It's incredible the things you find when unpacking. We were shocked upon our return to America to open the storage unit in Idaho Falls where we'd stashed a bunch of our crap pre-Germany to find it full of stuff we had no recollection of keeping.
I was thrilled and delighted at the extent of kitchen stuff we had. Pre-Germany I did not cook. At all. We had all these great kitchen things from our wedding that I never used. Strangely, it was in Germany, where we had hardly any kitchen stuff (one casserole dish, two mixing bowls, and a whisk) where I finally decided to attempt self-domestication. It was dicey for a while, Jake will tell you, but we came out the other end OK. I can now say, without reservation, that I can kind of cook a little bit. Thing is, since I learned without the gadgetry, I'm sort of scared to use it. I still haven't plugged in the electric hand mixer. I figure mixing with a spoon/whisk/hands helps to burn off a couple of the calories I'm bound to take in eating whatever is I'm preparing. I didn't say I was a very healthy cook.
Another treasure was the boxes of letters I kept from the days when I was a good letter writer. There were lots of letters from friends and a number from my grandmother who passed away last summer just shy of her 95th birthday. I couldn't come back for the funeral and that ate me up a great deal. On the beautiful summer day that it was held, Jethro and I went for a bike ride through Dresden's glorious Großer Garten and played among the flowers and squirrels and birds, which, considering her love of nature and beauty and quiet and solitude, seemed appropriate. She would've probably preferred that everyone do that in lieu of a funeral. Still, it hurt to miss that. I opened one of her letters at random a day or two after our arrival in San Diego, when I was still very much missing Dresden and feeling a little lost in our new home. She was responding to a letter I had written in which I had apparently expressed my stress and exhaustion from work and college. She closed by saying, "Honey, stay happy and I will tell you what I used to tell my children when they would wake in the night and say, 'Mom, I'm scared.' Think of flowers, butterflies, and all lovely things. I don't know if it worked, but I kept telling them that!" Gosh, I miss her.
There were a lot of reasons leaving Dresden was hard for me, but among them was that Dresden was such a gorgeous place. I've loved every place I've lived, but Dresden was the first place I ever lived that was really, certifiably a beautiful city, and I got so I liked being surrounded by beauty. I was dreading returning to the land of endless parking lots and box stores and strip malls. There is that here, but there's also this:
What the canyon near our apartment looked like in February
We arrived in San Diego in early February. It should be noted that our road trip began in Idaho Falls with an outside temperature of 6 degrees below 0 in order to fully appreciate what we beheld as we neared our destination. The world was green and sunny. We saw crops growing in fields. People wearing shorts and sandals. Palm trees. Exotic flowers in full bloom. When we stumbled out of the truck at our new apartment after dark, the air was fresh and perfumed. The air was comfortably cool and moist. We felt as though we'd entered another dimension. Surely this place couldn't exist on the same plane of reality as the frigid, snow-entombed world we'd left two days before. In our two months here, we've learned that it does, in fact, rain here sometimes. It does get cool enough that you need a jacket. But for the most part, those things you hear about San Diego, about it basically being the Garden of Eden reincarnated — those things are true.
As if we weren't surrounded by enough natural beauty, San Diego, and in fact our little neighborhood, is also home to this:
The San Diego LDS Temple is a 15 minute walk from our front door. From the outside it's breathtaking. We nearly ran off the road when we passed it on the freeway for the first time. The inside is even more amazing. I think I gasped audibly when I stepped into the spire that contains a wide sweeping staircase. Sunlight poured through the towering glittering windows onto all the white and gold and I was briefly blinded by it. It was like dying. I can't believe more people don't join the LDS Church here just to get a peek at this place.
We've found some other cool places, too. Like the San Diego Natural History Museum:
"Wook at dat big doggie!" —Jethro
And the New Children's Museum:
And plenty of parks and playgrounds.
We're regularly the only English-speakers at this park, and the most prominent language isn't Spanish, it's Chinese.
Despite all San Diego has to offer, it was a tough adjustment for a while. It still is sometimes. As we expected and dreaded, our years in Dresden are beginning to feel more and more like a dream. I can feel my already rough German slipping away as Jethro plays "Straßenbahn" with his cars more and more seldom. Jake and I realized that when we're not surrounded by a foreign culture, everyday life seems to lack novelty and romance. We're not as observant of the world around us. I worried about starting a new blog because I wasn't sure what I'd talk about living in America. But it feels like home now. Last Saturday as we cruised through downtown with the windows rolled down and the ocean sparkling between the skyscrapers Jake and I acknowledged how much we like it here and how lucky we are to have landed here. But I expect we'll always be a little homesick for Dresden.