I miss the house in Germany. Before I forget, I want to write it down. I miss the flies that filled every corner of the windows during the summer, buzzing and disturbing reading during the day and sleep during the night. I miss the flowers that bloomed haphazardly in planned chaos. I miss the currant bushes with red and white and black fruits to pick straight from the vine. I miss the owl in the attic and the cool floor tiles underfoot even in the heat of the day. I miss the feeling of possibly being home.
The artwork on the walls came from Africa, including a national treasure from Ethiopia. The cats had free run of the house, including one neurotic cat, one wild cat, and one perfect cat. She would roll over and stretch out so I could rub her belly. She knew she was the queen.
I miss the eggs left out on the counter and not refrigerated, the food fresh from farms that I knew was not contaminated, the water flowing freely and unaltered from the pipes. I miss the sounds of pheasants outside and the utter silence and darkness at night, the creak of wooden doors when moving from bedroom to bathroom.
I miss the welcoming air of the place, where I knew I was a guest but a welcome one, a perhaps. I miss the home-cooked food made just for us, the mother who made it, and the afternoon teas with sweets and conversation. I even miss the swimming hole where I was afraid of sinking below the surface and drowning in the sixty feet of dark water with no lifeguard, crowned by floating lilypads.
I miss the North Sea and the old ship that took us up the Oste River there, the seals lying out on the banks, the freighters in the water. I miss eating dinner on a boat moored in a town whose name I forget already, serving fish from the area and tiny pink shrimp called Seekrabben. I miss sitting out on lawn chairs during summer, watching dusk at 10 p.m. and waiting for the bats to swirl. I miss the smell of clean ocean air and the zoo with the wolves and the only hill in a hundred miles, crunching wood chips underneath our feet on the trail during the winter, with snow on the sides of the path between the trees.
I miss the moors in the dim light of winter, the trees and roads and mist. I miss the ice and snow and the Christmas tree and the chill of the house in such contrast to the summer heat. I miss the hot gluehwein and even the process of starting the car and the helpful neighbor who came miles to tow the car back when it broke down. I even miss the panic I felt when they lit the candles on the tree and calmly declined my suggestion of putting a water bucket nearby. I don’t miss the freezing shower in the morning during winter or the bees that sent me indoors during summer, but no place can have it all.
There is a place in my mind for the house in Germany. Perhaps I miss the idea of it most of all, a half-formed thing that never took shape and flew.