So, the first phase of the Great Adventure wrapped up 10 days ago, when I again made the trek from Kentucky through New Jersey and thence to Germany and rejoined the family in Germany. While Phase 2 carries with it its own set of challenges (notably my adjustment to telecommuting and learning to function in Germany at something above an advanced tourist level), my feeling is that this is going to be a piece of cake compared to the previous two months, which were, in the final analysis, pretty sucky.
What I learned during my period of enforced bachelorhood is that I've become completely unfit for single life. Living with someone in a relationship (as I have with Sylvia for some 14 years) changes one considerably; having a child changes one utterly; having another child changes everything yet again. Large parts of myself are invested in these three other people, and without them around, I feel literally empty. I don’t just miss them, I miss a part of me that only exists when I'm with them.
I'm not writing this to boast about what a devoted husband and father I am. There’s actually something kind of disturbing about this. Put in the worst light, I think I may use my family as a crutch to get myself to do things that, as a supposedly functioning adult, I ought to be able to do under my own power: things ranging from the mundane (eating healthily and picking up after myself) to the existential (leaving the house and talking to other people). I’m not saying I was completely unable to do these things without them there, but I'll admit they took a more conscious act of will to accomplish than otherwise.
(A more charitable version of the above might be to say that one's family becomes part of the fabric of one's life, and just as with a real fabric, one cannot arbitrarily remove some threads without damaging the whole. This may be true, but it also raises the question of why some types of cloth unravel more precipitously than others.)
Well, self-pity and philosophizing aside, I am ecstatically happy to be reunited, and that is carrying me through the inconveniences entailed by the transplantation. I expect I'll be grousing about them plenty in time, but for now I am just appreciating feeling whole again.