It’s so strange to think that I leave Berlin on Friday. It’s strange that just a few months ago, I never even knew this little German family existed, and I now I know so much about them. How they only eat Nutella on the weekends (though this rule gets broken a lot) how Star Wars is mentioned at least 10 times a day, how white wine often accompanies dinner, how lazy Sunday mornings are spent eating fresh bread from the market and listening to classical music while the birds chirp outside.
In a way, living with a family with young kids as been strangely like watching a movie of my childhood. I’ve always wanted to do that: re-watch those happy, carefree days days and figure out just exactly how all the specials memories were made…I think it would make me feel sad, and wistful and happy all at once. What a sad movie it would be; to watch yourself when you were so innocent and young and blissfully unaware, and then to see yourself somehow manage to lose a bit of that along the way.
It’s just that…I see Philipp clutching Snophie and Bopple and Nou-Nou, and I know that one day these beloved stuffed animals will be tossed aside – maybe even packed up in a box and stored in the attic. I see the boys’ hot chocolate mugs – with their names engraved on the side – and I know that one day, they’ll not want to use them anymore. To think that Julius’ special Star Wars cards will one day just be a reminder of the good ol’ days. One day, he’ll be cleaning out his desk and rediscover it, blow away the dust that has collected, and laugh at how silly he was for thinking they were the most important things in the world. That one day, Philipp will stop bouncing into the room. One day, they’ll stop jumping onto their parent’s laps and fighting for their attention. And that yes, there will even come a day when the little rhymes and games they know so well will become faded memories that they will have to ask each other for help to remember.
I wish I could tell them to enjoy it and appreciate it and make every second of it count because one day, they’ll wake up and wish they could get it all back. I wish I could tell Philipp to shower Snophie with kisses now because one day, there will be problems that even Snophie can’t fix. One day, they won’t be able to crawl into their parents’ bed when they can’t sleep. One day, everything will be different.
One day, I’ll see them again and they will be different. They’ll be taller and bigger and older. Maybe I’ll never see them again, except in photos. And maybe one day the photos will stop too. I wonder if the boys will remember me or if I’ll simply be a face in the photo albums they point at and ask “who’s that?”
‘Growing up’ and forgetting might be one of the saddest things in the world, I think. As I look back on my life now – at everything that has happened to me, at everything that I’ve done, and everything that I’m still going to do, I’ve realized something: I’ll go on living, and seeing the world, and having adventures, and somewhere in a big white house in Berlin, two little boys will have the biggest adventure of them all – the adventure of growing up.