Some of the best times of my life, some of my most sacred memories, were born in Germany. And some of the best friends in my life, made.
I recall Thanksgivings gathered 'round my giant table filled with flowers and delicious food cooked with love by Germans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Croatians. Soldiers, civilians, children, my gay hairdresser and his boyfriend.
I remember Christmases gathering at Elvia's house spending hours making tamales with friends... Pot loads! We talked and laughed, spooned & folded. The taste of that first batch freshly steamed was something straight out of Mexican heaven.
New Years, celebrating with Martin and Evelyn on the old bridge in Kitzingen, drinking champagne and dodging firecrackers, and calling our parents and friends back home, six hours ahead, to wish them good tidings.
German street fests and church basement parties. Hispanic heritage functions on base and touring the Würzburger Hofbrau Brewery with USA DENTAC on the taxpayer's dime.
I remember Isabel's first birthday party... our flat was filled to capacity with people from around the world, every shade of the human spectrum, a symphony of languages... Everyone eating, drinking, and being merry simply because a little girl's birthday was a fine excuse to come together just be happy.
Indeed, some of the best times of my life.
This past week, Elvia's daughter Nicki graduated from high school. I drove up to Virginia. Another friend, once a single soldier in Germany many a year ago, drove out from Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Another couple, also from our Germany days, drove down from New Jersey. And still others, from Washington, DC. A few fellow graduates came over after graduation... The house was filled with people, each from distinctly different lives, backgrounds, cultures, ages, races, and professions -- rich with love and laughter.
I had not seen some of these dear people in nearly 12 years.
Two folding tables were erected in the living room for a celebratory spaghetti dinner and a good time was had by all... making memories.
And for a moment, I felt like I was home again...
But home, after all, is where the heart is.
"Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserve; it is life's undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room."
...Harriet Beecher Stowe