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Georgia to Germany: 4,656 Miles East

a man poses for a photo outside

by Katrina Spencer

It was a psychic by the name of Sylvia who works on Broughton street in Savannah, Georgia that first told Lyric Thomas he and his family would be living together overseas. The child of military enlistees, Lyric was no stranger to frequent uprootings, so it wasn’t fear that caused him to doubt her words. The prophecy just didn’t make sense. He hadn’t even applied to a job outside of the United States! How exactly was this supposed to happen? But like so many literary figures from prominent texts, like Oedipus of Greco-Roman mythology and the biblical Jonah who tried to outrun their fates, the prediction would eventually find him, and, it turned out, Sylvia, after all, was right. 

In about a year’s time, Lyric and his family were headed to Stuttgart, Germany. He’d been “headhunted,” or recruited with intention, after having placed his resume in a database some 10 years prior, and was hired to work in cybersecurity. The offer was one easily accepted by both him and his spouse. The transition, however, was a bit bumpier. When he was originally invited to work overseas, the hiring personnel asked if he’d be ready to report to duty in a week’s time. Negative. Lyric, his wife, and kids, had the small issues of a house to sell, family pets to re-home, and school enrollments to navigate. You know: casual, quick, easy. 

The idea of making a significant move wasn’t so hard for Lyric. As a youth, his parents’ careers had taken him from the Virgin Islands to Germany to New York to California and to Georgia. When his folks received “PCS orders” in army speak– a “permanent change of station” in layman’s terms– the family upped and went where called. “I’ve adapted to not staying in places too long,” Lyric says, embracing the “army brat” moniker that many ultra-mobile military kids have. He had to orient himself anew in unfamiliar environments over and over again, which ultimately contributed to his sense of independence. Now, as an adult, Lyric finds little need to seek out the opinions, approval, or direction of others.

For a time, Lyric had settled in Georgia. He attended college there, earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science from a historically Black university, Savannah State. Georgia was where his parents and siblings were and where his children were growing up. However, there were certain recurrent themes in Atlanta, an urban area of 5 million people, that rubbed him the wrong way. Both his car and home had been broken into, he felt that greed surrounded him, and he noted a pervasive “crabs in a barrel mentality”– an approach to life in which every time one member of a community makes headway in an attempt to escape an unpleasant reality, he, she, or they are pulled back down by members of the same group suffering from the same problems. It was toxic. So, when opportunity came a-knockin,’ Lyric was there, primed to answer.

a family of four

Lyric Thomas (left) and his children

When Lyric and his family touched down in Stuttgart, a city of 627,000 people, many of whom are retirees, there were some adjustments to be made. His onboarding would not be without bumps and blips. Their first two months were spent in a hotel. One thing Lyric soon realized was that while he was an army brat, accustomed to diving into strange and new scenarios, his children were not. Also, his wife’s attempts to find work were harder than anticipated. And even though his company had shipped his car across the Atlantic as a service to him, tiny European streets were not made for large, American Dodges. The transition was going to take some time.

Eventually the kinks got ironed out. The family fell into a rhythm and came to love their new surroundings. A key, Lyric recounts, was not to give up too soon. He notes that some of the positions overseas have a high turnover rate because people arrive, expect one type of experience, and let go when those expectations aren’t met. Life in Germany is different than it is in the States, but it’s not necessarily for the worse, an ongoing narrative that Lyric promotes on his TikTok channel @Lyric2notes1. In addition to “army brat,” he calls himself a “share-aholic,” and is documenting a variety of impressions he has as an immigrant abroad. “When I walk out of my house,” he says, “I don’t have to worry about my neighbor having a .45 on his hip.” Gun violence in the United States is not only a concern to its citizens and residents, but several countries, too, have issued travel advisories alerting foreigners of its frequency in the U.S. Lyric feels safer in Stuttgart.

a group of friends pose for a photo

Lyric Thomas (center) poses for a photo with friends known as “The Breakfast Club” overseas

Other changes? Lyric has noticed that the food he eats and buys in Stuttgart isn’t processed and is generally free of preservatives. This means that consumers are more aware of what they’re putting into their bodies. It also means that the food goes bad faster and warrants frequent trips to the grocery store. The climate, too, he says, has an effect on one’s health. Germany is cooler than Georgia and less exposure to the sun means fewer opportunities to get vitamin D, which can be significant, especially for people with pre-existing conditions and/or disorders. But overall, Lyric appears rather contented. When I ask him if he’ll be coming back to the States, his answer is yes, followed by “but not for good.” He insists that Black people do not have to remain anywhere we are not being mentally, physically, spiritually, financially, and/or economically sustained. “If that makes me an Uncle Tom,” he says, “get me a cabin.” 

For more from Lyric, follow him on TikTok on the @Lyric2notes1 channel, and for Black people moving to Germany, Lyric encourages you to seek out social connections and affinity groups as he has with “The Breakfast Club.”


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