Looking for answers to life's questions

We went from Cologne to the city of Aschaffenburg. Not on most travelers must see list but it seemed right to go back after 15 years and see what had changed.

This hasn’t changed.

The first night we found a place to eat our first authentic German meal that was proceeded by a loud musical and peaceful protest against vaccines around the long city block. It made me nervous but it was orderly with no disruption except to traffic which the police managed.

My sister and I visited here in 2006. This is the city most of the stories about Suzy Q took place. We spent three years here when we were children. I took a picture of the street sign in 2006 just in case I wanted to find it again. This is the city where at the age of seven, I remembered where I came from, fully stepping into my body and became awake. You don’t forget those kinds of moments.

We booked a hotel in Aschaffenburg that was inexpensive with free wifi and breakfast included. The Olive Inn was a big green building. Easy to spot from a long distance and GPS took us straight there. We found a free parking spot on the side of the building which was a bonus. My daughter walked up to the office/reception area and it was locked up tight; on a Saturday at 1:00 p.m. My daughter called. She was told since there were only three other guests, they were told to close the reception office and stay home. That meant no breakfast as well. The key to our room was under the mat and she gave us the room number.

Not quite olive but you couldn’t miss it.

To be honest, the room was stark with nothing that encouraged an extended stay. No mini fridge or microwave. No way to make coffee or tea. The best part of the room was the marshmallow mattresses. Best night’s sleep we’d had so far.

On Sunday’s almost everything is closed, but we headed out anyway to find sustenance again and to see if we could find the street I lived on from one photographed street sign.

The guiding sign photographed in 2006

We programmed it into GPS and as we pushed start navigation, the direction signal didn’t move. We drove down the street and it directed us back up. The street we were looking for was exactly one block up from that awful motel. One block on the other side of the street!!! Ironic? Synchronistic? Fate?

We parked the car and walked the entire block. It was barely recognizable but when I found the little church, there was no mistaking it was the same block with a very different look. The school looked quite different and the apartments we lived in had been bulldozed.

I had thought 15 years ago that it was sad those huge buildings had remained empty after the US Army moved out of there. I guess they have decided to start over from scratch. It was a little heartbreaking but that is life. Everything must change.

The apartments had all been bulldozed.

My daughter saw what was left of my one-time home. Mission accomplished. Time for the new. That included a different town and hotel. We cancelled the rest of our stay. The rental car needed an oil change so we took it back to Frankfurt. They gave us another one for the rest of our trip.  We did miss those soft mattresses.

Marshmallow mattresses

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” ~ Terry Pratchett,  A Hat Full of Sky

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Comments on: "Synchronicity at Work" (71)

  1. It is a very strange feeling to see a place that’s part of you and you have of it, yet somehow separated. The fact that it’s changed so much gives a disorientating feeling but the scenes in your photographs are undoubtedly from Germany. The architecture and the descriptions of the hotel rooms and and the staff on a Sunday. Yep Germany.
    But a cage for the kids.. eeew.

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  2. Goodness, how things have changed since 2006. I suppose I could say the same about my own city but when we live in the changing landscape we hardly notice it.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I think that’s why going away and coming back is so interesting. We actually notice the changes. The whole town had changed since I was a seven year old child. I wonder if we would notice the flowers if they didn’t die away each year? Thanks for the visit.

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  3. Well, Marlene, I’ve caught up with reading your posts, but it’s too late to comment on all of them. I’m loving all of them, as they make me feel that I am along for the journey . . .

    I lived near here when I was in my teens (well, and in several places before that last home, too) and coming back after more than 50 years has been interesting. Some features are still as I recall; others are gone. But the land itself looks as it did when we took our Sunday drives in the good weather . . . I do love that!

    I hope you go on to further adventures . . . as you say, ‘never say never’ . . . I could handle a few myself!

    I love your descriptions and I remembered your Suzie Q stories as soon as I saw those apartments; esp the one of her dancing in the window. Oh, my!!

    I so look forward to coming here and catching up . . .

    I’m glad you had those amazing baskets for Christmas, too. What a thoughtful gift!

    One thing that helped me, by the way, was remembering that fear and excitement feel exactly the same in our bodies; so when I felt anxious or fearful while travelling, I just called it ‘being excited’ and that helped a lot. My only regret is not doing it all much sooner in my life.

