Jon has been here in Germany for going on 2 years and I'm just shy of a year and a half and in that time I've come across a really cool phenomena. I'll call it the Expat phenomena. When you meet an expat (or a spouse of an expat) there is this bond - friendship - respect (okay so I'm not exactly sure what it is) that instantly forms and you find yourself connected to each other more quickly and deeply than in a normal relationship. Let me tell you five little stories to demonstrate my point.
I moved to Germany and didn't have a single friend besides my busy husband and 3 month old baby. Jon arranged for his friends wife to come and pick me up so we could go "climbing" with them. I was scared to death. I don't know this woman and I'm going to get in her car with my baby and have her drive us to an abandoned query. Smart! Well it was actually the smartest thing I did. That was my good friend Katrin and we were fast friends and I can see us staying in touch for years and years to come.
I was sitting with Alessandra and the girls in the park when a mother/daughter pair approached me and started chatting. I apologized for my bad German and we started talking in English. Just like that I found myself with two new American friends that live right across the street. Knowing I have these English speaking ladies so close puts me at ease a bit. Now I know if anything were to happen, if God forgive there was an emergency, I have someone close by who can help me.
Since the move we haven't found a babysitter or more importantly a puppysitter. I put up an inquiry on facebook if anyone knew of a good puppysitter in the area. Then I added, more out of humor than anything else, or would anyone want to cuddle on our pups for the weekend? And what happnes... you guessed it, an expat comes to my rescue. These particular expats are from England and they took our girls without a second thought. And what was more impressive is the girls were returned happy and healthy. AMAZING!!
When we were preparing for our May Day trip I was desperately searching for a used Ergo baby carrier to buy for our trip. You may remember that half of my carrier got stolen along with the stroller while we were in Leipzig and since then I've just used Jon's carrier - which starts to hurt my back after about 15 minutes because it's too large. Or use the remaining half of mine with half of Jon's - not ideal but it works. I really want a carrier that is soft/structured, easy to put on/take off, and could go on my back or front - the Ergo does all of these things. Everyone I know who owns an Ergo says they love it but I was not willing to spend the money for a new one.
While on this last minute, frantic search, two amazing expats came out of the wood work. Now keep in mind these two folks aren't my friends in fact when this story came about I hadn't even met them yet. The first offered to let me borrow his carrier for the long weekend. How did he know he could trust me? That I wouldn't ruin it, or lose it, or steal it. He didn't, but I was in need so he took that chance for me - a fellow expat. The second told me about an Ergo carrier she saw at a store, she not only let me know about it but offered to pick it up for me. What?!? Once again she didn't know me but offered to go out of her way to help me. I was humbled and floored - what an amazing little community I've stumbled upon.
The fifth and final story brings us to today. We headed to the grocery store but I had a hankering for a coffee and some down time before we did our shopping. We were enjoying our warm drinks and conversation when Jon says to me - "He's an American." about a guy who came in and placed his order.
"What? How can you tell?" I asked.
"He has an American Accent." Jon said assuredly.
As we were leaving I noticed he was right. The man was speaking English with his wife and sure enough they were American. I asked them where they were from and before we knew it we were making dinner plans with them for that evening to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
I am missing my friends and family from back home so much. It's been almost a year since I've been home. But finding this amazing community has really helped Germany and this little adventure we've gone on seem a little less scary and a lot less lonely.