“Is he still on the boat?”
“He’s still on the boat!!”
As I looked out to the harbor, there was S in his bright orange shirt and bright green wayfarers, smiling and clutching the old boat’s railing as it returned to the dock…for the second time. While the captain loved our groups’ high spirits, the rest of the passengers, unfortunately, did not share the sentiment. I’m sure they were thrilled when we all got off at stop one of three, which is precisely the moment that S thought was a good time to use the loo. And then the boat took off. And then it came back. Our group in uproariously laughter, tipsy from our cruise during which we supplied some delicious Croatian boxed wine and several plastic two liter bottles of beer, took off into the town for another memorable evening on the Dalmatian coast.
“once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” – e.e. cummings
Last week S and I celebrated three years together and my 29th birthday, and I am now about a month and a half into my sabbatical. This seems like a good time to check in on the progress of my year abroad.
On a wing and a prayer. My view approaching Frankfurt.
I am happy to report that I’ve arrived safely in Germany and am, as the German’s say, “sliding in” to what portends to be a very happy new year. Arriving about a week ago, I unpacked most of my clothes and the essentials that I shipped from home – cook books for all of the cooking that I plan to do with my new found spare time and the thrice weekly outdoor markets of Mainz, a few framed photographs, Scrabble, and a few other odds and ends. I’m lucky that my fiancé (I’ll call him “S” here) preceded me in the move (by about a year) and found this lovely two-story apartment (photos to come) right on the city’s main square and across from a 1,000 year old cathedral, the Mainzer Dom, who’s bells – charming during the day, but quite annoying first thing in the morning – ring every hour.
S and I spent New Year’s Eve or “Silvester” at the Kurhaus in Wiesbaden. We sipped champagne and sekt with fun and welcoming friends from S’s office, tried our hand (unsuccessfully) at roulette and black jack, and “slid into the new year” with an amazing firework display over downtown Wiesbaden.
S and I at the Kurhaus
“You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there”. – Yogi Berra
The last time I felt like this was my first day of college. Driving up to campus, taking in the gothic architecture, feeling the weight and inspiration of great minds that had come before, I felt like the future held unlimited possibilities – possibilities that I didn’t even know existed. I felt like anything could happen. Today, with much less structure and no path paved for me, I feel the same sense of exhilaration that anything could happen.
Yesterday, I left my job of three years as an associate at a large DC law firm to move half-way across the world to Germany for a one-year sabbatical. This grown-up gap year feels like the first time I’ve looked up from what I thought was “the path” and chosen the detour. Although it doesn’t feel like a detour. It feels exciting. It feels like leaning in, although maybe not in the way that Sheryl Sandberg meant it. It feels like I am doing something that could change my life.
I haven’t had this lack of plans, lack of to-do list, lack of daily meetings for quite a long time. What do I do now? Do I change my identity? Buy a Vespa and and some hipster moto pants? Do I get bangs? The last time I “got bangs”, I didn’t actually wait to “get” them, I made them myself with a pair of child safety scissors. To this day, my first grade school photo continues to bring shame upon my family (even without the laser background). Maybe no bangs.
For now, it’s off to the land of breaded meats, hops and barley. I have my computer, my camera, far too many pairs of shoes, a few extra butterflies, and an appetite for exploration. I feel like anything could happen.