Visitors from the East Coast
People come into our lives; they stay or they go after a while.
It’s sad when they go and you realize that holding on just doesn’t make sense anymore, as time has passed you by and things are just not the same anymore. I am one of those people that is having a hard time dealing with eventually ‘having to cut people out of my life’, because it’s ‘healthier’. On a happier note, there’s also people that stay in your life for years and years - and maybe even forever.
It’s a relationship you have formed with them that is special, that reminds you of the great times you’ve had back then, that shows you, that with some people, it has simply clicked - years ago - and as you grow older, live your life separately from each other, you still maintain in touch across borders and when you then see each other, you know you yourself have become a different person in many respects, however, it seems as if you’re picking up right at that point where you last said goodbye. These are the people that matter.
Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, April 27, ‘16
When I was 16, I made a big step, with encouragement from my parents, to go on my biggest adventure at that point: spending 6 months overseas, in Central New York. This adventure should soon spur my interest in this country, the people their (different) way(s) of life.
I first set foot on American ground on January 8, 2008. It was cold. After having spent three days of orientation in the city that never sleeps (oh my gosh, what was I getting myself into? - I have to laugh at my former me now), together with other exchange students, we all flew off into different directions three days later.
I’ll keep the story short, but just as much: I was placed in a welcoming host family in Groton, NY, where I stayed for about another three days (I can’t remember exactly), before my local coordinator, who was responsible for me in case of questions etc., had to find me another family. Now, you might be asking why. Well, as lucky as I was - and I literally consider myself lucky in this respect -, the high school withdrew its offer of hosting an exchange student from German. Apparently they remembered that they’ve had a not so pleasant experience with someone from that country. Wonderful. Thanks to that person who ruined the overall image people there have/had of my home country.
But like I said, in retrospective, it seemed like things were meant to be. Before I knew it, my local coordinator (damn, I can’t remember her name) helped me put my two stuffed suitcases in the car and gave me a ride to what should soon become a loving second home - rural area of Baldwinsville (or as they say: B’ville).
Sunset Cliffs Park
Kathy and Bob made me ultimately feel like home. I also had a host brother and sister, and technically two other host brothers that were, however, not living in the house. The presence of three wonderful golden retrievers also added to a ‘this is a second home’ feeling.
I had a great 6 months in Central New York, of course, with ups and downs, adventures, misadventures and changing relationships both in the U.S. and Germany (why, hello, I guess this is the overall topic of this blog post). Nonetheless, this place has, ever since, been special to me. Bob and Kathy very much helped me have an amazing first time in the U.S. (not least Alex and my dear Aly who I’ve only grown closer with throughout the years), which was definitely the reason why I got so hooked on this country.
8 years , three visits to B’ville, several emails and post cards later, I myself returned to the U.S.; this time for 18 months, to the ‘other’ coast.
The last time I saw these two was in late summer of 2012. It was about time for a reunion! And as it was meant to be - again -, they both had planned to travel to Nevada for a week this April. Things fell into place really quickly and before I knew it, they had booked their flights to San Diego, for one night, to visit me.
I was stupid excited. Not just because of the fact that I hadn’t seen them for a few years, but also because I was now the one in charge of showing them around. Well, we had 24 hours. They only flew out here for one night, but this is why I appreciate them making the way to San Diego from Las Vegas even more.
I left work early that day and headed to the airport. There we were: picking up at where we last said goodbye. What a great feeling this was. As if nothing had changed (well, obviously a lot had changed in our lives but you get the point, I believe).
So, what to do in 24 hours that also allows a lot of chatting and catching up?
Bob had told me he wanted to be ‘somewhere around the Pacific’. That was fairly easy, because I instantly had two places in mind: Sunset Cliffs, not far from my house, as well as La Jolla Cove, where Annelie had taken me during my first few weeks here in SD.
I took the two of them to Sunset Cliffs after they had dropped off their bags at the hotel. We soaked in the sun, walked around, enjoyed the view from the cliffs, and I wallowed in memories of old times.
I was more than grateful to have them here.
For dinner, we went to Pizza Nova in Point Loma, with a nice view on the harbor. The day flew by.
The next morning, Bob and Kathy picked me up and we went up to La Jolla. I like La Jolla Cove in particular as you get to see sea lions. Unfortunately, the sun decided to not show up; instead, it drizzled.
That’s funny (and a little unfortunate), because everyone expects San Diego to be sunny and hot all year round. It’s not. In fact, the temperatures are very pleasant, specifically close to the ocean. And it does rain, apparently.
We made the most of it (we didn’t melt) and were amazed by how close the sea lions allowed us to get. They were all piled up, still sleeping and not really caring about the handful of people watching them. Only two of them were annoying themselves by growling (do sea lions growl?) at each other.
There were also a few brave swimmers going for a morning dive. That would be one hell of a challenge for me.
We took our time, walked around, chatted and soaked in the peaceful morning atmosphere.
It cleared up around late morning, when we headed over to Coronado for a stroll along the promenade and around the famous Hotel Del Coronado.
A little after noon, I got dropped off at work and we had to say our goodbyes. 24 hours are definitely not enough, ever, if you haven’t seen people that matter in more than 3 years.
Nonetheless, I am so grateful these two took the time and money to make their way over to the West Coast for a quick visit. I hope to be able to fly to the East Coast by the end of this year. It sure is different, but Central New York, B’ville, Bob and Kathy’s house, will forever be special to me, and be a place I will feel at ease.
Therefore, I hope they will always matter in my life, more or less always be a part of it.
Until the next - hopefully a little more time then - reunion.