One of the frustrating things about living in Germany was not having my things. When I came back from Sweden last year, I spent months getting rid of old clothes, books, toys, school notes, anything I didn’t really miss while I was gone or have fond memories of. I lost count of the number of trips to Goodwill we made with all the stuff I got rid of. So it’s safe to say the things that I kept were for a good reason.
Well, we don’t have a home in Germany. We have the top floor of a very old house that is fully furnished for the occasional coffee-drinking afternoon in the upstairs dining room, and the once-or-twice-monthly visits from my aunt and yearly visits by my Mom and me. My Mom and I made it our own as much as we could when our furniture finally arrived from Canada by moving the old beds out and putting our own in, as well as our dressers and some items to decorate. But still, most of our things are being stored at a neighbour’s, and while this is certainly more convenient than having to travel to a city to go to a storage room, it’s still not ideal for when I suddenly have the whim to do something like do a puzzle or read an old diary or build an old Lego set.
My Mom and I essentially just moved into my Oma’s routine. She likes to cook lunch every day, the same food she has been eating for years without trying anything new. She doesn’t make grocery lists until she’s about to leave, she likes to stock up on non-perishable food because it’s what she’s used to, and at the end of the day she watches TV loud enough for me to hear it in the room above. I don’t want to interrupt her life because even though it’s not the lifestyle for me, it’s a routine she’s gotten used to. Thankfully she doesn’t go upstairs often so she misses the occasional carnage when we bring over boxes of clothes, but my Mom and I have already had to change a few things in my Oma’s house and I still don’t feel like we really live there.
That’s the dilemma I find myself in today. I haven’t felt like I’ve had a home since our house sold in Canada. When I was living in Sweden and would go to class or visit friends in other countries, I always called the neighbourhood I was living in “home”. I loved my time there and could really picture myself staying for a longer time. At the same time I knew there was a home waiting for me in Canada.
This is the feeling I hoped I would have once I moved out and got a job: that I could always visit my Mom in her own house in Germany, but I would have a nice apartment to call my own and decorate how I want. Sadly, none of that has come to fruition so far. I am wandering about Europe without a home.
The last few days I’ve been contemplating going back to Germany instead of staying in London. It’s giving up fast, and a part of me still wants to chase the dream. But the rest of me is scared, with not much reassurance that things will get better if I stay here. Even if I find the perfect room, how long will I be able to afford it after paying a massive deposit up-front? I just got an email today from a big company with a store on Oxford Street where I applied for temporary work during Christmas. I have almost six years retail experience, over four with apparel, and I couldn’t even get an interview in a busy shop that could probably very much use the help during the busy season. I’ve had optimism since I started applying for jobs almost a year ago that the next one would always be the right one. But it never was. Why should that be any different when I’m here? I used the excuse that having a London address would hopefully get me an interview when I apply for a full-time marketing position, but apparently it can’t even get me one for a part-time retail job. Nothing on my résumé has changed. So is it really worth it to pay to live on my own in an expensive place when I could go back to the safety of Germany? Am I really going to be less miserable here if I barely make enough to live, let alone enjoy the things London has to offer?
Maybe I am too young and poor to live here right now. Maybe London will call for me again some other time. In any case, I am just a short, cheap flight with Ryanair away, and when I visit I won’t have to bring the 25 kg bag with me.
I am not the kind of person to like to admit that I failed. Being rejected from so many jobs really damaged my self-esteem, and it would be rejuvenating to succeed at something big right now. But sometimes people fail before something better comes along.
If I go back to Germany, I am not looking forward to the sympathetic comments and the inevitable mentions that I just couldn’t stay away from the small town. Maybe I’m just meant to experience the small-town life for a while and see where it takes me. I can move to London anytime I want to, but how often am I going to get the opportunity to spend this much time with my family in small-town Germany?