    Now, do go have some more adventures and come back to tell us about them . . .
    You are always in my thoughts, my friend ❤

    Liked by 5 people

    • Three more in the works before heading home and then the real adventure begins, Linne. Have a very Happy New Year and stay warm and crafty. HUGS! M

      Liked by 1 person

      • I hope your New Year’s Eve was a good one, Marlene. I’m finally getting back to crafty; the slump seems to be over (or at least retreating haha). Looking forward to your next adventure, my friend. Hugs back, too!

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      • I’m so glad the slump is retreating, Linne. New Years was loud!!!! We each had a beer and some chips then finally dropped off to sleep after making a list of what this year should bring. Next adventure coming as soon as my brain returns. Need to work on photos as blog is written. Hugs, M

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  4. It’s not always easy to go back and see the changes. You sure are one lady with a lot of courage!
    And that Terry Pratchett quote is spot on. Thank you for reminding me of.
    In the meantime, pass auf x

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    • Maybe I’m just not too smart, Jill. 🙂 I think Terry Pratchett knew exactly what I was felling. It felt right. This entire country has completely changed. It was hard for my mother after being away 50 years to see what had become of her home. As far as “pass auf ” we are being incredibly careful. It it worked, I’ll be home in the states soon. Happy New Year, Jill and thanks for the visit.

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  5. Wonderful to travel along with you Marlene and see through your eyes of today and yesterday..
    So happy some things are as you remember them, while other things are changed and no more..

    I hope as we enter into 2022 we all can lat the past go a little more as we try to create anew a world built on our dreams, rather than our fears..
    Loved your narration throughout Marlene..
    Have a very Happy New Year dear friend. 😘 💜💚💜🥰

    Liked by 4 people

    • There is a much bigger picture at work here, Sue. Each place I visit shows me more of it. I’m not a nostalgic person. The past is only important if I learned from it. Too much to carry otherwise. I had no idea I was directly across the street from this place as it all look so different even in 15 short years. I think we were meant to see it end. We had hoped to get to England, Ireland, Scotland, Belgium and the Netherlands. Instead we got a mix of old and new. This new year ahead is offering much of the same. A blend of old and new. The unfolding is exciting. Wishing you the best the New Year has to offer. Love and hugs. Marlene

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  6. The Terry Pratchett quote is very apt. I’ve only driven through a part of my old neighborhood. But from recent pictures I’ve seen there’d be nothing to see that I’d remember anyway. Going home can be very hard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Terry Pratchett really resonated for me. When you realize that my next address in an area I have lived close to before will be address # 36, home is where I am at the moment. Places where experiences happened. That place was the most hallowed ground I have ever lived on. My experiences there, profound. It was hard to see so much left to fallow. I won’t be back again. Happy New Year, Lou.

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  7. So many memories and emotions in this post. It sounds as though the visit was good for you. What did your daughter think?

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  8. Wow, this has been quite the trip down memory lane, Marlene. It seems not much ever stays the same, but sometimes it’s nice to see a little old sprinkled about. Terry Pratchett’s quote is perfect! Thanks for sharing. Happy New Year!❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Jill. I got the old in the meal. I was slightly overcooked but perfectly German. Yes, that quote did fall right in place there. Happy New Year to you as well. May it bring health and healing.

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  9. Nothing stays the same, but we would be foolish to expect it to and you have the best outlook on how this adventure is going.

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    • Thanks so much for those kind words, Deb. I am always amazed at how many people do want things to be the way they have always been.. Every day is new and different. We get to watch it unfold. Hope you had a great Christmas and wishing you a very Happy New Year. Hugs.

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  10. I guess when you’re in the same place for a long time you don’t notice the changes or they’re more subtle. Such an interesting journey, Marlene.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are very correct about the changes appearing more subtle when you never leave a place. That’s why travel is so good for us. It has been more interesting than even I expected. There was a greater hand at work here. Thanks for the visit and have a very happy new year. Lets hope things finally get better..

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  11. Things change and remain all at the same time. I remember returning to my childhood town after many years. There were familiar places, updated places and some that were no longer. But, I remember it bringing warmth to my soul. Continue to enjoy your trip, my friend. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Missy. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. I haven’t convinced my daughter to go to the place of her birth but her brother went there and met the new owners of our house. They even invited him in. He did the same thing with the place where we lived with his grandparents for a time. They invited him in too. I’ve gone back to several of the places I’ve lived but they have no draw for me anymore. Now I’m going to focus on the next place I will be living. See if I can turn that into home. Happy New Year, Missy.

