Tuesday, April 06, 2004

ON the train between Frankfurt and Offenburg, traveling South.


After several
hours of being tortured by an extremely tired, excited son, I have been given a
few minute respite from being mama, with two small beings conked out on the
floor of a first class compartment.

My mother in law was so nervous this morning that I could hardly get ready.
The train was leaving at 12:24, and it takes approximately 25 minutes to get to
the station from Kornweg. Fifteen minutes on either side of that, and it seemed
to me that an hour would be more than enough time to have everything properly
prepared. At 9:45, when I said I would like to take a shower, her eyes became
wide and fearful. "You don't have time! " she said.

Of course I made the time for everything I needed to, including shlepping
kids' bikes and strollers and tricycles up to the attic, canceling my AOL
account (that free month was SO helpful!) and kissing goodbye the things I will
love and miss: all those photos, my books, diaries, bathtub, four burner stove.
I kissed goodbye my telephone, my answering machine. Goodbye nice clothes.
Goodbye big playroom and balcony. Goodbye, you comfy suburban German life, blue
acres here we come.

Outside on the street, our little 3 year old neighbor Alina stood cherub
cheeked, ready to wave us goodbye. She, like all the children in the
neighborhood, looked like she knew that street so well, that every little patch
of grass around her home was familiar territory. I thought about my daughter,
how used to moving she is, how she looked at Alina... did she remember her name?
Did they ever even get to play together? I doubt it. All the four years we've
spent part of her life visited Oma and Opa's house in Wellingsbuttel, Antonia
has not made a single close friend on that street. In europe it seems to take
ages to really have kids meet kids, or you need to have been a part of their
world for awhile.

"So," said Alina's father, Sunday morning rake in hand, "You're going back,
are you?"

Back? I thought about it. Where did he mean by back? I suppose we were going
back to the boat, but somehow it felt like going forward more than back.

Port Barcares, France

We’ve been aboard for three days now.

The kids are having a ball. This place would be perfect, if they had space at
the kindergarten where I wanted to put the kids. No room at the inn! What can I
do? Hire a babysitter for a few hours a day. Money, honey. And that doesn’t
solve the playing with the kids thing. There may still be a apace for Antonia at
the school here, but even that’s not for sure.

But the kids are thrilled to be aboard, I can tell. They finally seem to be
“at home.” Isn’t it strange, ironic and weird how much I wish we had family
around us : Oma and Opa, Gramma and Grampa, Aunties and Uncles… and they all
want to be around us, too… and yet here we are, far away from anyone we know,
haven’t met a soul around here yet (although the people seem friendly enough!).
What wouldn’t I do to just have a little something or someone for the kids… but
there I go again looking at the down side of things. The boat is getting better
and better. Right now Achim is installing two shelves for the big books taking
over the cabins… he began to install the CD player so we can have music… washing
machine and dishwasher are both kicking, I took my first hot shower on board for
our 12 year anniversary yesterday. There is always a ton of stuff to do and I
can’t just plant the kids in front of a video anymore… we only have 4 dvds!

Port Barcares is a feast of famine tourist spot, completely dead in the off
season and absolutely packed in the high season. And right now it’s extremely
windy, especially down at the port. I am SO happy to be in one place, though,
and not have to run around. The kids still just talk about taking a train,
plane, bus… for once we are staying somewhere for a little while!