I still sometimes struggle with the realities of living in a small town. I am a city person and I miss the noises, the hustle, the diversity, the excitement, and the liveliness of a city.
While I can’t say that I dislike life where I am now, I also get overtaken by a strong longing for life as I knew it in Munich or in the other cities of my past. I miss going to the opera for only 8 Euros, I miss the people-watching and the fashion, I miss having a selection of many wonderful restaurants and even more wonderful beer gardens and sidewalk cafes, I miss having the choice of many different parks and beautiful running routes – some that make you forget that you are in a city entirely and others that snake around the Isar river and along busy urban streets full of life and entertainment. I miss that I could not have plans for a Friday night and just jump on the subway from my house, ride it to Odeonsplatz in the heart of Munich, get off and climb the stairs to a most beautiful plaza, then following the crowds and getting swept up in the rhythm and hustle of the city. That the night would be bright and loud and alive.
Meanwhile, life as I know it today…
What makes me most happy in life is being with my husband and our animals – our little family. I could be back in the boonies of Mississippi – a place to which I decidedly never acclimated – but still be happy to come home to the people and creatures I love. But despite knowing this and appreciating that home is where family is, I still can’t help but long for the places that I’ve discovered, loved, and am sad to have left.
So I’m looking for ways to feel alive and happy in the here and now. To live in the present. And as cliché as this may sound, riding my bike has much aided this resolution. Nothing makes me feel even more trapped and isolated than driving alone in a car the same routes to work and home and never really encountering strangers, overhearing conversations, noticing the changing seasons, or making impromptu stops. Riding around town, I look at the houses now all decorated for Halloween, I stop and take pictures whenever I feel like it, I wind around and take impromptu turns and find new routes for getting home. I discover campus and frequent my favorite thrift store, telling myself that I’m just locking my bike up for a minute and only just peaking in. I peruse the used bookstore aisles and watch the leaves turn orange and feel the morning air get colder.
And then I slowly pedal home, park my bike in the driveway, remove my helmet and walk on into our house, where an excited dog greets me and where I am – no matter what – always home.