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  12. I read this hours ago and commented and it went up in smoke. What an amazing post about the past, the present. And who knows where the future may lead you? I laughed at the marshmallow mattress and that green green building. What an adventure you and your daughter are having!

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    • I’ve had comments go up in smoke too. So frustrating. They were building another high rise right next to the green hotel. Nothing is sacred anymore. It is quite the adventure but I’ll be glad to get home and start mattress shopping. 😉 We gave everything away when we left. Now we know what we are looking for. Daughter wants more marshmallow, me I’ll go for one I can move and clean under. 😉 Happy New Year, Pam.

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      • One of my favorite books when I was in my 20s was Thomas Wolfe’s “You Can’t Go Home Again.” https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/12447 It’s fiction, but basically autobiographical, showing how “life” and places are so different once we go back to where we first belonged. Anyway, that’s why I applaud you and your daughter for traveling and seeing what it’s all like now. Closure, in a way. May the future hold the “perfect” mattress for you – soft yet firm with plenty of room underneath to maneuver. Kind of like what we hope for in life. ❤

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      • So very true, all of it.

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  13. Marlene, seeing the old 2006 photos and then finding the same places must have been disappointing, or at least surprising. It’s the fence around everything that was hard to see. I remember the Suzy Q stories, but she wouldn’t remember everything the way you do. Your positivity, moving forward, is so inspiring. It’s something few people have and most need. Really. I’m glad you went back there! Thank you for posting this episode, as it was the one visit I most wanted to know about. Terrific quote!

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    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Jennie. It was jarring! I knew there would be changes but even in 2006, it was enough like we left it in 1958 to recognize it. The rest of the town had changed but the base housing was all still intact. This time if it hadn’t been for the sign and the church, I would have second guessed that it was the same place. As for moving forward, I already have a new place rented. Amazing what you can do with a computer. 🙂 Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. If you had been there all this time, you’d have seen the changes come bit by bit. Seeing them after such a space, they jar. Even when things are the same, sometimes they seem smaller or dingier. There’s a John Prine song called How Lucky about a visit home that includes as part of each verse ‘there’s all these things that I don’t think I remember’ and that pretty much sums up going back to my hometown. Stay safe and happy new year!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I had expected some change but you are correct; it was jarring. I’ll have to look up the song when I get back to whatever I’ll call home. Internet is iffy in hotels. Have a wonderful 2022.

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    • Sorry to jump in, but I want to thank you for that reference to John Prine’s song. I’ve heard most of them, but didn’t remember this one. His work has always had a lot of meaning for me. Loved the song and then found the interview with Citizen Abels. Just awesome! So thanks again!!

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      • Have you seen the John Dickerson interview for 60 minutes? It’s a really nice one. There’s an outdoor concert venue near me called Wolftrap and I think John Prine drew the biggest crowd they’d ever had when he was last here…I loved his last album and was sad he didn’t get a chance to do more.

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      • Have to reply here, @Arlingwoman; it won’t let me do so directly. I haven’t been able to find that interview (the 60 minutes one), but will keep an eye out for it. Thanks for the recommendation. I like all his work, but some songs are especially poignant, like “Hello In There”. “Your Flag Decal”, on the other hand . . .

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  15. hey hey Vonderfrau 💗 they might have offered you an option when they decided they weren’t making breakfast, yesh. That doesn’t sound like good hosting at all. Sounds like a lot of these towns are deadsville. Such a shame for your visit. Glad you’re getting around safely. Sending sunny wishes for some fun days around the corner xK

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  16. Marlene, this is becoming a precious trip for you and your daughter – letting her gain some insight into where you grew up and an opportunity for you to revisit your past. It must seem very odd with so many changes, new buildings yet I sense some reconciliation within you. The Terry Pratchett quote sums it up perfectly.

    One of your paragraphs struck a chord with me particularly:

    ‘This is the city where at the age of seven, I remembered where I came from, fully stepping into my body and became awake. You don’t forget those kinds of moments.’

    I hadn’t quite realised it until then but I felt just the same at age seven when I arrived in England, settled into the small Yorkshire village, started primary school and made lots of new friends, some of which I’m still in contact with. A moment of epiphany that remains a keystone in my life. I often tell my mother I really felt alive the day we came to the UK, my life went into technicolour and yes, fully awake and aware of myself and my place in the world!

