The past eight days were incredible. I can't really comprehend that the trip took a specific amount of time, though, or that now I'm in Freiburg but yesterday I was in Belgium and once upon a time seven weeks ago my best friends were more than words on a screen (and occasional goofy Photo Booth pictures). This is the first real trip I've planned (with Maraia, natürlich), and it's almost as long as my trip to Munich was back in February. It was a vacation—between the half-vacation of taking German class in Europe and the beginning of the semester on Monday. But in some ways it was hard to think of it as a break from the ordinary and not just the next ordinary phase of my precarious European existence.
Having Freiburg as home base is hard to grasp. It's home, at least in the context of Europe, and I was content to be coming home to my computer and a foreign language that I understand. But I wasn't impatient like I usually am. Once a trip is over and we're heading back, usually all I want is to be home. Part of it is that plane rides and car rides and especially driving yourself are tedious and quickly uncomfortable. Train rides, on the other hand, are comfortable and still contain some novelty for me.
The bigger reason is that I didn't feel any need to go 'home.' Hanging out in bars or the hostel at night or on trains and in train stations leaves a lot of time for conversation. I spent 14.5 hours traveling yesterday, and our group talked talked talked. As we sat on our seventh and final train of the journey, waiting for it to leave the station, we started to talk about which physical possessions would hurt the most to lose, and ended up talking about what made home for us and where we would try to make our homes in the future.
Some people's home is in a specific location, with the people who belong there. Some people are used to moving and are connected to the people, not the place. I lived in the same house for over twelve years, although I count freshman year of college in that. That year, I'm not sure I knew where home was. But since then, home has been in Ann Arbor with my friends, in East Quad and then our house.
Ginny, Jeff, and Andrew met the rest of us in Bruges. Ginny and Andrew both said that they felt more at home in Bruges with us than they had in the Netherlands with old friends or actually in Freiburg but without us. Today I realized that was the reason I didn't look forward to returning to Freiburg. The important part of Freiburg was with me, and closer on the trip than when we're in our dorms, spread around the city. All that I wanted from home was my computer, and my connection with the world outside of Germany.
I guess by the time we were off the last train and waiting for the S-Bahn to take us home, I was looking forward to my bed as well. And now it's 3 am in Germany and I miss my bed. Distance is tricky—it's only four feet away but it feels impossibly far.