CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, USA — It’s exactly one week before we pack up and perform the mad scramble for passports, itineraries and favorite socks.
One week until we say goodbye to friends and family and puppies and not know exactly when we’ll see them again or what will have changed when we do. One week until we board the plane, order a drink and sit back to realize the enormity and utter excitement that comes with picking up and moving to an entirely new country.
It’s not that these pre-departure jitters and double-checks are new. It’s the same when preparing for any great trip — be it three days in Missouri or three months in Southeast Asia. But, as I’m learning quickly, somehow there is an element of this old ritual that is more permanent than anything that’s come before.
A week out and — as cliche as it sounds — I’m starting to notice the little things. Cherishing – as much as humanly possible – the last rickety, delay-ridden ride on the Chicago El. An extra slice of sausage pizza when two would be plenty. A quick goodbye hug with a friend that lasts an extra second longer as you both realize the next beer isn’t coming next Saturday, but next September. These things are bittersweet in the best sense of the word: a strange emotional mix of coming excitement and a premature nostalgia that reminds us why we love the people, places and things that we do.
Marty asked me the other night what I’d miss most. It’s damned hard to put a finger on that answer exactly. But the one thing that is so devilishly fleeting is that perfect sense of bittersweetness — possibilities rather than realities, quaint farewells instead of deep, sad longing.
Maybe it’s that sometimes we throw ourselves to deeply into the preparation or the trip, that we forget to truly appreciate the departure.
This is the first crack at what will hopefully be a long collection of stories, photos, thoughts and happenings as Molly, Addison and I embark on our first crack at being expats in Munich, Germany.