Friday, December 28, 2012

Chapter 1: Starting Out

Things have suddenly all changed for us. Our sons are pretty much grown up, one in grad school at Columbia and the other at the University of Texas at San Antonio with one more year to go. In some ways their upbringing seems to have taken no time at all--a brief episode in my marriage to Lawna--and then in other ways their childhoods seem to have been a long time ago. Time plays trick on our perceptions, or maybe it's the other way around. I guess really it's our perceptions that govern the length of time. Anyway, that's where Lawna and I have arrived: the beginnings of the empty nest, a combination of some new found  loneliness and liberation. It's a bittersweet mix, sweetened particularly with the awareness that Michael and Brian have grown to be fine men.

Added to that are the animals: two senior dogs that have both grown old as the two boys have grown up. A human childhood is a lifetime for a dog. They're both moving slowly with considerably diminished alertness, napping even more than before. Then there's the young cat that Michael left with us when he couldn't keep him at Columbia. I had never lived with a cat before. I just knew that they made my eyes itch. I tried to be firm and put my foot down. No cat! The cat knew who he needed to charm, and now he comes to me for petting. He's a cool cat, definitely. Now I finally understand the cat mystique. He's indeed a regal, furry prince. A little fat, too.Petting him does make my eyes itch, but I just wash my hands after touching him, and then I'm usually OK. He has ingratiated himself into the family, up onto the warm lap of grandpa: me.

But, now for the real change, which is what this blog is all about. Lawna has been working as a federal civil servant for the thirty years we've been married, and I have been a community college and university English teacher most of that time. We have resided in two houses in San Antonio, within a few miles of one another. Both of our sets of parents survive here in town. We're pretty rooted, stable and even sometimes a little boring, at least to an old military brat like me. Now the military has stepped back in. Lawna is being sent to work in  Germany for three years. Of course, that means me too.

So that opens this blog--a grand adventure. There's a lot I could blather about in this blog. I'm usually not at a loss of things to write once I get started, but my focus here will be on the travel and the cultural transitions ahead. I'm 100% excited--I have not lived outside the US since I was a child. I was an Air Force child, and my family was stationed in Japan and Hawaii during formative years of my life. I have long had the itch to live abroad. Lawna's excitement is more measured. She is a native San Antonio girl who has lived nowhere else, and her family roots go back to the founding of the city. My parents, on the other hand, are from Michigan. I have lived in San Antonio most of my life, but I don't feel that rooted. I love leaving town. I have always wanted to live in Germany. Now it is happening.

But, before heading out to Europe, Lawna and I already have a Caribbean cruise scheduled for a week from now. That experience will be the subject of the first part of this blog. We planned this cruise before we knew about my wife's new job. Suddenly it seems anti-climactic, and actually a distraction because we have a lot of preparations to make for our big move. But, I'm sure the cruise will be fun once we embark from Galveston. To two Texas homebodies, this is an embarrassment of riches.

Over the next weeks and months, dear reader, I will keep you posted.

Auf wiedersehen!

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