As I knew I would, I am falling behind on my writing. Here I am in Amsterdam, finally ready to talk about my last few days in Germany.
Frankfurt was lovely enough. I visited the old Goethe House. Took notes on what I did and didn’t want included in the future Freymiller House. (Do include a stuffed replica of Kitty. Do NOT include the letter I wrote about being kidnapped by a dragon.) But after the day of rest, I was off to Wiesbaden to witness the marriage of one of my favorite people in the whole world.
First, though, I had to get there.
It started off well enough, I took the correct train to the correct stop and perhaps had the correct ticket (who really knows about these things).
I got off the train and headed in the direction that I thought would lead to my AirBnB (using only the sun as my guide, I’m pretty cool).
This is when things went wrong. I was operating under the assumption (why is it never over the assumption), incorrect as it turns out, that Wiesbaden was a small town. So after twenty minutes walking down Biebrich Allee, I started to get nervous and to second guess myself. Which then lead me on a six hour walking tour of Wiesbaden and the surrounding countryside.
I ended up at one point walking down a dirt path in the middle of a vineyard, my only companion a large white horse who stared me down without pity. White horses never feel pity because they know they are distantly related to unicorns.
At that point I realized I must have taken a wrong turn and headed back 4km to where I had started. By nearly crying at a bartender, I was able to connect to WiFi and determine my location. Which eventually led me back to the aforementioned Biebrich Allee headed in the exact same direction I had started out on.
As I walked those many miles, though, I found myself filled with an unexpected emotion, which is to say, joy.
I crested the last hill after a morning and afternoon of walking and I could see down into the Rheinlands, and I felt lifted up and weightless. Sure my shoulders ached from the backpack strap and I had developed some fun blisters on my toes, but aching shoulders and toe blisters are a part of what makes joy so beautiful.
You do not find true joy where life is easy, happiness perhaps, contentment, pleasure. But joy, the feeling that your heart might burst, that comes with time, with healing, with aging. It comes with complexity and scars and the break in the gray storm clouds where light drops through.
I felt joy when I witnessed my friend get married. I knew what we had both gone through: I remembered all the struggles of high school, I had heard of her often difficult journey through West Point and beyond, I knew that the road had not always been easy. But there she was sitting next to the love of her life, signing a paper in a very German and very beautiful wedding ceremony, and there I was, able to celebrate with her.
Finding joy isn’t simple, it isn’t easy, it is often a surprise. I think now the best way to find it is just to be open to it when it arrives.
This trip has been so challenging, challenging to me emotionally as I finally have time to reflect, and challenging to me physically as I wander through the German countryside and cities, but it has also been one of the most joyful periods of my life. I am so proud of all that I have accomplished to be on this journey and so grateful for all the beauty I am experiencing.
I feel honored, too, to be sharing my journey with all of you. May you find joy in your lives as well.