Archive for the 'Landscape' Category

No Place Like It

Oh Home.

Nothing like that feeling that washes over you when you go back to where you came from, it’s like a sigh of relief with a tinge of regret.  While I was in DC I had a chat with a fellow Islander that’s also moved around and done a lot of traveling, we exchanged the knowing head nod about Whidbey.  We talked about how there’s always a bit of an urge to go back there especially since we both have a bit of uneasiness about where we are now, which changes pretty frequently.

“If a place was like something you wore, Whidbey would be sweat pants.  It’s so comfortable and it’s nice to wear them every once and a while but you know I just can’t wear them all the time.”

Visiting is so different, you already know a few months down the road you’ll find yourself with longing for this place again.  I try to soak it up, especially in the summer which is the best time for visits.  I try to go night swmming at least once, hang out with my family as much as I can, and spend a little quality time with the place I never remember not knowing.

This visit was short, too short, but I got a chance to do a hike with my Mom, take Liam to swim class, pet the dogs, help with a Brunch my Mom put together to celebrate Annexea graduating from 8th grade/my parents anniversary, get ridiculously sun burned with Katya and Ashley on Double Bluff, and spend a night in Seattle with Miss Jessica.

After swapping out some clothes and sighing at all my things in boxes I packed my bag again and headed for New York.

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That Was Then, This is Now

After  hard goodbye with Katie I was on the train to DC for the wedding that started this whole trip and a squeal filled reunion with the girls from Florence.

It was Kimmie and I at one end of the hall, Kelly, Kristin (who came together from DC), and Hannah at the other end.  That semester seems so far away now but I find myself thinking of it all the time.  We really became close, we spent nearly all our time together developing inside jokes with the staff, traveling, and occasionally admitting to missing home.  In the last days of our time together we talked about reuniting in Florence someday, how great that would be.

That thought seems pretty naive now but I’m proud to say we’ve done better than most.  Hannah and I have visited one another a few times (me to GA then her to MA), Kristin and I wrote letters, and even though this visit was hectic it felt wonderful to have almost all of us together again.

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Kelly, Kristin, Hannah Frances Baby Baker (as we like to call her), and me.

(Kim-we missed you!)

It was a beautiful wedding and a wonderful trip to DC.  We all marveled at Kristin’s hard work (yea, she crochetted that dress herself!), I took silly sweet photos of Hannah and her boyfriend Brian, I got to meet up for a lot of wonderful conversation with my dear friend Lcy Daumen from home (such good conversation that I completely forgot to take any photos), and Hannah and Brian showed me around including a wonderful visit to the Art o Matic.

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Happy Bride and Groom!

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Thanks to Kristin and Ed for a lovely ceremony, I was so happy to be there.  And big thanks to Hannah and Brian for showing me such a great time!  Come to NY!

*apparently I’ve reached my photo quota, more to come as soon as I can!

Show Me Where You Live Miss Kakalak!

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Delicious lunch!

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Rock Collection

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Bottle Tree

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Sister and Brother and rifle, aw.

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Eeek

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Then we were done shooting, that bottom left one right in the orange, I did that.  First time, no biggie.

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Katie’s face for ‘you can take a picture if you want but you are missin out on petting this cuteness’

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Garlic bulbs and a beautiful bunny

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Zac, Katie, and their flannel love

DSC_0967Does it get any better than that? Amazing.

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Then Katie took me to the Reynolda Gardens

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Then Katie said ‘psst, come over here’ and showed brought me inside a giant Magnolia tree,

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It was pretty much one of those fantastic moments you keep smiling about.

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Magnolia pedal hat.

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Then of course some used books, Little Richards BBQ, and Basti.

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Thanks so much to Zac and Katie and her whole family for making my trip so wonderful!

Never in the Same Place

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Ok, so by now I’ve done this a few times.  No big deal.  You live abroad in another culture for a while and coming back to your own is a little less comfortable than you thought it would be.  It’s like the senses are heightened for a bit; all of a sudden you can understand the conversations going on around you, there’s no need for the just checking that we understand one another pause after talking, and the magazines and books well they are everywhere and it feels like someone has put them there just for you. But then you’re back and you remember what it’s like and your old habits come quickly, pretty soon you’re talking fast and not paying much attention to things unless they’re in front of you.

