Three months. Three beautiful, calming, compunction free months. This is how long I went without traveling, and in these three months I felt at ease. Before the Coronavirus hit, if I had any amount of time off and I didn’t travel somewhere I felt like I was wasting my time off. Even when I started to slow down, I would still have some lingering guilt if I didn’t want to travel somewhere.
First world problems, I know.
My last official trip was to Romania, and I returned to Germany on March 13. One week later the hotel I work for closed to the public, and I spent three months biking my heart out all around Bavaria. I would have never had the time, energy, or thought to do as much biking as I did had I not been “forced” to stay put.
On June 12, exactly three months after my trip to Romania, the opportunity presented itself and I took a weekend trip to the Black Forest with two amazing friends. This trip was last minute, and when I discovered I had the same weekend off as a good pal (Galiya) and her boyfriend (Austin), I accepted a gracious invite to tag along with them.
This was a perfect way to ease back into traveling.
My ideal trip is somewhere I can drive to. Having a car brings a sense of control that is impossible to find with a train or bus. This isn’t always possible, but living in Europe makes this a little bit easier. It’s amazing how quickly a train ride, a plane ride, or BOTH can exhaust me. The three of us rented a car, making this trip effortless from the start.
Galiya and I both worked until noon on the Friday we left, giving us plenty of time to drive to the first city we wanted to explore – Freiburg im Breisgau, or Freiburg for less of a mouthful. Freiburg is in the Black Forest, and I have driven through parts of Freiburg twice prior to this trip, but I had never stopped to smell the roses.
Freiburg is a college town, and this small city is one of the most culturally diverse cities I have seen in all of Germany. We arrived in enough time to spend a few hours wandering the streets and seeing the center of the city. We ended our day with some ice cream for Galiya, a milkshake for Austin, and a moment of pure, unfiltered happiness for me.
I no longer want to travel just to travel, and these smaller weekend trips are becoming more of my desired getaway. My first year living in Europe everything was new and exciting, but like all things after time the shiny new toy feeling wears off. Don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE to spend more time traveling, but I don’t want to rush anymore.
If I can’t travel “right” I would rather soak up the city I live in on my bike or in the mountains. I have enjoyed all of my travels, but the ones I remember most and look back on with longing were usually weekend getaways. It’s amazing what a forced change can do for your perception. I suddenly feel content staying right where I am in Germany.
Prior to this trip I had been feeling lonely. These feelings come in waves for me, and while I confidently preach about feelings of depression or anxiety, something about the word “lonely” has a shameful attachment for me and I feel weak. Feeling depressed is a common feeling for humans, especially in the world we live in, but depression is something I can manage alone.
Insert loneliness and suddenly I need other people, and that’s something I really struggle to navigate.
I pride myself in my independence, and feeling lonely doesn’t make me any less independent, but it reminds me how important and essential human connections are. It’s ok to need and want to spend time with others, and just because I have a hard time finding people on my wavelength doesn’t mean I can sit by idly expecting people to fall into my lap.
Ironically, I had been praying a lot the week before this trip for more meaningful friendships. My prayers were answered almost immediately, and Galiya and Austin were two people I knew I enjoyed on the surface level, but I had no idea I would grow to enjoy them on a personal and spiritual level during a short weekend getaway.
I discovered they are both Christians, and while this is never a requirement for my friendships by any means, I find when my faith is shared with others the friendships tend to grow deeper, faster. Conversations become effortless, my walls of anxiety around my food issues break down, and I feel accepted exactly as I am.
My soul cup was filled to the brim after our evening in Freiburg, and this was only our first day together. People often say they knew their spouse was the one right away, and I am beginning to believe it simply based off of how I feel when I am with people and immediately click with them. It doesn’t happen often for me, so when it does it’s monumental.
Freiburg is an eclectic city, surrounded by beauty, but if I think of this city in the future I won’t think about the tree covered hills, the canals lined with bikes, or the circle of salsa dancers, I will think of the mysterious and powerful way God works in bringing people together at just the right time. Traveling with others is more about the company than the destination.
I don’t want to live in my protected bubble of isolation anymore, I want to be vulnerable and open. I want to show my raw, broken soul to the world, and only those who want the best for me will move closer to the chaos that is my humanity. I am thankful for people like Galiya and Austin who unknowingly help me continue to heal my past relational traumas.
The proceeding days away were just as lovely, and have set the bar very high for any trips I commit to in the next few months.
Q: Have you had any heartwarming, unexpected experiences lately?