent hours and hours over the last several days together.  Connecting, laughing, talking, playing, cooking, eating, exploring places in New Hampshire together, and just having a fabulous time.  Making pancakes for her one morning and zoodles topped with shrimp, cherry tomatoes, onion and pesto for dinner one night.  Playing croquet in the yard.  Exercising together.  Hanging out on the dock and talking.  Opening particularly thoughtful and a few poignant birthday gifts from her.  Driving together.  Breaking into goofy song during our car ride (because really, what else do you do with your mom? ;-)).  Looking at photo albums.  Grocery shopping.  Going to Portsmouth, New Hampshire for the day and exploring, which was the bomb (stay tuned for photos below). 

And on Monday, I drove with her into Concord on Monday (the city where she works) and then used the car while she worked that day to explore.  Now this was cool.  Concord is where I was born and grew up for the first 16 years of my life.  So, with the car, I went meandering down nostalgia and memory lane.  To the first house we lived in, my mom, dad and me (along with my brother for the first couple years of his life).  I drove to our second house, all sorts of memories rushing back when driving down our quiet street.  The one on which I used to ride bicycles with my friends up and down for hours.  The park in which I used to sled, swim and play.  The sidewalks on which I used to draw with thick, colorful pieces of chalk.  The balcony of our house, from which I used to chuck raw eggs at the particularly ill behaved neighborhood boys. 

I drove past my elementary school.  The streets I used to walk with childhood friends.  The downtown area of Concord where I spent days, afternoons, hours with friends over the years.  Now though, surprisingly seeing it with new eyes.  What I used to think, in my brooding teenage mindset was a dumpy, lame, too small strip of shops now looks charming, quaint, inviting and lovely to me.

Here are the photos of the Main Street (where I spent loads upon loads of time throughout my childhood) in Concord and the two neighborhoods in which I grew up:

Granite State Candy Shop.  My absolute favorite as a kid.  The inside air is cool.  It smells like dark chocolate and sharp mint.  Delicious.  I could breathe in this smell for hours.

Photos above of the local winners for ice cream eating competition.  Love it ;-)

The hotdog truck!  That has been there literally since I can remember on Main Street.

That name!  The "Crazy Goat" Tavern ;-) the best.  Only in New Hampshire.

The little gnome in the tree <3 loved this guy.  As a child, my dad and I would always peek in the tree for him when walking by.

So this is the first street on which I lived and played (the photo above).  You cannot see the house we lived in but its across from the blue one.  So I am essentially standing to the right of where I used to live.  The little boy who lived in that blue house was one of my closest and most loved friends for the first seven years of my life.  We played together daily.  Our parents were friends too.  The group of us having Christmas parties together, going Trick or Treating on Halloween nights together, etc. 

This (the one photo above and the following two) were the second place we lived.  Moving here with my mom, dad and Spencer when I was about 8 years old, into the yellow house pictured below.  Except it was blue when we lived here.  We were in this one until I was about 16 years old.  This is the street on which I played, rode bikes, chased neighborhood boys, walked with friends, the list goes on.

And the several photos following below are White Park.  Just down the street from the second house we lived in.  I went to this park nearly daily for years.  Searching for frogs in this pond.  Playing on the playground.  Swimming in the local pool here in the park.  Walking with friends through the wooded paths in the back.  Ice skating.  I loved this park so much.  Hundreds of fond, mischievous, happy memories here.

I used to sit on this thing all the time!  LOVED it.  Pretending to drive it.

The following group of photos below are just a smattering from Concord.  The streets I used to explore.  Walking home from school or hanging out with friends.  Heading to the mall.  Riding bikes across town to my best friends houses.  Going to the library or downtown.

This is the tiny general store about two blocks from our second house, to which my brother and I often walked after school for either a box of brownie mix or half a dozen donuts.


Then yesterday, after a stack of blueberry lavender pancakes was eaten while sitting on the dock overlooking the lake, my mom and I headed into Portsmouth for a daytrip.  Previously, I had only ever driven through this city in brief, never really delving into the center for any meaningful exploration.  This proved to be an awesome surprise.  Portsmouth is gorgeous.  Its right on the ocean.  All red brick buildings, narrow streets, cozy cafes, and trendy eateries.  Cute little boutique shops and inviting coffee shops.  Parks, lots of greenery, museums and of course, the harbor.  Portsmouth seems to be, at the moment, majorly where its at in New Hampshire.

We had lunch in the sumptuous Library restaurant.  Stately, gorgeous, majorly swanky.  We meandered and wandered the city.  I took loads of photos, as you can see.  Just below are photos of the Library Restaurant.

