When I was 21, I did what every sane 21 year old does: quit their steady job and move to a new city in a new state to start from scratch. Totally normal.
Also normal, and something I recommend no one do is believe the only way to leave a company that loves you is to say you’re moving to another state…take out a loan for $2,000 to pay for the move…move without any job prospects…and rent a room from a complete stranger *who happens to be a heavy smoker that owns a constantly puking cat.
That was my favorite.
I chuckle now thinking that a company would actually be heartbroken to have me quit. I’m great to work with and all, but to think they’d only accept me leaving by saying I was moving is pure craziness.
But, it got me out of my comfort zone, and threw me into adulthood. I might not have been ready per se, but who is? When I moved from Las Vegas, NV to Los Angeles, CA, I did everything possible to make it work. I worked two jobs, barely making ends meet, and learned what it meant to be a grownup.
I could tell countless stories of roommates stealing my mail, food, and toiletries; playing extras in tv shows, and watching film crews out the window while I worked, and maybe I’ll share those one day, but it was in one of those jobs fourteen years ago, I never thought would connect me to Germany today.
I got a job at a physical therapy office that catered to those in the movie industry. Most days it was fairly slow in the office, so my coworker, who was from Germany, and I had a lot of time on our hands.
She took to teaching me German while I took to helping her with her English. It was a perfect match.
Unfortunately (or fortunately in my case) I could only tolerate Los Angeles for eight months (that city, I’m tellin’ ya!) and ended up moving away; but that time was enough to forge a lifelong friendship. We stayed in touch, and I oddly remembered all the German she taught me, which sure came in handy when we upped and moved to Germany in 2016.
I never thought though, that I’d ever get the chance to meet her mom, her Mutti, who lived all the way in Eastern Germany. She talked about her a lot and was always someone I wished I could meet.
Mutti lived through WWII as her dad fought for the Germans. He got captured by the Americans, shipped to the states, and worked for two years running a cotton farm. After the war ended he got sent back to Germany where he learned he had four kids, not three (his wife was unknowingly pregnant when he left for the war!), and got back to farming like before.
Crazy story, isn’t it?!
Now, 14 years later, I’m living in Germany and my friend (who is now an American citizen still living in Los Angeles) is visiting her Mutti. We planned it all out and I hopped on a train – several, actually – and seven hours later, was in a little village outside Leipzig!
It was my first time in Eastern Germany, so I was excited to see just how different it was from the West. Her Mutti (and Tanta..her aunt) ended up being as delightful as I imagined, and though communication was rough with them only speaking German and me very little, we still managed to have a sweet connection.
What I found most interesting was their house. A 300 year old farm house fitted with a 300 year old toilet! A toilet that was still being used up to 25 years ago!! Apparently the house was the first in the village to have an “indoor toilet”. I can only imagine how excited everyone was.
Can you imagine using this every day for your toilet??!
The tiny entrance into my room.
I slept in that little bed in this little room. It was cozy with a sweet view of horses grazing in the field across the road.
There were only short people apparently 300 years ago. I had to duck every time I walked in with the ceiling only 2 inches from my head!
Sweet flowers on the 300 year old staircase. I think I like this idea!
Everything about the house and the village was like being transported in time. People still drove old DDR cars. Wifi and cell service are still fairly non-existent. And tractors still dominated the roadways.
My friend walked me around and showed where she lived when the Berlin wall was up. Sharing stories of 3in. thick ice on her bedroom walls, no heat, once-a-week baths (poor Mutti being the third and last in line for the same bath water), sharing one toilet for the whole apt. complex outside on the balcony, and tasting Nutella for the first time once the wall came down.
Stories I can’t even imagine experiencing.
It was a lot of fun to see everything through her eyes, and despite being constantly covered in bugs that were floating in the air – I’m not a bug person – it was a trip I’ll not soon forget.
I never imagined making that rather irrational decision to move to Los Angeles at 21 would lead to a trip in Germany where I would stay in a 300 year old farm house and sleep on an 80 year old bed in a tiny little spare room, but it did.
It goes to show that sometimes, irrational decisions lead to the best adventures.