At 62, I decided to unretire for the third time and tackle a teaching job in Heidelberg, Germany, and that challenge nearly overwhelmed me. I started every day with a To Do List that never ever got completely done. I do not jest when I say I have hundreds of pages of paperwork filled in, filed, and filed away.
Everything has been more complicated than back home. In Oklahoma, if I want a new iPhone, i can have one in 15 minutes. In Heidelberg, I couldn't get a telephone until I had a German-accepted bank account which I couldn't get until I had an official DoDEA ID which I couldn't get until I was in the database which I could be until the principal's secretary filled in the proper forms.
So, complain, complain, complain...no joy here.
And then I had a pulmonary embolism (clot) in the lungs which knocked me down and could have killed me. My doctor says that 26% of all sudden deaths are pulmonary embolisms.
More, "Why me? What did I do to deserve this?"
Three days after the initial incident, I decided to try and enjoy Heidelberg -- nothing To Do, nowhere to go, no one to account to but me. I got on a bus and just kept riding through Heidelberg, getting off when something caught my eye, downing coffee with cream here, chugging gassy water there. I wandered through the farmer's market, tasted my first ever Walnuss brot (walnut bread) and fell in love with roasted chestnuts along the Neckar.
As my streetcar headed back to the Hauptbahnhof, I felt at peace for the first time in days. If, and I don't want it to be a true IF, but if I had died that Wednesday, it would have been a good time to die. Then and there.
I grab a butter pretzel with watercress at Yorma's, walk outside into the failing autumn sun and I am exhilarated by the sudden joy I feel. I am alive