And then we stopped into Book and Bar, what would be my weekly haunt if ever living here.  Loving the atmosphere and concept.  No explanation needed.  The photos say it all, for those who know me ;-)

So.  My heart was previously set on Boston.  Now...I'm not so sure ;-)  We shall see.  Or, maybe Boston for a year or two and then Portsmouth.  I cant lie though.  I was a bit stunned to find my heart tugging me towards Portsmouth.  Seemingly a slight change of heart since the last time I was living in New England.  Finding myself charmed by the slightly smaller town, but equally as beautiful to Boston.  Portsmouth being scenic, happening, totally charming and quaint.  I kind of like the slightly smaller, cozier size.  Plus, its right on the sea.

All of the following photos are Portsmouth :-D.

The photos below are by the harbor in Portsmouth, right on the waterside...

Where mom and I spent New Years Eve nearly two years ago now.  The best night.

So, the tough parts about being back so far:

First, missing the people I grew to love back in Frankfurt.  I miss them, a lot.  Heart yearning for tea and food while sitting across from them.  Walking through Frankfurt together.  Going out for brunch.  Heading to the park for a picnic.  Any of the above.  And delving into one of our routine heart to heart conversations, coupled with laughter and loads of interesting topics. 

Second, while I am relieved to find it isn't as difficult as I thought it would be to keep up my way of eating back in Europe (generally consisting of lots of whole foods such as salmon, vegetables, coconut yogurt and berries, buckwheat pancakes, and quinoa bowls loaded with veggies), it is a bit more time intensive.  Finding these ingredients, as well as paying for them (several of these items more expensive here than in Germany).  And when running out of things, the nearest grocery store isn't a simple subway stop away.  Instead, its a 20 minute drive ;-p.  Not the worst thing, but still, not quite as accessible. 

And lastly, seeing the ghosts of previous relationships, remembering certain emotional states during different times in my life living in these towns, etc.  That has been a bit...jarring and disorienting.  In a couple moments, even slightly overwhelming.  However as time passes and new memories are made, a different kind of life built here, I know those things will lessen more and more.

It doesn't really feel as though I have moved here.  Instead, its feels more like I'm here just hangin out for a bit.  That my life in Europe isn't a closed chapter but instead, put on pause for the moment while I take a vacation here.  However all in all, small startling blast-from-the-past moments/memories aside (and brief weird moments aside such as a trip to Target the other day.  God, was that overwhelming and slightly depressing), I am loving being here. 

The lake (where I am living) is calming, inviting, so serene, an introverts paradise without question.  Reveling in the time I am spending with my mom.  Feeling cozy and at home here.  Finding a sense of comfy romance and nostalgia at driving around New England, where I grew up and one of my favorite places in the world.

The following photos are of where I am living right now, my home with my mom <3

Our dock <3 <3

See the dock and lake just outside our front door across the street!?! <3  Swoon.

Our street.  My mom used to live in that little brown house on the left.  LOVED it there.  So cozy and tiny.  She moved into the house just next door ;-), where she lives now.

Also our street.

Our dock :-D

My moms :-D

Robert Alberta Tyrone <3.  Hes a snuggly little guy.

The awesome quotes my mom wrote out for me and placed in my room.  Love both of them. 

The gorgeous flowers she arranged and put in my room for me :-D

Coming up soon: stay tuned for job searching...where will I end up working and doing what?  Where will I settle on living?  Boston or Portsmouth?  Or somewhere else entirely? 

Projects and goals in the works: very hopefully publishing a book sometime in the future...changing up the blog focus a bit...reconnecting with and strengthening the close friendships I have here...continuing my project of Sweet. Raw. Free, finding some new friends with promising potential and then building up those relationships, taking a writing class in Boston.  To name just a few exciting things that (fingers crossed) are in the works and brewing. 

Man, oh man, isn't life fun?  Not knowing where its going to take you.  Five years ago, if someone had told me all of what would come to pass.  Moving to Europe in the first place.  Then staying there for FOUR years!  (I had planned on only staying for one.  In fact, was insistent for months even after arriving there and totally loving it).  Now finding myself back, which was a choice I made despite loving Europe.  Something in me tugging my heart back towards New England right now.  SO sure I was in the months leading up to coming back here that I would end up in Boston.  And though this is still highly likely, now Portsmouth is glittering on my radar.  Who would have thought?  All of it, sweet and stunning surprises.  Life can take you to so many thrilling, unexpected, magical and growth inducing places, people and things.  If only open to it all :-D  I try to keep that in mind in the moments I feel scared, stuck or hesitant.  And have loved where its taken me thus far.  So thrilled and full of anticipation for what the next chapter holds.

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