When you know exactly how, the story that you are so fond of telling yourself, would turn out to be in the end, what would you do?
You can either choose to respond to your awareness of the truth or leave it to chance.
You can just go with the flow, accept whatever comes your way because that is the best you thought you could ever have, while you also keep reaffirming the fact that “whatever happens, happens for the good”, if not great. You start warming up to the belief – that one day in retrospect when you connect these dots, it’s certain, that however undesirable the end may seem to be today, it would all make sense then.
So, you continue to have a conflicted mind and heart, all the way till the very end, before you are forced to accept the truth – you did not prepare yourself well, for.
You can choose to take things in your stride – start thinking much in advance about the consequences of not thinking in the present. (You) Put all your resources at work – (You) Strategize in every direction visible and possible – (You) Work harder to make things happen.
And then, things do happen. The story that you were so fond of telling yourself, doesn’t end as yet, only because you chose not to leave anything on chance.
Sounds like magic, isn’t it?
Well, the reality wasn’t half as exciting as it may sound in the words above, but this is exactly how events turned out – one after the other in this period of our life which we very fondly call as the – ” Period of the Morphosis” – which forced us, literally, to develop and extend parts of us in different (all) directions. 🙂 ( pun intended)
And as you read along, you would also realize, how I did nothing, but took a leap of faith – closed my eyes and rode over the tidal wave, quite certain of the fact that the currents underneath weren’t as dangerous as they seemed to be, and that I would be either carried back safe to the shore or taken along on fascinating adventures.
So, where did it all begin?
We always had known that we were in Europe for a short period, though quite indefinite in nature. At the end of every 6 months, our stay would get extended by another 6, and the story would continue, barring the last time, when for the first time, we were told that we may have to pack our bags and head back to India in about less than a couple of months.
And that’s where it all began – The most unforgettable tale of these incredibly overwhelming three months of our lives, where the only thing that was constant was ‘change’ – unanticipated, undesired, unwelcomed and unfathomable, yet, remarkably humbling in equal measures.
May 2019: The Survival
After multiple interview rejections owing to reasons absolutely unknown( always reminding me of my rejections when I was looking for jobs here 2 years back), Sandee finally managed to switch over to a job on contract( leaving the firm which had sent him to Germany from India in 2016), which needed him to work remote for 4 hours a day with remuneration less than half of what he was drawing otherwise.
Also Read: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!
Our collective wish to hang around in Europe, for some more time, was way bigger than the southward movement of the total earnings of the family, that we have been witnessing since we started to make such choices – of living a life that was more meaningful to us instead of the ‘others’.
So we took the plunge, yet again. This meant losing out on an array of comforts that our stay at The Apartment Hotel had bestowed us with – Moving out of a company-paid accommodation to moving into a self-paid apartment was not only financially draining but also mentally exhausting. (House hunt in the city of Konstanz is a harrowing process – It can take anything between 3-6 months to find something that can fit the budget or the need).
A couple of weeks had passed and we were still glued to our respective screens, scrolling down indefinitely, tapping and zooming in and out of the images of various houses, talking to owners in different localities irrespective of its distance from Mayra’s school ( that she would have joined from November’19).
Finally, the one we found and liked, was ready to be moved in, but to our surprise, only from the 1st of July.
What about June? 🙁
Was there a possibility that an entire month could just vanish from our lives rather than looming over us like an endless cloud of uncertainties?
There wasn’t any place available in an Air BnB at a reasonable rate for an entire month on such short notice. We had to leave the city for sure.
But where would we go?
We were so unprepared for this, I must say. We even considered going back to India for a month. But it just wasn’t really fitting into our budget.
Stress. Anxiety. Restlessness. Helplessness. We wore them all up, on our sleeves at some point. It was imperative for us to keep our cool and take it one day at a time, one step at a time.
What really came to our rescue was our commitment to self-care.
Amidst all the chaos, when we were striving hard to keep the continuity of our life here, we also held on tight to our respective passions, which also helped us immensely to deal with the situation in hand in a far objective way – Sandee continued with his training for Half Ironman( which eventually he had to let go off somewhere post 2 months, losing out on 75% of the registration cost) and I on the other hand, quite clueless as to figure out my role to reduce the overall stress, took my refuge in reading endlessly – completed 8 incredible books by the end of the month, which I had never done until then.
June 2019: The Epiphany
Obviously, as you would have guessed, we had no place to stay from the first day of this month. But if we had to believe that the universe was slowly conspiring to offer us a month which would be positively eventful, we would have so. Out of nowhere, we got to travel to Basel( in Switzerland) for Sandee’s new job for few days in the first week, at the end of which, we had to decide on our way forward – which meant looking for cheaper accommodation to spend the rest of the month anywhere, any city in Europe – it didn’t seem to matter as long as we had a place to spend our nights.
It really at times, is just a matter of perspective.
We started to look forward to each day, with more excitement, because we had no idea, where would we head next. And as scary as it may sound, it was way too thrilling as well. We were now, all up to make it as on hell of an adventure. After all, how often would we get opportunities like this one?
With no luck of finding cheaper accommodations around, we considered renting out a camper van which was also a dream for us – family nomads. This opportunity did fit that dream of ours just right. But hell, 25 days in a van with our little one, with no prior experience, that too during peak European summer, seemed way too challenging. And so we dropped the idea.
