We spent our final day in Munich in fitting fashion. A walk through the English Gardens. Sausage for lunch. A trip to the Marienplatz for our fourth visit to the Christkindlmarkt. An afternoon coffee. German goulash and Weissbier for dinner. A subway ride back to Hohenzollernplatz. And now some quiet time at the apartment with the Slingbox.
As perfect as the day was (we even had a light snowfall to further put us in a Christmas mood), it did little to change the fact that both of us are carrying heavy hearts as we say goodbye to our time abroad — a time that won us over far more than either of us thought it ever would. We’re going to miss this place very much and, as excited as we are for our return to Milwaukee, we’re equally as subdued by the reality that we’ll never, ever, ever have a year quite like this again.
I’m going to miss the German culture and their way of life.
I’m going to miss saying “entschuldigen,”” “bitte,” “danke schoen” and “tschüs!”
I’m really going to miss the unstructured schedule — the ability to do what I want when I want to.
I’m going to miss going to bed at 2 a.m. and sleeping until 10 a.m.
I’m going to miss having beer with almost every meal. Sure, I know that I still can. But I won’t because it wouldn’t be the same.
I’m going to miss having the single unit of currency be in coin form as opposed to paper. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, America needs to permanently move to a $1 coin.
I’m going to miss year-round chocolate-filled croissants, brats and soft pretzels.
I’m going to miss actual beer gardens (not just ‘patios’).
I’m going to miss traveling to different cultures with entirely different languages and ways of life — and making those trips in just two days.
I’m going to miss working from home.
I’m going to miss the English Gardens and the Marienplatz.
I’m going to miss running through Luitpold Park.
I’m going to miss using public transportation.
I’m going to miss not having a car.
I’m going to miss trips to the grocery store where I only fill up one bag because I know I can easily walk back the next day or the day after.
I’m going to miss playing tour guide with family and friends.
I’m going to miss the excitement of a trip back to the States and the excitement of getting back to life in Munich.
I’m going to miss Dhaba’s Indian food.
I’m going to miss the U-bahn man.
I’m going to miss being able to go to Oktoberfest four times in one year because I live so close.
I’m going to miss being able to eat whatever I want and not gain any weight because of the fact that I walk or bike everywhere.
I’m going to miss using a bike as my main means of transportation.
I’m going to miss the insane amount of free time I had to spend on personal projects this year.
I’m going to miss trying to speak and read German.
I’m going to miss Katie correcting me when I try to speak and read German.
I’m going to miss cobblestone streets.
I’m going to miss being able to buy a Schneider-Weisse beer for only a buck.
I’m going to miss playing Sheepshead at the Hofbräuhaus.
I’m going to miss a lot.
But each item in the above list pales in comparison to the thing I’m going to miss the most — the thing that has my heart aching and has literally moved me to tears more than once today. More than anything else from this year, I’m going to miss the one-on-one time with Katie.
That sounds kind of weird when you consider that I’m going to spend the rest of my life with her. But we’ll never have the ‘together time’ that we had this year. Even if I were to do nothing else in life but work my 9-to-5 job and then spend every other waking minute with Katie, I still wouldn’t see her as much as I did this year. We did everything together and went everywhere together. Aside from that one day in July when she went off to Dublin for the morning and afternoon, we were inseparable. To those of you reading this who are in a relationship, that probably sounds kind of miserable. How could we not have gotten sick of each other? I don’t know. But we didn’t. And when I think about all of the amazing places, people, cultures, languages, foods, drinks, events, etc, that we’re going to miss, none of it can hold a candle to how much I’m going to miss spending nearly every second of every day with my wife.
A trip like this changes a person. Katie and I are no exception. Who we are as individuals is forever changed because of this 11-month stint on another continent. But we’ll also never be the same couple. I’ll be the first to say that we were a fantastic couple before we left in January. We were very much in love and each lived to see the other person happy. But after spending so much time as one another’s sole companion and after experiencing so many new things with only each other, we now have a new appreciation for what it means to be someone’s life partner.
Sorry to get all mushy in this final Munich-based post (we’ll have a few follow-up posts once we’re back in the States), but I had to share the emotions of our last day abroad. Thanks for experiencing this journey with us. I’d love to write even more, but that 5:30 a.m. wake-up call is fast approaching and a long day of travel is ahead of us.
From Milwaukee to Munich. And back again. What a ride it was.