Helloooo California!! I finally have adequate sun exposure and my skin has become a nice golden brown over these few weeks back in sunny California. My energy has increased, I’ve reconnected with oodles of dear friends, and I am starting to feel like my best self, again.
Our stuff has all arrived, our house is (mostly) unpacked, my son is enrolled in a sufficient, albeit EXPENSIVE preschool (nothing will ever compare to the German Kindergartens), and I will thankfully be going back to work at my old company in about a week. My husband’s car is still on the boat, but should arrive any day now and almost everything arrived safely from Germany except for our TV and three broken bottles of my favorite Pinotage. Not too shabby, I call this move a success.
I arrived alone in San Diego with the kiddo and not to sugar coat anything, it was rough. We were jet lagged, off our routine, and living out of a hotel room with a toddler isn’t a skill I’ve mastered alone, yet. We soon got on a rhythm just in time to move into our new, completely bare house. We made do with some loaner camping gear and toys from friends, used recycled yogurt cups as bowls and cups, and slept on the floor in squeaky, sweaty air mattresses. We spent about two weeks in this situation and my son never let a day go by without talking about how much he missed his “orange house” and let’s not forget his train table…he sure wouldn’t let me.
My little trooper has gone through a lot of changes over the last couple months and now that our routine has mostly been established, he is thriving in his new environment. We have been fortunate to find a home in a very walkable area similar to where we lived in Germany, only we don’t need to slap on three layers and boots before we leave the house. We can walk and bike to restaurants, playgrounds, green space, and the water to look for crabs, ground squirrels, and chase away seagulls. It’s pretty fantastic. Except for the price tag.
Oh San Diego is amazing, I don’t need to brag on it, but the price that comes with it is much higher than I remember four years ago. Prices have gone up on everything from houses to a pint. My husband finally joined us last week from his month away and we decided to take a night out to enjoy it at Liberty Station in Point Loma. It’s is a revamped old Naval training facility now home to some fantastic breweries, restaurants, a hipster market, art galleries, movie theater, a huge playground, picnic areas (alcohol is allowed!), and so much more. We really enjoyed looking at all of the creative menus, funky drinks, and the festive atmosphere here, but when we went to get a drink…holy hell, we ain’t in Europe anymore. Our $2-$3 beers and $3-$5 glasses of wine have been replaced with $6-$12 glasses of craft beer and $9-$18 glasses of wine. Needless to say, we didn’t drink that much alcohol out on our date, but water? Oh yea, the free water was flowing like Niagara Falls.
Family parks such as Sea World, the Zoo, Legoland, etc…are priced insanely high. I never looked at those prices too much before, knowing they were expensive and not having kids it wasn’t something I did that often. Now that I have my son and have been raising him in Germany where most entrances to parks are about $20 (and free for him!), sticker shock was a big thing when I started to sort out things to do. That being said, if you’re a resident, or if you know how to shop around, there are a lot of affordable and free, fun things to do. I’ll write about that in my San Diego with kids post I plan to do later this week. I’ve learned a lot in these few weeks!
The language transition has been something I’ve struggled with. I know a decent amount of Spanish, but I’m not fluent by any means. Learning it did come more naturally to me than German did, so it was sort of easy to get back into it. Sort of. I find myself mixing my German and Spanish like I did when we visited Spain into a lovely language I’ve coined “Sperman”…I don’t think that will break soon. I had an incident the other day when discussing downed eucalyptus trees with some city workers. San Diego has been hit with a lot of storms this season due to an atmospheric river (yea, that’s a thing! Science is cool!) and the trees most prone to the wind damage are the non-native eucalyptus trees that so gorgeously decorate our city. A huge one had cracked and fallen on the bike trail we have been frequenting so I asked the workers cutting it up if I could have a log or two. We joked in Spanish a bit and they said they’d charge me $100 per log, I joked back “Ja, pero, tango keine dinero! Tengo ein Lacheln! Ha! What I meant to say, was “Yea, but I don’t have any money. I have a smile!” They laughed, but I don’t think they knew what I was saying. I didn’t realize how badly I butchered that until I was halfway home carrying a heavy eucalyptus log that I still don’t know what I’m going to do with.
My son has joined up with a German group for kids and he meets up to take a class three hours a day, one day a week. We are also meeting with a tutor next week who has a daughter about his age and is a German native. I hope that at least these two days a week and continuing to watch occasional German shows and DVDs at home will help him keep up the language. However, Spanish is such a wonderful (and practical) language, here. It would be so beneficial for him to speak both, but I’m not sure how to manage that, yet.
I am still “German” in the sense that I shop with cash and give exact change (which has produced some really odd looks from my fellow Americans), scramble to pick up bottles to sort for pfand (which does not exist in the same way as in DE), and keep my head down and my small talk short. “Hi, how are you?” Do you really want to know? As we finalize our transition here and make ourselves more at home, I find myself researching where to visit next. I have a feeling Mexico is on the horizon…but, well, you know. I’m ashamed of what is happening with our country and with the dividedness that is being amplified. Welcome home. I have to take the good, the bad, and the unknown with a grain of salt and hope for the best. Stuff is happening over here, that’s for sure.