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Day 9+

An update is long overdue, but it’s taken awhile to get my feet on solid ground—to find a balance between the feeling that we’re-only-here-for-a-year-and-I-must-not-waste-any-time and the sense that if I give in to that, I’ll make myself crazy with either guilt or exhaustion or both.

Life is different here, but it’s also exactly the same. The differences?

There are small ones like the fact that the toilet is in its own little room with the tiniest sink I have ever seen. The bathroom is across the hall with a bathtub that is lovely and deep, but has no shower curtain. It’s a bit of a splashfest when cleaning up.

The washing machine is next to the tub, but we have no clothes dryer, so laundry has to be considered in advance because there’s no quick-dry option. Most days, I carry the laundry up to the roof (er—more like wrangle a flimsy laundry basket around the creaking stairs) and hang it out to dry on a line that the Gingerbread Man rigged up. We also have large wire racks that will do when it rains or when winter sets in.

Our refrigerator is quite small, only slightly larger than a dorm-size fridge. It holds a couple of days’ worth of food. But there’s a grocery store across the street from us, and another one on the next corner over, so at least there’s easy access to fresh food.

Stores usually close here at 6:30. Many are closed on Saturdays as well, and most are closed on Sundays. No late-night runs to Target. Of course, I never made any late-night runs to Target when we were in New Hampshire anyway, but at least the option was there.

These are all typical European things. There are other differences, too, but they’re more along the lines of living in a city vs living in a rural area. The metro system, the people, the parks, the tiny dogs, the shops (there’s a shop entirely devoted to umbrellas here), the bakeries, the museums, the things to see and do and smell and taste. It’s mind-boggling.

The things that are the same?

The never-ending slog to learn German (but at least I’m surrounded by it now).
The desire for a daily dose of chocolate (Giant bag of chocolate chips, where are you when I need you?).
The maternal worry (Offspring 1 is doing swimmingly, though he has aggravatingly turned off his location finder. Gingerbread Boy is still settling in, but he really loves the bread, the lifestyle, the freedom.)
The guilt that I’m not doing enough (there’s so much to see and so much to do and work that I need to do and work that I want to do and books that I want to read and places that I want to go and planning that needs to be done and German that I need to study)
The exhaustion when I do too much (physical—hello bursitis!—and mental).
The grocery shopping bags (thankfully, still going strong after all these years).
The after-dinner walks (around the park, instead of around the loop).

Things that I really love?
Our apartment is infused with light. Being on the top floor, we have multiple skylights and large dormer windows that open right to the air. No screens. Very few insects. All that light is good for my mental health.
We have a roof-top terrace, accessed by a circular stairway that creaks, from which we can see the sky day or night.
The church across the way chimes out the time every fifteen minutes, and really goes to town at 8:00, noon, and 6:00. I have a secret wish to ring those bells sometime while we’re here.
The gelato everywhere. The pastries everywhere. The cafes everywhere.
The cobblestone streets and small picturesque alleys that lead to a courtyard or a church or even nothing at all.
The beach that is a metro ride away.

There’s so much that I really love. It’s no surprise to me that Vienna has been named the top city in the world to live in. It’s safe. It’s clean. It’s convenient. It’s beautiful.

And there’s gelato.

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