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On Thursday, my brother and I are flying to Europe for two weeks. I’m entrenched in the details, currently: making lists, checking off items I’ve packed and tasks I’ve completed, and remembering other things I forgot about. This is the way I am before trips. I’m not flurried (yet).  I might reach that state before the hour of departure. So far, I’m feeling peaceful about the state of packing and the preparation process. As long as the clouds of ash stay away on the days of our flights, we will be fine.

In the midst of preparing to go, packing, spending time with friends, and feeling on a weird non-schedule of summer “break” (although I will not be enjoying a traditional “break” this summer), I experience occasional twinges of excitement. At those moments, it becomes real. I’m going back. I’m really going back to Europe. Even though I’m not going to Germany, the thought still gives me the inward warmth: the nostalgic feeling that I am going home.

Home is an elusive idea. For me, it’s associated with places I’ve loved and people I’ve loved. In Germany, I loved the places and the people. If I’d loved one and not the other, perhaps I wouldn’t feel an emotional connection to Europe two years later. But I did, and I do. Hearing spoken German makes me feel homey and happy, although I understand only snippets of it. Seeing the 220V plugs, buying European chocolate at the grocery store, and walking on cobblestone streets will have the same effects.

Although I love Europe, and it was my home from 2006-2008, I return in 2010 as a visitor. My home is here, and I love this place and the people in my life. When I think back to 2008 and my transition to life in the States, I shake my head because I’ve been smacked with blessings. Mostly the blessings of people; people in my life that I care about. A community. I’m grateful for the chance to return to Europe, my other home, but I’m even more grateful for the place and the people I’ll return to when our trip concludes and we fly away…home.


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