In Germany, the rooster crows a whole lot more than three times. He's been going all morning, since the sun first shimmied through our curtain and I laid curled up on our son's makeshift bed (he was in mine, obviously). We sleep with our balcony door all the way open for fresh air, for thunder, for views of lazy tree-covered hills. The heat of the day makes room for the coolness of the night and there's just no reason not to let it all wash over us for a few days.
In Germany, we spent our first evening on this balcony. The kids wrecked from the 4am wake up call, they missed the lightning and the storm. I was just about to lay my own weary body down when Matt called excitedly from the other end of the suite: come here! The sky was quiet but perking up with flashes of light, and we grabbed two chairs, our duvet and a box of oreos. It was date night in Germany, and we watched the thunder roll in.
In Germany, the days are long. We're up early, dressing our kids and ourselves early, put together and at breakfast way too early. The trade off is a full day of kids club for our crew while we're in meetings, seminars and hunting down long lost friends or re-meet the new ones over and over. We skip a session here or there, for some alone time, for a coke, for a secret chat tucked into a Bavarian bar corner. I'm skipping one right now, for a quiet room, a rainy view, for the first words I've written in weeks.
In Germany, we hold a surprise rendezvous with a family from our early days. An evening in Germany may be as close as we ever get, a half a world away from Kansas. We raised sons together, lost babies together, felt the call overseas together and now live in different continents of the world together. It's been half a decade since we said goodbye, our daughters don't remember each other (though they were born healthy, victoriously, three months apart), but we fell in quickly and remembered why we loved them in the first place. We are sojourning soulmates; I must remember this, even when I feel I'm standing much too still.
In Germany, we take our kids to the water park way too late at night. We don't take many holidays so we want them to have some fun, to remember the broken rules and the happy, hungry exhaustion. We try to teach Ash how to swim, blow bubbles with his nose, force him down a water slide. His scaredy-cat-act lasts only a few moments before he shows off for new friends from Greece. Jack is off down the slides for his yearly reunion with boys living in Romania, Ella doing back flips and belly flops in the shallow end. For an instant I think about missing our dingy old apartment, it's hot summer months, and it's one saving grace of an outdoor pool. But the whimsy is fleeting. I'd rather be here.
In Germany we don't sleep all that well, but we eat extremely well. I wonder if smorgasbord is a German word (google tells me it's not). We work a bit, play a bit, commune with colleagues more than a bit. We are tired, but full, filled, in most every sense of the word.
I'm sure it's not always like this - I know it will not always be like this - but for five days a year, I'll take it, while the rooster still crows four hours after dawn.