- My parents, wherever they are, feel like home. Having them around me makes me feel complete. On this visit, I didn't feel like a little girl, but an adult sharing my life with them. Maybe that comes from not going 'home' to my childhood home, but it felt good to be with them as the woman I am. However, being closed up in their arms was like a little piece of heaven and I am so thankful to have them in my life.
- American teenagers are a different breed. We went to eat at Taco Bell one night and the kids hanging out spilled into the parking lot and the restaurant, their clothing in shambles, and their rudeness extreme. There needs to be someplace these kids can go, other than a rundown aprking lot in some hooker town.
- I discovered a side of my husband that I don't like. He can be very selfish and arrogant, and I was embarrassed when each of my family members asked me if he was okay. His attitude put a definite damper on my happiness being encircled by family. I have learned that Erwin in a crowd of Americans (maybe just after jetlag, but I'm not sure about that) is not the place to be with him if I want to smile and laugh. I need to learn not to let his attitude affect me so much, but allow myself the comfort I feel being surrounded by family. He needs to learn that I accept our life in Europe and he could be more accepting of my needs when in America.
- I discovered that when Erwin and I are alone together, we make a very happy, content couple. We talked and laughed and touched and smiled. It was something we really needed to regain some passion in our marriage, and I think that our trip accomplished this. Being alone forces us to acknowledge the things we love about each other. I have much to love in my husband. And I am grateful for him in my life.
- I realize how much European culture has become a part of me. I missed the ease of life I have here, as well as the after dinner coffee.
- I like warmth. The sunny, blue skies did wonders for my spirit. The deep blue made me sing with happiness.
- I love the adrenaline rush of the city, but it gets on my nerves very quickly. The crowds of people and the noise start making me crazy after a very short time. All I need to feel replensihed is a day out in nature. Where we were in nature didn't matter, but it gave me a sense of peace and a disbelief in just how big the world is. Mountains, desert, rocks, sand, trees, cactus, animals...all of that is the true me.
- No matter how long I have been apart from family, when we gather together it feels like the comfort of home. Having my family members close, being able to share jokes at the spur of a moment without thinking about how to say it, having history with these people, and being surrounded by love is something I truly treasure.
- I am frugal. I was astonished by the high prices of food and goods in the American stores. I couldn't bring myself to buy some things because the cost was too high. I also realized how little I need in the way of American products. I used to have bags full of foods and supplies when I returned home from Europe, but this time it was mostly just a few treats and not really things I 'needed'. It felt good to know my life in Europe has become routine and normal and complete without American supplies. I feel as if for the first time I am completely integrated, and can enjoy those little treats from 'home' when I am there, without needing them to exist here.
- Weddings in Vegas are big business. My primary goal on this trip was to see my friend get married. I did. I also witnessed 7 other marriages in an hour. A quick (yes very quick...they get you in and out) Vegas wedding can be anything. Tammy and Richard married in a pink Cadillac with Elvis singing to them, dressed in 50's garb. It was cute. But I missed a bit of the romance and reality of what a wedding is. I guess I enjoyed the variety, but feel the specialness of the event was stripped away. It wasn't what I would have wanted for myself, but it got them married and they were happy, so who am I to judge?
- Nascar doesn't rock my boat. It was fun to see something new and I enjoyed the excitement of all the die-hard fans, but I wouldn't want to do it often. I love car races. But I like other races much more than Nascar!
- I was disappointed in the patriotism of Americans during the presentation of the flag and the American Anthem during the hockey game. There were rude comments being shouted and few people placed their hand over their heart. I was touched by this event. Tears streamed down my face as I felt the deep love for my country and what it all means: land of the free, home of the brave...In America with the flag shining. I am glad this is something I value.
- My kids are just fine when I am away, but they miss their mama. My in-laws took good care of Jari and our home, and my friends took good care of Kaeden in my absence. However, Jari wouldn't leave my side upon my return, and he was happy I was home. It feels good to be needed. Oma said that's what she realized being in my home. That she was needed, and it felt good. That's what being a mother and wife and homemaker is all about, and that is my job. I am glad I do my job well.
- I had a mini-breakdown when it was time to leave America. I was cranky and upset and didn't know why, but as I drank my morning coffee in a little coffe shop, tears spilled down my cheeks and I started to sob. I truly miss my homeland, and it hurts to say goodbye. Somehow, I am more free to be myself when I am in America. As much as Europe has become my home, nothing can ever replace the American girl that makes up who I am. I was born an American, and I am proud to be an American.
There is so much more I learned on this trip. However, I can't put it all into words. These are just a few of the points I recognized. I am glad to be back in my home, where I will cook a real meal tonight in my own kitchen and fold my laundry fresh from my dryer. It was nice to wake up to a sunny morning and go out and feed my animals. I am home. And home is where you hang your hat. Home is what you make of it. I am caught between two homes, but I fit well into both. I realize that I adjust well. I am thankful I am who I am. I am thankful I have two places I can hang my hat and feel that comfortable feeling of home.
And I am glad I have this