On Tuesday my parents got to have the novel experience of being the ones to leave. Oliver packed them in the car, picked me up at work and we drove them to the airport and walked them to the gate, sending them through with admonishments to recline their seats this time, get a glass of wine or two before the plane and buy travel socks.
It felt a little bit like abandoning a puppy near a busy street. It was obvious they found it hard, perhaps because now they know exactly how far away I live, and that Germany is worlds away from California.
Up until this point they could have convinced themselves that I lived at the San Francisco airport luggage lockers, because that was where they’d always left me, the flying part was an abstract notion. But now they’d seen for everything for real.
Now they see my life is real and that I live here, and not just staying for a while.
They also know that I have great friends, a great neighborhood in a great city, great future in-laws and a really great guy to keep me company. They also thought my apartment was great and it was hard to actually show them how the others live because it was such a nice illusion.
But the apartment is ok and that’s great too. And we had a great visit, it was really great.
They were great sports while they were here. They had to cheerfully accept not knowing anything, making mistakes, basically being the dumb foreigner everyone is tolerant of and mildly amused by.
They started off with not knowing, and not asking, how to recline their airline seats and flying the whole nine plus hours sitting straight up. I took them home on the train and made them drag their luggage to the apartment and then dragged them straight back out again to have mulled wine and buy pizza. Standing out in the cold, drinking hot sweet wine, the reality of it all hit them and I watched their heads spin.
I remember that feeling when Oliver picked me up for the first time at the Munich airport.He drove me straight to Austria and straight into the bar on the mountainside and forced me to have shots of schnapps with some locals he knew, then he took me up to the apartment and went to get the bags. Two minutes later he came back to find me passed out cold on the bed. He had to undress me and tuck me in and I lay there like the dead for 11 hours. Total sensory overload.
Mom and Dad endured a similar fate, but with one day delay. They got there on Thursday and on Friday I picked them up, picked up Oliver on the way from a conference and all together we drove to Austria to introduce my parents to Oliver’s parents for the first time.
They did not have it easy. In one weekend they had to: ride at high speeds on the Autobahn, meet the parents, hike up an alp in heavy snow, drink schnapps and wine, have heavy meals of slabs of steak, walk down the alp by way of a ski slope, a wee bit drunk and dodging snow cats, try and fail to be on time for breakfast even once, eat soft-boiled eggs and bread for breakfast and all of this while dealing with jetlag.
And that was just the first weekend.
When they were preparing to come I told them to pack for cold and snow because you never can tell. Before I moved here, when I would visit Oliver for my birthday there would be snow on the ground up until the day I got there – when it would melt – and it would snow again right after I left. Being from California I always wanted snow, but never got it. I started calling myself La Nina, because you could bet on warm winds the moment I arrived.
Luckily they saw plenty of snow in Austria and a bit of snow in Munich because after they arrived the temperature rose above zero to one degree and stayed there. The snow rotted and melted, exactly as predicted.
Typical unpredictable Munich weather. It stayed non-freezing and dry for most of their stay, giving them few good excuses not to run around and see things. So today we dropped them off, exhausted and stuffed, and let them fly home to California.
Walking home from the train tonight, it started to snow, not a whole lot but it was a good sugar coating over everything. I got out my camera phone and took a picture. Snowing on Leaving Day, just as I predicted.