    Wishing you a happy and gentle 2022, Marlene! xx

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yours is the only comment on that subject. I thought I’d wait and see if anyone noticed it. For me it was a spiritual experience. Only those who have experienced it would understand. It changed me in such a profound way and it seems seven is the age it usually happens. Fascinating! Thanks for the visit and Have a very Happy and Creative New Year. This last one has been very defining. Many more changes ahead.

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  17. Your first authentic German meal took that long? I am surprised, but glad you finally got it. I would have been interested to see a protest in another country, and compare it to here. It was smart of you to take the photos in 2006, and smart of you to keep them on you all this time. I may have neglected one or both. I had a couple of coming-into-myself moments, but nothing like what you describe. I think getting a sense of self was bit-by-bit for me, and took decades. Your spirituality is huge and intimidating to me, though I love the way you wear it. That building though, where you lived…it just has the look and feel of a place from memories. I almost felt nostalgic myself when I looked at it. I had fun imagining Suzy Q toppling trash cans. I am sad that the church looks neglected, because it’s one of the more interesting pieces of architecture. Perhaps it will be revitalized when people fill the new homes there.

    Your in-room photo showing the carpet reminds me of a funny thing my grandmother did when she traveled in Germany, and that was take photos of the furnishings in her hotel rooms. She thought the decor was usually hideous, though I am sure she stayed at the cheapest possible accommodation. Then they traveled to Russia and found the rooms even more entertaining. She took photos and sent them to me so we could laugh together. There would be a pumpkin orange satin bedspread, aqua pillowcases, pink plush carpet, velvet blue curtains, and a lime green tweed loveseat with tasseled tan pillows with sequins, everything clashing as much as possible and she would laugh and laugh.

    Good to hear from you, oh traveler. It’s nice to hear your familiar voice, even when it’s coming from an unfamiliar (to me) landscape. ❤

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  18. Thanks for sharing your memories … and their impact. We all hold on to some things the way they were … and forget that everything changes around us and within us. I look forward to hearing and seeing more 💕

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  19. Happy New Year Marlene!

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  20. I can imagine how incredibly sad it must have been to see these changes, thank goodness you have the photos from before. At least your daughter has a better idea of your childhood. I lived very briefly in Munich and we listened to the American forces radio station all the time. In fact the expression “There will be increased precipitation in the mountain’s “, became part of our vocabulary, in England we would just say it was going to rain! Fond memories.

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    • Thanks for the laugh, Cathy. We do like to fluff up a sentence, don’t we. I did not like Munich any more than I like Frankfurt. I’m not a big city girl. More like a suburbs with plenty of shopping girl. 🙂 Yes, my daughter is getting a better picture of what made me this cranky. 😉

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  21. Oh yes, we see everything with new eyes when we come back to a place. And it’s not always easy. Thanks for taking me along on your journey. And warmest wishes for this new year.

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  22. A very mixed visit, I should say. Gosh, you are taking us up and down and all around, Marlene. I imagine you have felt the same way!

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  23. I would have sworn I left a comment (and perhaps I did), but I’ve enjoyed a second read and the fact that the pictures are far more interesting when I can actually SEE them on my monitor and not my phone. (When will I learn). I feel like I’m walking with you, Marlene. You’re such a wonderful storyteller that after many years I guess I just take it for granted. I enjoyed reading the comparisons and seeing where you lived. I smiled when you pointed out the window were Suzy-Q made mischief. What a life you’ve had, spanning different countries, languages, and cultures. Thinking of you today and always. xo

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    • Thank you, Alys. Thinking of you today as well. We are home and trying to recover from jet lag. Massive lack of sleep the last few days. I’ve had those kind of days too. I really thought I did do something and then, Poof. Hugs. M

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      • I hope you are easing off of the long travel days and the jetlag, MH. There is nothing worse than lack of sleep. I’m cutting back on my diet soda consumption, so that’s helping with sleep. Let’s schedule a call in a few more weeks when you are feeling more settled. Hugs

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      • I’m doing a LOT of mini sleeps right now trying to get back on schedule. I had to give up all soda in 2010. Not a drop since. Gives me leg cramps. I think we talked about that before. Lack of sleep is awful. I will send a note about a call. Love and hugs. M

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      • Soda is an excellent habit to kick, but I’m sorry to hear about the leg cramps. I wonder what ingredients caused that? Perhaps it reduced your potassium, which I believe is also responsible for leg cramps. I have questions, always questions. I could spend hours r following Google links.

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      • Hence the title of my blog. Always searching for answers. I know many rabbit holes I can introduce you to if you don’t have enough. 🙂 I always thought it was the carbonated water.

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