I am familiar with the pang of nostalgia and the ping-ping-ping of missing a person. (Or many people, as you will when you move 4,000 miles away.) But I have never missed a place. I have always waited to move until I felt like I could leave without having to look back with that heavy feeling at the bottom of my stomach.
And now here I am, and I am missing Mainz—a city I never even noticed that I liked. It’s not that I hated Mainz or even disliked it. It is just that I never found much of interest there. Or so I thought There are no bars I like to go to. The restaurants I enjoy are more of a fast food lark than a passionate enjoyment. (And my favorite cheap-o Asian place turned into a white-plastic-walled bubble tea shop just before we left. Poop.) Most of the buildings aren’t even pleasant to look at. (Thanks World War II.) When did this fondness crop up? I can’t say for sure, but here it is and here I am, no longer living there. Whoops.
It probably started with the stand at the Wochenmarkt (weekly vegetable market) where I bought my raw milk. Then the flea markets, who I would leave with bags of booty every single week. I developed routines. My friends didn’t live far away. I knew where I could get a free cup of coffee or buy fresh fish or pants that actually fit. I could walk right into the center of town in 25 minutes. There was and is nothing spectacular about the city, but it had become home as it wove tiny bits of itself into my days. I can’t believe I never noticed.