I didn’t know what was around the corner. I had a sneaking suspicion that my time with one if my parents would be cut short. Cincinnati was my home base. I was healed and launched out of my adopted hometown into real life. Long lasting friendships were formed there that would quickly leave after the assault of my mother’s death.
I had no idea that I would fall in love, graduate college, get married and lose my mother all in the space of 4 years after the best years of my life in Cincinnati. My brother had formed a group of friends who hung out and drank with my mom. She welcomed them to our place and partied with us, as long as we listened to Seger, Journey and Neil Young. We made her feel young again.
At age 20 everyone was on a new adventure, college, moving, military, all starting new lives.
The 20’s is a time warp. We are so busy trying to construct the life we thought we wanted, we don’t have the time to sit back and see that we have it already. My 20’s were an emotional blip that completely past me by and disconnected me to where I came from.
Now almost 37, a surprise guest enters the picture. My brother is visiting me in the Netherlands. He has reconnected to an old family friend where he had a falling out. Turns out he lives in Germany on a military base only four hours from me. We rent a car, drive over, have an amazing German dinner while I am time warped back into my late teens, as if we are in Cincinnati.
We talked about the military, his young family, traveling the world, our stories. It’s a chance for both my brother and me to reconnect to something that was lost. Our friend a humble beacon of light bringing us to him, in Germany no less.
It was a visceral experience as my body trembled. I didn’t know exactly how to behave. I tried to calm down but couldn’t seem to manage. It was like an electric restart where the power cables from my friend connected to me ad if to say, “Hey you are still that beautiful person that I remember.” He didn’t see all that I’ve been through. He remembers only good things about my mom-something I decided needed to stay that way.
We celebrated his triumphs. As gunnery sergeant who enlisted right after 9/11, he’s seen some shit. He’s had multiple tours of duty, and suffered PTSD. I know PTSD. It’s not just for the soldiers. In the same period of time I faced my own war and reintegrations back to society. We understood each other.
I longed to be understood by a family member. Someone who was there in the happiest moment of my life. He also needed to connect. He loved my mom. He was a brother we lost. Family is again close by.
It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, if the right people are there you can find home. My homesickness has been bad this year. I’ve put down the midwest for it’s lack of diversity, single mindedness, and boring everything. But It’s home. Living in the Netherlands is great, but it doesn’t quite put me back in my power like talking with my family in an unfiltered way. I am not fully myself in the Netherlands, even with other Americans because of regional differences.
This fact alone makes me seriously consider if expat life is really for me. The situation in America right now is so dire that I just cannot live there. Tensions are even higher than they were in 2010, the year I left. US Elementary schools don’t live up to the Dutch schools. The Netherlands is one of 10 happiest prosperous countries in the world. Dare I say it, but socialism works!
Yes it shrinks economic mobility, but it protects the middle class. These days no one is really moving up the economic ladder at home.
If it were only me, I’d move back and find a place that suits me, but my family here is safe, thriving and prosperous in the Netherlands. And now, I have found a small piece of home only four hours from me, not unlike my regular trips from Cincinnati to Chicago.
Intuitively I knew huge changes were coming. Gifts I could not understand. My friend who has accepted his ghosts, as I have mine, are now reconnected. And he is as american as apple pie, football, honey-do lists and the american flag. He’s exactly what my Dutch family needs.
We are looking forward to making plans. Gratitude is not even the word I can describe for what happened last night. It was a lifeline. A connection I didn’t know I missed. Someone I thought was lost to the past both due to trauma and time. Gratitude doesn’t even cut it. It’s a miracle that reminds me how lucky we are to live in Europe and have a wonderful family-that by the way lets me go on a random trip with my brother without question and takes care of my kids for 2 days.
Lastly, all is love and forgiveness. It’s hard to see and feel, especially when doubts, regrets and traumas chase you day and night. 15 years of separation brought atonement and forgiveness for us all. It’s like a warm pink blanket cloud hovering over us. We just need to put our usb cord in it. Miracles can occur at this vibration and everyone becomes healed and whole. The only caveat is your own mental self must be aligned with the collective goal of healing and not only your own. Forgiveness is not just a one way street it heals for miles with just a single dose.
Lessons learned, pain healed, love re-found. Could there be a better way to start my 38th year only 3 weeks from now?