11 Years Later

In 2007, I had an Au Pair from Germany named Elena. For those of you who don’t know what an Au Pair is, here’s a definition:

Au Pair– a young foreign person, typically a woman, who helps with childcare in exchange for food, a room, English lessons, and some pocket money

My mom had five kids and needed a little help, so Elena came to live with us for a year. Some of my fondest childhood memories contain her in them. When it came time for her to move on to her next job, ten-year-old me was devastated. I still remember crying the whole way home after we dropped her off at the airport. After she left, we stayed in touch for a while, writing each other emails, and then somewhat through social media. However, somewhere in the midst of the past eleven years, we lost regular contact. She was busy with her adult life in Germany, and I was busy navigating the rough waters of high school, and then college.

She saw on my Facebook that I was going to be in the Czech Republic, and she reached out to me. She invited me to visit her in Paderborn, Germany, where she lives today. It’s a ten-hour bus ride away from Prague, where I am staying now. But I knew that if I didn’t visit her while I was here in Europe, then who knows when my next opportunity would be. I accepted her invitation and booked my bus tuckers.

This past weekend was the weekend I spent in Germany with her. Upon my arrival, I was pretty nervous. This woman helped raise me, and I loved her like a mother. A lot has changed since the last time she saw me though. I was not sure if she would be proud of the person I have become, or if she would be different than I remembered her as a young girl. However, the second I saw her driving towards me at the bus stop in Germany, my fears dissipated. She was exactly as I remembered her, and we had an amazing weekend.

She showed me where she grew up, introduced me to her family, her god-daughter, etc. Her mother cooked us an amazing homemade meal and literally gave me a pair of her shoes because I said I liked them. Elena sent me home with a week’s worth of groceries and German candy. Plus, it was so nice to be around people that were practically family to me after spending all summer with (kind-of) strangers. She was someone that knew everything about my life, and it was cool to learn more about hers first-hand. It was amazing re-connecting with someone I have so much love for, but not much contact with. I already cannot wait to see her again soon.