In my last post, I mentioned I was about to do some traveling. Well, I'm back now, got back last week from an amazing 2 weeks of traveling around Germany. I'm exhausted, still a little jetlagged, and sick with the probably inevitable airplane cold I picked up on the way home, but it was wonderful and I'm excited to tell you about it. Since I'm an author and this is my blog for my readers, I'll relate some of the experience to my writing, but mainly this is an excuse to get my journaling about the trip done, tell some fun stories, and show you some of my pictures :-D
To start with, let's go back 100 years or more. My father's father was born in Germany, in an area that later became part of East Germany. He and his parents emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1920s, but most of their relatives remained behind in Germany.
Fast forward some 50 years. My father had the opportunity to spend a year in Germany as a visiting professor, in the early 70s and then again in the late 70s. So growing up, I had the amazing experience of living in Germany twice for a year, as a child and then as a teenager.
Since then, my parents have returned a number of times to work, sightsee, and visit friends and relatives. I hadn't been back; between one thing and another, mainly health issues and anxiety issues related to travel, I figured I would probably never go back. Then last year, my parents turned 80 and decided it was time to keep a promise they'd made to my youngest brother and take us kids back to Germany, along with our spouses. (Yes, my parents are amazing that way. I wish I had their energy. A few months before this trip, they went on a cruise to South America and Antarctica.)
When my parents told me and my husband about the plan, I was excited but also terrified. I'd been afraid of flying for 40 years. I could get on an airplane if I really had to, but I would be sick with fear and have nightmares for weeks before. --> Writing note: when I write a character who has to do something hard and terrifying and they do it anyway, this is part of where that comes from.
But I really wanted to go on this trip, and I wanted to look forward to it instead of dreading it, so I set about dealing with my fears through a variety of methods - spiritual, behavioral-cognitive, educating myself about flying, getting myself accustomed to the idea of flying. One thing that really helped was on YouTube there are lots of videos posted by people who travel a lot, who take videos out the airplane window as the plane is taking off and landing. I watched a ton of these for exposure therapy. The fear didn't completely go away, but I managed to reduce it quite a lot, to the point where I could manage it.
And I did it. I, along with my husband, got on an airplane and flew to Dallas, then got on a really big airplane in Dallas and flew to Frankfurt. My parents and my sister and her husband (B&M) were already there, and my youngest brother and his wife (R&C) arrived just as we did, and meeting them there was just amazing. The coolest family reunion ever. We collected the luggage and the rental cars and set off for Mainz, where my other brother and his wife (J&Y), who had come the night before from Australia, would meet us.
In Mainz, we went right to the center of town, where the cathedral is, and met J&Y there. My husband and I were starving, so we found an outdoors table at one of the restaurants surrounding the square and ordered schnitzel for lunch. In my mind, this was one of the consummate German experiences I remembered the best, eating at one of the tables that spill out from the restaurants and cafes onto the plazas. And it was as awesome as I remembered.
Once we weren't starving any more, we went to take a look at the cathedral. I loved the medieval cathedrals the previous times we were in Germany, even to the point of educating myself about the different architectural styles and features, and when I stepped inside I was struck just as strongly as before by the enormous size, and the grandeur and majesty and age, of the cathedral. It was one of those moments when reality and what I remembered/hoped for matched up perfectly. It took my breath away and left me awestruck, and it was just as great to see my husband having the same reaction. --> Writing note: the Shrine in Sarya's Song is modeled after the Romanesque cathedrals of Mainz and Worms.
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