By Carolyn Hecken
Over the course of my life, I’ve moved fifteen times – sixteen, counting this move to Hamburg. It’s happened so frequently and with such regularity that I’ve grown accustomed to it. Until recently, I had never consciously taken the time to consider the effect it’s had and continues to have on me.
Like any significant change in life, it’s a process of moving between two worlds, isn’t it? It’s departing the comfortable, familiar world we’ve created for our family – for ourselves – only to enter an excitingly new and foreign one. And it’s a transition that I admittedly meet with a slight tinge of trepidation. Yes, even after all these years! Maybe, even moreso now than ever before.
I feel as though I have been living in a bubble. In fact, it feels more like two adjoined bubbles: one representing life in Munich, and the other, life in Hamburg. For now – for these few fleeting weeks – these two worlds have converged. Gently, and ever so lightly, they adhere to one another until they will eventually cleave, allowing the chasm that once separated them to be restored once again.
Emotionally, I’m in a constant state of oscillation, clumsily slipping back and forth between the two, knowing to which one I now belong, yet hesitant to fully embrace it. I struggle to reconcile my desire and longing to remain closely connected to friends in Munich with that of simply letting go and branching out, laying new roots and planting seeds of new friendships and connections.
And time? It steadily slips by. It’s not on my side. I feel like it never has been.
And me? I’ve done nothing but stay afloat, treading water until the tide slowly begins to ebb once more and I can regain footing on solid ground.
Somehow, we are living in the moment because there is no other alternative. We must. Yet, the here and now has never felt more distant. It seems almost as distant as the world going on out there – the one we’re looking out upon from within the bubble, acutely aware that life steadily carries on right outside our doorstep. There’s a disconnect. And, at the same time, we’re filled with a sense of curiosity and exhilaration. All that remains is to take that step across the threshold and reconnect to the outside world. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.
You probably already have an inkling of where I am going with this. For me, this experience of moving is wholly reminiscent of the transition from life as an expecting mother to a new facet of life that ensues as birth begins.
I can only articulate it as a period of stagnation amidst a torrent of change. We are so entirely and contentedly consumed with the intense happenings within our own four walls that life outside our doorstep simply continues to unfold, parallel to our own. And, upon finally re- emerging from a kind of ‘birth’ hibernation, we look upon the world with new eyes. We’ve changed. The world has changed. The only difference is that we’re conscious of our own transformation. The world, on the other hand, still sees us for whom were once were and not yet for whom we’ve become.
The chasm that has emerged over such a brief interlude grows ever clearer. It’s almost as if we must reintegrate ourselves into a time and space farther down along the timeline from whence we once diverged. Initially, we encounter a moment’s hesitation – to leave behind one life and embark upon a novel, unknown one. Yet we overcome it, fluidly or, perhaps, even falteringly. Nevertheless, we step back into the stream of life.
So, to my dear friends and colleagues in beautiful, bustling Munich: if you don’t hear from me for a while – it’s not that I’ve forgotten you, or that I don’t think about you. I do think about you and you will hear from me in the weeks to come. It’s just that we’re stepping over that threshold and are working to gradually expand the radius our comfort zones from day to day.
We’re out and about discovering our little neighborhood and adventuring out into our new world that is Hamburg. Be patient with us as we plunge back into the stream of life.
So, even though it pains me to say it, pfiat di Minga!
Moin Hamburg! We’re excited for the adventures that lie ahead.
Carolyn Hecken is a mother to four energetic, inquisitive children. She holds a BA in Linguistics (University of Washington) and a MA in European Linguistics (University of Freiburg). Since June 2013 she has been supporting mothers and their families as a certified D.A.M.E. Doula and, more recently, as an AFS peer-to-peer volunteer breastfeeding counsellor (January 2016) and HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator (June 2016).