Dispatches from Germany: The beginning

by Rebecca A. Watson on August 1, 2013

in change, control, Germany, moving, time, travel

“It says your pass is invalid,” the traffic cop at the toll bridge said matter-of-factly, as cars piled up behind us. We’re sitting in our Hyundai Sante Fe on the Bronx-Whitestone bridge on our way to JFK, our life piled high in the trunk and backseats.

“It’s a rental,” Sante says, clearly trying to control his anger at the situation, “and we don’t have any cash.”

Not only had we spent all our cash in preparation for moving out of the country, we just shipped our cell phones back to Sprint as well. We were flying old school, with printed directions: In Google we trust. Traffic had been a little heavy on our way in, so we were already a little behind schedule, but that was OK. We planned some room into our schedule.

“Pull over to the right over there.” the cop says in a very Brooklyn accent, motioning over several lanes of traffic to a small building. My chest and hamstrings tense. Pulling over, waiting, at the toll bridge would suck up the rest of our padded schedule. Suddenly things got tight.


I try to breathe. I pray to the Universe. We wait, and wait some more. This is when suddenly the mechanics of time make no sense (or plenty of sense if you read this). After what seemed like eternity, but was probably more like five minutes, we see the guy walking toward our car.

We don”t have to pay anything, but the car company would be getting a ticket. We just have to give them that when we drop off the car.

OK, we just have to fill up the tank at the gas station we’d gotten directions to beforehand and then head to the airport from there.  Good? Great?  Got it!

Except after we pull out of the gas station and make a few turns, it’s clear we have no idea where we are going. We seem to be in the utility entrance to the airport.

Both Sante and I are handling it pretty well, I gotta say. Niether of us snap at each other although you can tell our anxiety levels are sky-high. After making another turn that shed little light on our situation, we decide to go back and somehow run smack into our rental car place.

Originally the plan was for Sante to drop me off at the terminal with the scads of luggage (three checked bags, a bike, two carry-ons and two personal items) while he dropped off the car and took the shuttle and tram back over to meet me. But plans change.


“It’s a sign,” Sante says, reading my mind. So what if we have to haul all our luggage across the airport? We are on our way! He turns into the lot and pulls up to a young man with dark hair wearing a shirt and tie.

“Welcome back!” he says with a smile. (I shit you not. “Welcome.” Who says that?) “How did everything go with your rental?”

We were pretty happy with everything, we say, except the E-Z Pass shorting out on us on the bridge. His eyebrows crinkle. He seems genuinely concerned.

“Oh man, I’m sorry. Was that a huge inconvenience for you?”

“We were just more nervous about missing our flight, to be honest.”

“Well, I’m going to make this right. Hold on tight, OK?”

As we start unloading our luggage I got an idea in my head. Shouldn’t we ask him for a ride to the terminal? After checking the glove box and console, Sante walks over to me and says, “Do you think we should ask him to bring us to the terminal?”

“Yes,” I say emphatically. “That’s exactly what I was thinking.”

Our rental car host strolls back over to us after chatting with another customer and asks, “How can I make this up to you?’

Fast forward about ten minutes, and we are unloading every one of our bags right outside the Delta gate at terminal four. We wheel everything in, check most of it and give each other another high five. We did it and it was way easier than we thought.

high five

Pretty much our entire trip goes this way — more smoothly than we could imagine. We sit in exit rows with ungodly amounts of leg room. We have plenty of space for our luggage on the trains. We actually catch an earlier transfer, which allows us to eat doner kebobs (OMG) while we wait for our land lady.

I got to thinking about what I wrote last week, about bringing on the unscheduled events. About letting go of control and trusting in the process of life. Practicing that in our travels actually made things easier and more relaxing.

So now I’m trying to do that in my every day stuff here in Freiburg. Granted, every day you don’t get fingerprinted by the federal government or sign two-year contracts in German to get cell phones, but that’s my every day for right now. And so I’m welcoming the unexpected. Or at least trying to, because you never know what that “inconvenience” might get you later down the line.

P.S. I’m excited to say my writing has been featured on a new (for me) blog, Tiny Buddha! If you get a chance, please hop over and read my article, Four Ways to See Yourself and the World Differently.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

BST August 2, 2013 at 12:26 am

Good luck in Germany!

I’ve always wanted to move to Turkey 🙂 I thought it was funny when you mentioned the Doner Kebobs.

I saw on your about page that you are from Minnesota. Cool! So am I!


Ms. Becca August 2, 2013 at 2:15 am

Thanks for the well wishes 🙂 My sister actually lives in Istanbul and is super excited to check out the Turkish subculture here.

Rad that you are from MN! It’s a great place to grow up for sure. I miss the summers but definitely not the winters 😉


Christina August 11, 2013 at 6:32 am


wishing you guys all the best in Freiburg!
I’m a silent reader of yours from Stuttgart, Germany (near Freiburg 😉 ) and your thoughts and posts helped me so much while struggeling through a rough time dealing with depression !

Freiburg is an amazing laid-back city with lots of students and pubs 🙂

All the best


Ms. Becca August 11, 2013 at 11:49 am

Hi Christina! Thanks for your well wishes 🙂 Glad my posts have been helpful to you. Keep reading and commenting! I love to hear from you.


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