Sunday, September 25, 2011


I arrived here on the 1st of June, 2008.

I'd fallen in love with a soldier in Korea less than a year before and we'd decided to stay together by both going to Germany. Germany was our hope for two people from different worlds to stay together.

When I arrived, I was homeless, jobless and hoping for enough luck to not only survive but thrive. I had money that I'd saved in Korea, but the won to the euro is a huge leap in terms of how far your money will get you and soon, I was almost out of money too. To complicate matters, my then fiance, was scheduled to be deployed in August.

For the first month, I stayed in a tent, lined up job interviews in various places and then attended them, dictionary in hand.

Things started to get desperate but somehow, in the first week in July, I got offers for two different jobs and found a room in an apartment that I could afford.

I worked hard and so did my fiance and at some point, we started to consider marrying sooner than we'd wanted. On the 6th of August 2008, we tied the knot in a small ceremony without family and about two weeks later I saw him off to war.

To this day, it upsets me to think about that night and how it felt to say goodbye and not know if I'd see the man I love ever again.

For a year, I worked hard, resolved to grow roses from the shit I was being given and try to make my husband proud of me. I taught in about four different cities, travelled, moved house alone and tried to make a home.

I made friends, great friends that somehow brightened this time.

Around the 20th of August, I welcomed him home and we started out life together.

On the 4th of December 2009,our respective families and those true friends travelled to Denmark, to witness my husband and I marry in a Heathen wedding. The lady that introduced us in Korea performed the ceremony and an online friend that happened to live on the same island as we had our wedding became a real life friend too. It was beautiful. A couple of days later, we went on our honeymoon, travelling through Denmark and Sweden.

Now we're packing up to leave Germany and begin the next stage of our life together. Another land, another way of life.

We have had the best of times and the worst of times here in Germany, but this place feels like home to me, or the nearest thing now that I feel like a tourist when I go back to my own country.

Germans are in some ways very similar to the English, a little more skeptical by nature (unless what they're being told is in some course that they've paid for - like the 'therapy' session I used to spy on through a window in Erlangen in which people would dance round a stick in the middle of the room while banging on drums). They have a wonderful sense of humour, don't offer friendship in a fake way and I love the way the Franconians talk.

No matter how far I travel from Germany, I think my idea of heaven will now always be sitting in a beer garden, in the middle of a forest, on a hill, surrounded by elderly Franconians and enjoying spectacular beer and Schaeuferle.

I have 23 days left here.

This last weekend, we were honoured to spend Herbstfest with a local hearth by the name of Bilskirnir and attended a very moving offrung in the woods before returning to feast and sumbel. Today, my husband and I climbed the Neubuerg for the last time while we're here and made offrung there too.

Time is running out and in some ways, I'm trying to grasp onto what I can, like the sleeping dog that clings to the rug that's being pulled from underneath him. In other ways, I *know* that the next stage of life lies over the sea, in the New World and to some degree I embrace it.

So, this is to Germany, a land I love and hope to return to one day.


Mark Andersen said...

Quite a story. I didn't realize how difficult it was for you getting started over there.

I share your same version of heaven and am glad to have had a chance to have been there with you to share it a couple of times.


Birka said...

It was hard, Mark. But my husband was worth it. I wouldn't have moved across the world from a free apartment and a job in which I could save $1000 a month for anyone else :). In a way, we both paid our dues during that first year here in Germany. He re-enlisted to stay with me even though it meant his deployment and I worked my butt off to survive in a hard country to stay with him. We both just thought of it as us building our luck for the future. We both got involved in helping out our communities to further build that luck and today we have a strong marriage, are together and have no further deployments on the horizon :). It's because of these difficulties that I get so pissed when people assume I got with him for a greencard.

Oh and yes, it was great to meet you in one of those areas of heaven and discover more of those with the inimitable Gnomey.