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After my first four months abroad in Florence I flew out to Amsterdam then Detroit then Seattle.  I remember being so confused when I went to grab a cart in Detroit customs and realized you had to pay.  What?! No that’s not right, how am I supposed to have American money let alone four quarters? They’d been free in Amsterdam and Florence, pfft, America.  Then I went out into the domestic flights terminal and wondered if there was some sort of bacon convention going on.  It smelled awful and it seemed like the majority of people around me were terribly overweight.  Friends laughed when I told them and then we’d be back in comfortable conversations like; listing all that’s wrong with the US and how Bush made us want to move abroad.

The next time I wasn’t very phased at all.  I cursed the carts and patted myself on the back for checking all my luggage (this was the time that all my luggage was lost from Dec 17th until Christmas).  I over eagerly eavesdropped and accidentally said ‘grazie’ instead of thanks which recieved skeptical glares.  Right.  Then I raced home to be with my family, cook in a kitchen I knew, and watch Law and Order reruns at my leisure. But that was short and sweet, I savored what American things I could then headed right back overseas.

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This time is different. Maybe it’s because I assumed I knew how to handle it and it caught me off guard or the that I didn’t go back to my hometown first, or that I was coming from Germany instead of Italy, or that this is the first time I didn’t feel conflicted about leaving, or everything, maybe it’s everything.

First I forgot my own currency for a minute and had to remind myself that we no longer use fifty cent pieces, I mean it’s been a while but come on, then days later I find myself at a mall where I feel like some sort of alien sent to observe; I touch everything and have to stop myself from gawking at mother and daughter shopping teams, and awkward groups of teenagers.  The strange thing was a lot of people looked just as confused as me, searching for answers or comfort by buying something from the sale section. I used to love to hunt for things while shopping but even later on my visit in New York of all places I find myself overwhelmed and kind of repulsed by it.  It even hit me on Whidbey, I started pulling out my camera in those touristy places I’ve seen people take the same pictures in all my life, suddenly I had a great need for my own.

I’ve always felt I was pretty quick to adapt.  I don’t get grossed out that easily, I can convince myself that things are going to be alright long enough to stay calm through the things that aren’t, and when I can’t handle things on my own I can be open to trusting the compassion of strangers.  However, I’m starting to feel this lost feeling that doesn’t go away.  I suppose when you feel like you can acclimate to anywhere it’s most difficult to realize there’s nowhere you don’t have to adjust.

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Before America

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Lunch with Sister at the festival.

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Moving out

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Indecisive weather for weeks

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Somewhere in between teaching we went to Budapest

I remember watching travel shows where people are meeting and trusting strangers at what seemed to me an alarmingly quick rate but now that I’ve been in some of those situations I must say, it’s far easier than you’d think.

We taught together for a week which doesn’t seem long but when in a small town teaching children from 8 to 3pm every day you bond really quickly.  The hotel pool, hot tub, and wine spritzers didn’t hurt either.  Half the teachers live in Budapest, the rest of us Berlin.  The company prefers when you work weeks in a row so that you don’t have to go all the way back to Berlin, they put you up in Vienna at a hostel.  Some of the other Berliners mentioned they would rather go back to Budapest with the others than back to Vienna.  All of a sudden it was Friday and with no idea what I was doing it seemed logical to take the extra seat in the van and join my new friends.

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And I’m so glad I did.  Budapest was great, it all felt very grand and chaotic.  As we were driving in all of us sort of realized simultaneously that we hadn’t made any arrangements for where we might sleep or what we were planning on doing while we were there.  It was all a bit surreal, one of the other teachers called a friend and we ended up staying with him one night and another teacher the next.  It seemed like a set up for some sort of bad movie where everything goes wrong and then in the end everyone realizes they need to let go of their high expectations blah blah blah; but really nothing particularly bad happened.

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Now off to Austria with You, Go On Now

Then I took a job teaching English in Austria.  I met some amazing people (teachers come from Budapest and Berlin) and hung out with some really amazing kids.  Three different weeks in three very different small towns.  Photos soon I promise!

Zistersdorf

Bad Gastein

Tulln


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