Peaceful Travels in Germany

 

Peaceful Travels in Germany

Maria Posada says, “I belong to no one.” I say, “I belong to no one place.” Traveling the world is my aim and each time I globe-trot my heart thumps with a sense of joy and freedom that no woe could ever touch. I am twenty-four, and chapter twenty-five of my book will begin as I leave the U.S. soil to spend a romantic weekend with my truelove exploring the glaciers of Iceland, and then to visit the very place where I discovered the true version of myself nearly five years ago (then rediscovered myself two years later while on a three-month backpacking adventure), a place that tugs the strings of my very being, a matchless little land called Germany.

Unexpectedly, at the age of sixteen, I was thrown into independence after I sole-survived a speedboat accident that killed my whole family. Five passengers—a happy family that never ceased to encourage me to follow my own path—but only one survivor: Me. As you can imagine, I was quite lost throughout the years following the boating accident. I was a teen trying to discover my true self and my proper place in this chaotic world while having to start a new life without the support of family. I had to embrace my emancipation and learn to adapt emotionally and financially.

I have lost the most that life could ever take from me. After a storm as thick as my mine, there is nothing left but light. My survival has opened my eyes to the horrors of this world, but also to the gift of its beauty—the realization of life’s fragility, how quickly, in a snap, life can be yanked from within you, taken without any hint or sudden warning.

Amid my storm I found clarity, and latched onto it before it could wash away. What brought forth my clarity? A tiny idea—a silly one, really, that I could somehow gather bits of family history and find a way to contact my very distant German relatives—people I knew existed, but had never imagined having the chance to actually meet.

Maybe it was the gloomy halls of my grieving heart leading me to wander toward a sense of family, toward my roots, to the country my ancestors roamed long before my book of life began, or maybe it was the result of my newfound independence that gave me the courage to do something most people dream of, yet never take action and do; I contacted my distant relatives, worked two jobs while attending college to save up every penny I could, and on my twentieth birthday, I took my very first international flight, alone, to Germany where I spent thirty days roaming the precious streets and traveling by train each weekend to visit my “new” family in the wunderschön old town of Heidelberg.

When I think of my deceased family, I imagine approval lighting up their smiling faces, my mother, sister, and brothers shooing me earnestly, saying, “Go, Jennifer. Live your life. Follow your heart. Build your own path,” and I smile. I smile and I tell them, “I will. I will carry on.” And when I travel, I take more than just their memory with me. So far, I have spread their ashes in Germany’s neck of the Rhine River, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and in the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean. Their ashes will carry on up an undetermined path just as I will, across the world, from sea to sea—independent, content, and free.

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