Instead, to partially experience that dream, we just went ahead and booked a car for 16 days from Strasbourg ( in France, 1.5 hours from Basel), because that came cheap and with lesser documentation. Having done that, we still had no idea, what we do with the car for a fortnight or so. 🙂
What do you exactly do, in situations like these?
You tend to rake up all your unpleasant memories of the past – when your social media feed was flooded with pictures of exotic locations – that your friends were traveling to, and all that you could do in vengeance was – at best watch a movie in a multiplex chewing on a bucket full of popcorn. ( Just for laughs :))
So, we started getting in touch with all our friends who either lived in Europe or have been to this part of the world to understand what we should be doing next.
Recommendations started flowing in, but who could act on the situation better than us. So taking their suggestions into consideration we drove towards the south of France and then began the most memorable 17-day road trip of our lives – covering the French Riviera (South Eastern Coast of France) and South Western Coast of Italy, driving through close to 5 cities and 15 picturesque villages. Phew!
Meanwhile, the house owner at Konstanz was generous enough to give us the house 5 days prior to the start of the next month, on request.
Also Read: A ‘ Not-So-Good’ Day
July 2019: Was it The Beginning or The End?
We moved into this big 2BHK Apartment at a prime location in Konstanz. Everything that defined our life in that city, changed overnight. We were overwhelmed with the surpluses that were at our disposal – Surplus space in general just everywhere – separate living and bedroom, an individual room for Mayra, big Kitchen and a dining hall, and the best of all – a balcony with just greenery to savor on.
Also Read: Apartment Hotel: Home away from home
To make things even more attractive – we were empowered with all the machines that could magically finish all the work – vacuum cleaner, a dishwasher, a washing machine, which we never had at the Hotel. We spent all those heat borne June summer afternoons staying indoors – reading, doing activities, playing, cooking, savoring our favorite dishes, and walking up to the lake or the children’s park in the evening.
The world at the outside may have changed but nothing had moved on the inside. We still held on quite unintentionally to our minimalist way of life. We had unpacked the bare minimum. Though we now lived in a bigger space it remained absolutely uncluttered. It took us about a week to stock up the fridge. In fact, had to try harder to not keep it empty. Lol. And also despite having our individual favorite little corners in the house, we would stick to each other at all times because we had completely unlearnt the normal way of life in a house otherwise ( the fact that we could be in separate rooms :))
Everything that may look like gold may not truly be
The days started to settle in. Having Sandee around all the time was just so wonderful and everything seemed so perfect. It felt like we have to be here forever now. Life was so good. In fact great. We couldn’t be going anywhere else. It was a dream. But, if there was something that wasn’t right, it was him. He wasn’t feeling good about the kind of work that he was doing and wasn’t comfortable with the uncertainty of the project which could have lasted for just a couple of months or more.
He always knew he had to do something about it.
And I. Somehow, I didn’t want anything to change, again.
Then one fine day
One of the many companies he had spoken to a couple of months back, where he wasn’t even called for an interview, invited him over to their office location, after a round of detailed interview online. And that was it. He got the job – A German contract. And was expected to join asap.
What did asap mean for us? – Just pick up our already packed bags and move to a different city?
What about Konstanz, where we had a strange sense of belongingness that we never had anywhere else?
What about this house, we had moved in about 10 days back and we had started to love every bit of it?
What about the school, that Mayra has already got admission to?
What about me desperately waiting for a few hours to myself when she goes to school?
What about everything that has become a part of us only by the virtue of staying in this beautiful city?
Do we just abruptly cut every possible chord and put it behind us like it never mattered to us anyway?
Sandee was always aware of his choices and that’s why I think he wasn’t as affected as I was. For a very long time, I didn’t know whether I was happy or sad. It was a mixed feeling – Happy for the fact that we could finally look forward to a certain life with a steady job and a certainty of staying in Europe for a longer period. But sad that there is yet another change that’s happening to our lives and this time even quicker than it was anticipated.
With every passing day that added up to the day when we had to actually move out, I started to feel better. I accepted my emotions that emerged from the uncertainty of a certain life. And at the end of the week that followed, I knew that this was the best thing that could have happened to us.
I didn’t see it as ‘the end of a great life’, instead ‘the beginning of a greater one’.
Every story or experience has so much to learn from, and this is what we have collectively learned from what conspired in these three months-
Staying uninhibitedly detached from everything that we loved in our life helped us take quick decisions and move on without any regrets.
Was all of it, destiny? Maybe. But the efforts can never be underestimated. Leaving everything on fate and chance would give us sleepless nights while doing the opposite always gave us the confidence in moving in the desired direction.
Keeping our respective passions alive in all circumstances did come to our rescue.
And most important of all, we were nomads and we would love to be so.
Despite having a job – that requires one of us to be physically present at work for 5 days a week, a home that now we pay rent for as opposed to our idea of not growing roots anywhere, the minimal furniture that we had to purchase for a comfortable life, the school that Mayra has eventually joined in here, would always need to be missed, whenever we hit the road.
We have moved to a different geographical space, but the way we had traveled within, in those 22 months of our nomadic life, is a change that can’t be undone – it’s a change that has given birth to a life that’s transcendental.
Note – This blog was written in July 2019. And we moved to Leverkusen ( near Cologne in North Germany ) in August 2019.
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