Sneaky rain

It’s been raining for three days now. Along with the fact that it makes bike riding slightly less than enjoyable and necessitates  extra gear, it has also prompted this Arizona girl to put into words, just how rain (at least our current wintery rain) in Düsseldorf feels. I already mentioned that the rain in Arizona is different than in Düsseldorf. With Arizona rain you know what you’re dealing with – big fat drops that come (more or less) straight down and can be stopped by a trusty umbrella. The rain here, I’ve decided, is much sneakier. I’m not even sure it officially counts as precipitation, which I always thought had an element of falling to it. It’s more like a loose fog or a swirling mist of moist. You can’t protect yourself against it because the minute droplets defy gravity, sometimes seemingly coming from the bottom up. It’s like good old Düsseldorf is playing a game with you. Or maybe it’s that the sky is sympathizing with the trees, who have finally lost all their leaves and now stand naked in the park.

In any case, I am prepared for winter and whatever precipitation it chooses to throw my way – I already bought three new pairs of boots since we got here. I love boots! They keep your feet warm and dry and look oh-so-fabulous with skinny jeans or cashmere tights. And, I almost always keep a tank top close to my heart, literally. It’s like a piece of Arizona, just a few (onion) layers down.

PS for my sister – I love my delightfully colorful umbrella!

Home is

We just got back from a fabulous 10-day trip to Arizona! It felt so good to be there again, and, in a strange way, as though we had never left. My sister and I instantly tuned into the legendary hive mind. Conversations with friends seemed to pick up where they left off. Hip hop music, drinks, and ESPN still set the stage for a good mood. In one word, the trip was perfect.

That’s not always easy to accomplish when you have a list of people to see and things to do but a limited amount of time, yet somehow we managed to find the right balance. What do I remember best from the trip? The love of family and friends that were so happy to see us again. How good it felt to be around my sister and to see her flourishing on her own. Saguaros, rocks, and the smell of creosote. The warmth of the desert sun on my face. The feel of driving my old 4Runner. SomeBurros burritos and the smile on Toby’s face as he ate one. Even the rain (yes, ironically it did rain), which has a totally different quality than in Düsseldorf.

And then a funny thing happened (no, not on the way to the forum). I started calling Düsseldorf home. I don’t really understand why, but something about being in Arizona helped me get there. Maybe it had to do with the realization that leaving a place doesn’t have to mean you’re gone. Or that it’s the people that make a place home. Or that I was living out of a suitcase.

In any case, Toby and I are back in our apartment. Although we already woke up to snow once (it was washed away by the rain), it’s nice to be in Düsseldorf again. It’s slowly becoming home.

I guess home really is where you hang your hat (and soon, hopefully, a few new lamps and pictures).

Hot magic

Some of you will be surprised to hear this, but I actually skipped an opportunity to go to the gym last night. My excuse – it was raining snow. I don’t know what the official term is, but for a few minutes in the middle of a crazy rain storm yesterday afternoon, there was white stuff falling out of the very dark sky. I said to myself, no way am I going out in that. Rain? Ok. Snow rain? No way. I have my limits, people.

Fine. I guess it’s time to face the cold, hard, inevitable reality of winter. Noooo (she says, kicking and screaming on the floor)!

The one good thing about the onset of winter is that with it comes Christmas, and with that comes a whole bunch of fun stuff. The store windows are filled with Christmas decorations. Although I must happily say that either I’m going to the wrong places, or Christmas music is not as prevalent here because I haven’t been annoyed once yet by a Mariah Carey Christmas song. We have an advent calendar from Toby’s mom hanging in the apartment that provides a daily dose of chocolate. I’ve been busy gathering the perfect Christmas presents. And Toby and I are making sure to enjoy the local Christmas markets.

German Christmas markets are famous the world over. Along with stands selling Nutella crêpes, Dutch french fries, and Christmas tree ornaments is the beloved Glühwein – probably the best reason to visit a Christmas market.

Glühwein is the German’s answer to a cold winter evening. I don’t actually know who invented the stuff, but it’s pretty awesome. It’s essentially just spiced red wine served hot, but it has magical powers, I tell you. It brings the people out in droves, despite the cold. Even I don’t mind a nippy walk to sink myself into the warm mass of fellow Glühwein drinkers. There really is no better way to spend a cold pre-Christmas evening – with friends and good conversation over a steaming mug (or two) of Glühwein.