October 30, 2018

While We Were Here

I did not have a plan on how to write this post.

It's a story and a journey and a lifetime; and it runs so much deeper than can be defined by the eight days that we passed together.

I had waited over seven years for a member of my immediate family to visit us in Europe. The more seasons that went by, the more difficult it became to talk about. Do I act like I don't care and make jokes? Do I wear my disappoint on my sleeve and let it affect our relationships? I floated between emotions...the emotions that most people who have ever moved to a new place experience as they struggle between holding onto a past that no longer exists and forging ahead into the reality of the future.

I know my family was also waiting. Waiting for us to eventually just come back for good.

I don't know if it was that enough time had passed to convince them we weren't coming back, or if my earnest plea of "how much it would mean to me" really hit home - but when my sister and her husband bought their plane tickets for their October trip, all I knew was that this visit was going to be a huge milestone in our lives.

I am so, so grateful to all of our friends and extended family who have come to visit us wherever we have been over the past several years. I know it costs a lot of money, time, and energy to make these travel experiences happen. But I can say for sure that none of our previous visitors have had to overcome a variety of obstacles to get to us like Lindsay and Justin did.

That's why when I drove to pick up my little sister at the Munich airport, I was already mentally prepared for the overflow of tears that had been welling up inside of me for years. YES, that is very dramatic, but it begins to describe how deeply I wanted - nay, needed - my family to come and see this totally different world and life we had found.

Hugging Lindsay inside Munich's Terminal felt: miraculous. That's the only word to use. I could barely believe it was finally happening and we both quietly held each other, previous sadnesses melting into relief and happiness through our tears.

[Justin and Marc were there the whole time and the whole trip, and they had a great time, but this journey is a lot less about them and much more about renewed sisterhood. BUT we do have Justin to thank for making the entire trip and event happen, so this is that shout-out: THANK YOU!!!]

We had the typical Vilsbiburg adventures (plus they added a road trip to Hallstatt!) and enjoyed the best weather we had had in months. They also got to come to my second game of the season, an away game against DJK M√ľnchen-Ost. Last season we had a really hard match there, and this season had some unpredictable factors that made me a little bit unsure about the game ahead of time.

However, I loved having Lindsay - also my former volleyball teammate - there, and thrived with the opportunity to display what I had been doing in Europe for the past 1/4 of my lifetime. We won the game three sets to one, all very close, and it was a very fun game to be a part of. The icing on the cake was that the other team's coach chose me as my team's MVP for the match. This has been a rare event in general (not every league/club does this post-game award), but to have it happen when Lindsay was in the actual audience?! Cue more tears, and just overwhelming gratefulness.

I think that's probably the best concept to describe their trip: gratefulness. I felt even more thankful that I was still able to play volleyball, thankful to live in an interesting and special part of the world, and beyond thankful to get to share it with the person I grew up with.

There are pros and cons to every set of decisions that determine our current life situation. When you know you've made the right decisions and your closest friends and family choose to support you, it means everything.

Thank you, Lindsay and Justin, for taking the time to be with us while we were here.