We left the Mercator early. 6 am. I was tired and a little groggy from a late night, celebrating. We had travelled to Zittar in the Netherlands for a night cap. Conversation, laughter and joy filled the terrace for three hours. It warmed the damp, cool almost spring air. We talked about adventure, leadership, family, love, Europe and of course home. The owner of the bistro spent time with us, chatting and asking us questions and answering ours.
“I want to come to Canada, it is so much prettier than here.” The bistro owner told us.
After a wonderful evening under the heat lamps we drove back to Germany and I knew my night wasn’t over as soon as I entered my hotel. I was greeted by the staff I had come to know fairly well over the last 4 days.
“Come Stu, come have a drink with us, come.” Eugene (my favourite staff member) said to me. As I pulled up a stool at the bar, we began talking, his broken english, my sad attempt to not embarrass myself with the few words I had learned in German. He had come to Germany when he was 3, from Africa. His father a diplomat, representing his country in Europe. He asked me question after question about Canada. He told me he was coming to visit in the fall. He had been planning it for a year. He was so excited to tell me how amazing Canada was.
As I finished my drink I got up to leave when I heard a spirited call for a drink from behind me. Eugene smiled and said “Hallo Jeff!”
Jeff pulled up a stool beside me. “You speak english don’t you?” he asked.
“Yes, I am from Canada. You?” I inquired.
“Portland, Oregon. I am here with the US military, been 4 weeks, will be here for another 4 at least. I miss home.”
He went on to tell me about how his friends and family are so jealous because of his world travels as an Engineer. He’s 27 years old and full of life.
“It’s not as good as everyone thinks. I love visiting, I love exploring and I have seen much more than most. But man I miss being able to walk in a store and read the labels with ease and ask for help without struggling. I’m not complaining but honestly, my life is good at home. I like the grass there!”
“You like the grass?” I quickly questioned. “You like the lawn? You like fields? Grass?”
“No, I like the grass where I am from. I don’t need to find better Grass. Do you get it?”
“Ahhh, the grass is always greener on the other side. Right. I do get it.” We clinked our glasses in a sort of mutual agreement of that comment.
We talked for about an hour, sharing stories from our travels and what we loved about our home. We exchanged emails, facebook names and shook hands.
‘I like the grass’, that really struck me.
It’s very dark in the morning. There isn’t much life other then the 6 bells ringing from the 200 years old church’s bell tower located a stones throw from the Mercator. As I entered the car that was taking me to the airport my driver Bruno quickly asked, “Are you with the Canadian Military?”
I told him that I was in fact working with the military. We spoke for a few minutes, then it was silent. Only the occasional sound of his GPS barking directions in German broke the almost soothing hum of tires on cool pavement. The sudden silence made me realize that perhaps the conversation was now done. I tried to find a comfortable position to hopefully grab a bit of sleep. We had a 90 minutes drive ahead of us.
I felt myself fading off. Then I was startled to consciousness by Bruno’s voice. “It’s my dream you know. Canada. It’s all I have ever wanted to do. 6 weeks. I am going in August. I am driving across Canada! You’re country is so beautiful, so big. I love to see it.”
I smiled, “Yes. Yes it is, so beautiful. So big. The grass is something you have to see.” I closed my eyes and smiled. Thought of Jeff.
Sometimes the grass is just fine where you are. Don’t just grow where you are planted, blossom.