I’M going home. Literally.
Earlier this year I booked a ticket to Germany for a quick vacation in December. It’ll be my first time to fly home to Germany in over 20 years. I feel old.
I bet there are many of us who have not been home for many years—and I’m sure you can relate to that yearning of home. I wonder how home looks like now?
We moved to the Philippines when I was still a tiny little egg, just about nine or eight years old. I was the (little) German girl in class—stereotypical accented English, zero Filipino speaking skills, and with just a tiny capability of speaking Cebuano. It’s been decades since I set foot into Germany.
My father wanted us to move back to Germany a few years back. It was something I wasn’t too keen on doing. My whole life was in the Philippines and my grasp of the language is that of a nine-year-old, so working and studying in German would seem too much of a challenge.
When my father passed, I knew that I had to visit Germany at some point. It was one of his last wishes—to see home again. I decided on December (“Why are you going in winter? IT’S TERRIBLE!”) since Christmas is one of my favorite holidays in Germany. My father and I loved the Christmas markets, and we would spend a lot of time there (he’d get a little tipsy on hot mulled wine, and I’d get a sugar rush on spiced sweets).
If you have never literally taken trips down memory lane, you should do so. They’re fun to do. This upcoming trip will definitely be one. I’ve taken memory trips every so often. When I travel, I like to revisit some places I visited in the past and relive the memories.
The day before my family and l left Germany 20 or so years ago, I got bundled up and took a long walk around my neighborhood. I visited the usual bakery where I’d buy croissants (lol, what a fancy eight-year-old I was), walked around the cemetery, visited the gasoline station (for the usual candy fix), and spent a long time at the neighborhood playground.
It was approaching winter when we left Germany. While walking up to the playground, I found a dead bird along the sidewalk. I remember picking it up, placing it in my winter hat and rushing to the playground. The dead bird needed to be taken care of—it felt like my last mission in Germany.
The playground was empty. No neighborhood kids were fighting over the swings and seesaws. It felt like a good moment to be alone, one last time in my old neighborhood.
I buried the bird under the shiny playground slide. It was one of my favorite play areas—either I’d slide down or I’d sit and hide underneath the slide. It was a good place to allow the little bird to rest.
That moment felt like a fitting end to my life in Germany. It ended. But as I think about it now, perhaps those final memories left more to it. When you bury something into the ground, something beautiful grows from it as well.
I’ll visit the playground again soon.