Tuesday, March 15, 2005

On Leaving

(A small explanation on our situation before I start: My siblings and I were all born and raised in DC, but both of my parents are Austrian. They have lived in the US for a long time, but always knew that some day they would return to Austria.)

Ever since I came to Vienna in October 2002, I have been living in a great student dorm. Dorms here are different than in the US because they are usually not affiliated with a specific university, anyone who is a college student can live there, which I think is great. This specific dorm had just been newly renovated, I have my own room and my own bathroom, free internet, satellite TV and, get this, once a week the cleaning ladies come and clean! That means 2+ years of never, ever scrubbing a toilet. So some might think I am crazy for moving out now. But after a while, you really start to long for your own place, a real kitchen, somewhere you can invite friends, cook dinners, eat breakfast in your pajamas. So I, along with three of my closest girlfriends, decided to move out. After a long and very nerve-wrecking search, we finally found the right place for us and, eventhough I can technically still stay in the dorm until March 31st, I will be moving out this week, since I am leaving for DC early Friday morning. Well, anyone who would walk into my room right now would never guess that I will not be here by the time the week is over. All the pictures are still up on the walls, no boxes have been packed, my closet is still stuffed with clothes. Somehow, I can't bear to pack it all up just yet. I want things to stay the way they are for as long as possible.
And here is the other reason: This will be the last time I will be going home to DC the way I know and love it. My entire family will be moving to Vienna this summer. Our lovely house will be sold (man, that is hard to type), the cars I learned how to drive in will not be ours anymore. While I am home, the movers will come and pack up all the things we want to take along. This means that within all of two weeks, I will say good-bye to the home I have known since basically forever and the new home I have made for myself during the last 2 years here in Vienna. I am telling you, this is not easy.
A part of me does not want to go home to DC right now at all because it means that I will have to leave again and never come back to the way things were. I do not want to have to see boxes being packed up, a For Sale sign out in the yard and, most of all, I am dreading the drive away from the house, towards the airport, that look back through the window, knowing that as it gets smaller and smaller in the distance, I will not ever come back to it. A part of me wishes that I could just skip this trip and return to DC once this is all over, once my family has settled here and it has all become normal. Then I could go back, visit friends, and just remember the house and our life there the way it was. But then again, there is no way I would ever give up those last two weeks at home.
However, I try to dwell on all of the good things that this huge change will bring. I am excited about coming back here, to my new apartment, going to IKEA, decorating, painting walls, having friends over for dinner. And I cannot tell you how much I am anticipating that, very soon, I will have my family around the corner. I can go home for dinner, stop by when everything else is stressing me out, have my youngest sister (Hi Laura!) stay at my place whenever she wants to. All four of us siblings will be able to go out together, something that would never be possible in the US because of all the (usually ridiculous) age restrictions. There will be no more birthdays or other celebrations that I will miss out on. My Mom and I feel like going to Rome for a weekend? No problem. I keep reminding myself that what matters most in life are the people that you care about. A house is just a house, it is a nice place to be and it will be an amazing part of my life to look back on. Things change, they have to, nobody wants to stand still, frozen in one spot for the rest of their life.
You need to enjoy the moment, accept the fact that at some point it will be over and then embrace the new.


Laura said...

Thanks Cathi, I'm sitting here bawling my eyes out. I don't want to move, I can't leave this house. I love it here too much. Most people can't wait to move out of the house they've lived in forever, but I don't want to.

Catharina said...

i'm sorry. i was a bit worried about how you would feel when you read this. just keep rereading the last few sentences i wrote. it will all be ok, you will love it here, too. love you so much.

larrykim said...

that is just too sweet... it reminds me of a scene from "little women"...

Rude Cactus said...

I can completely understand why you'd be reluctant to return. I hope, however, you have a great time here in DC :-)