Fairy tales do come true! The story of an expats dream coming to fruition.
Living abroad, you miss the obvious: people and food. Both might be available at times, but these times are rare and come with a price (whether it’s import taxes, travel costs, etc). You learn to live without though, make substitutes, do a lot of Skyping and Gchatting, etc. Living abroad makes home more special than you ever dreamed. It is a constant despite changes. It’s a security blanket and visits are so incredibly special. You learn how to truly cherish moments and not waste a second.
Then, sometimes your German roommate really wants to learn how to make perfect cookies (Germans don’t really do cookies) and you have to inform her that you’d love to help her out but for the perfect cookies, you need *soft* brown sugar. Germans have brauner Zucker, which translates directly to brown sugar, but it’s actual a natural, unrefined sugar, not brown sugar as we know it.
A couple weeks later, you happen to be going to Stuttgart and remember there is a U.S. military base near the city. You’ve heard some of the perks of living on base, the main being an American grocery store (the Commissary). Immediately, you go out on an Internet limb and post in the Stuttgart area on CS:
Low and behold, we got a reply (a few actually), but went with our first reply, who we will call B. B met us at the train station, loaded us in his pick up truck that the Army had shipped over (so delightfully American), and we were on our way. Upon entering the base, there were several gates with armed guards (surprisingly not in military uniforms, nor were they American). We were asked for our passports because B had to check us in and out. Unfortunately, Maggie had no ID with her and could not experience the time on base. They were VERY strict on this matter as it is very important to know who is on and off base in case of attack or sensitive information going missing. After coming all this way, we decided to drop her off at a nearby cafe while I did some shopping.
We returned, got me checked in browsed the “mall” and food court, which reminded me immediately of a small town Wal*Mart. After getting a feel for the joint, we moved on to the Commissary, or supermarket. Since I was not allowed to shop myself, B pushed the car while I tried to maintain my crazy excitement. It immediately felt like I was back in the States seeing bags of Doritos, cans of Diet Dr Pepper, and frozen weight loss meals. Someone asked me which line I was in and I had a “did they just speak English to me?” moment. After giddy browsing, I made the following purchases:
Ranch dressing, canned pumpkin, 2 cans Rotel, 1 block Velveeta, 1 large Frank’s Hot Sauce, 1 package corn tortillas, Log Cabin syrup, Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, 1 Diet Dr Pepper, 2 boxes light brown sugar, and Quaker oats
The best part? I purchased all of this for around $20. Well, B purchased this, because I am not allowed. B commented that he would never buy any of these things. My response was YOU WOULD IF YOU COULDN’T HAVE THEM! Sure, these would not be my normal store run items, but I am thrilled at the idea of making another King Ranch chicken casserole and some warm cinnamon buns for breakfast on a Saturday morning.
Additionally, it was so interesting to see the base in general, here that special? American accent, and learn more about what the military is doing over here. Seeing the kindness of people going out of there way to make a silly American girl’s day was really heartwarming.
Ok, so maybe the lead in was a bit over the top, but it was certainly a cool experience and mega thanks to B, who really went out of his way for us!