The universe is a funny thing. It leads us in directions we are not quite ready fore most of the time.
That for me, came again this summer in the form of a visa denial. I did not get approved for visa I applied for to live in Europe with my German boyfriend, whom I affectionately call H in this blog. Because of European/US travel laws, it meant I only had 90 days I could legally stay in Europe. Upon using that time up, I had to leave for 90 days in order to ‘refresh’ my Passport and be allowed back into the Schengen area (90 days in, 90 days out).
I spent hours and hours and more hours in research, paperwork and more research to learn how to stay in the Schengen area at the beginning of the year. All to be denied and forced to leave my boyfriend I had worked so hard to join (he had to finish up his last year of university in Europe), and add more time to our already ridiculous amount of time apart during the long-distance portion of our relationship. Such is life with an American and German in love; a situation so many people must deal with in long distance relationships that are separated by foreign boarders.
I was forced to decide where to go and how to feel about it. I decided pretty quickly it made the most sense for me to return back to the States, and live with my family in Minnesota for the summer. I had been in Denver the past ten years (and in those ten years two of them spent in South Korea for grad school). This was a really special thing I had been offered, to spend the whole summer in Minnesota with my family, something I hadn’t done since I was a kid.
I had the option to look at leaving behind my boyfriend and Europe (!) for the summer as a negative and depressing situation. In the beginning months of the new year I worked really hard on completely closing out my US life to jump fully into this new one (everything I owned in storage – save two suitcases, goodbyes to all friends and family, purchasing an ‘across the pond’ plane ticket, and faith-leaping into a whole new world of friends and experiences).
I cried when I first found out the news. It was depressing to sleep next to H that night, knowing we would sleep alone the next 90 days, after already experiencing so much long distance in our relationship already.
But I didn’t stay in that place. That place of ‘this is not fair.’ I became excited the next morning as H and I sipped coffee (me in my grandma chair perched at the large window in our reading area, he in his office at the kitchen table, separated by all of five feet) as I discussed the prospect of seeing friends and family for a whole summer, more than just the ‘hi, bye’ of limited vacation time from my job in Denver. And honestly, summer in Minnesota is so incredibly special. The lakes, the perfect temperature, the smell of pine. I will always be a Minnesota girl at heart.
That is what I chose to focus on. I will never get this time back – this time in the US with my two grandmas, time with my mom and dad, time with my brother, and time with the friends I have so desperately wanted more moments with. I was given the blessing of ‘more time,’ if only I chose to see it that way.
And that is what I received in the amazing moments with my family and friends in Minnesota (and a few added bonuses as well):
1. Mother/Daughter Road Trip to 11 states over 16 days in June.
2. Countless amazing meals and laughs (and perhaps a glass of wine or two) with my maternal grandmother, in her home where I spent a couple of years growing up as a preschooler.
3. The opportunity to make dinner for my dad and mom, and to make delicious ‘farm to table meals’ from our garden.
4. Rekindle a childhood friendship with a best friend from middle school (we had only lived in the same city for that one year at 14!). Turns out we’re soul sisters (not to mention our birthdays are only one day apart).
5. Offer my presence to assist my paternal grandma and dad as we moved her into assisted living care during her sudden decline in health.
6. A jillion other connections with old Minnesota friends I had lost touch with or been in under-connection with.
7. The time to attend and help plan my 10 year high school reunion.
8. New moments in a space that formed me as a child and adolescent: Lake Superior, Park Point, Duluth, Proctor, and the Twin Cities. Countless little alcoves, walks in the woods, runs along the shoreline, afternoons sipping beer in inner-tubes on ‘the lake,’ nights warmed by outdoor fires, and moments under the bright blanket of stars that covers ‘the Northland.’
9. The freedom to visit new places like Seattle, the Oregon coast, drive through a real Redwood tree in California, attend Pride in San Francisco, and Zion National Park, where I had never been. As well as amazing places I didn’t think I would see again for a very long time like Denver to gather my storage, Montana to see my maternal step-grandma, and the California coast.
10. The opportunity to view something surprising, frustrating and negative as something that is magical, amazing and meant to be.
It takes work every day to not fall into a ‘poor me place,’ when I miss H or our little studio in Europe, but that workout my brain gets listening to my heart and to what the universe has in store for me is priceless. I would not change this for anything now.
Paz y luz,
What is something the Universe would like you to see differently? Any small ways you could look at it differently?