Sunday, July 14, 2013

K-Town Saturday Ramblings

On my way here, everything is a bit industrial, a bit run down, very “unGerman”. Although, all that means is it doesn’t fit the stereotype for what Germany should be that I’ve created in my head.

My head: narrow, cobblestone lined streets smelling of bratwurst and adorned with colorful window shutters. An elderly woman scowling from above as she hangs the laundry to dry (presumably for all the ungrateful German bell wearing, pretzel eating children she’s bore.)

No. This is not that. This is a military town. This is a university town. This is a metropolis. With that in mind, I have found St. Martin’s Square. Indeed… very cobblestone-y. There’s a famous (it would seem) fountain here and a patio perfect for drinks, people watching and journal writing while an accordion playing duo serenades the crowd… ahhhh I have found my Germany.

Living here still doesn’t feel real. Perhaps it’s because everyone looks like everyone from the US.  No one is wearing Lederhosen. The women aren’t wearing blonde pigtails and serving me steins of beer. (Making conscious effort to will these ridiculous stereotypes out of my head!)

The sounds surrounding me are beautiful. The soothing downpour of the fountain, the chime of the church tower, the cheers of a wedding party, the laughter of a soccer team, the sweet German endearments of the couple next to me. My own voice- each day becoming more confident with my “Guten Tag” and “Danke Schon”

Ready to order and wanting to put my extremely limited German to use, I slyly pull out my German Phrase Finder and tab to the “Eating Out” section. Not slyly enough it seems. Next to me I hear a mumbled “Deutsch is hard.”

Glancing up, I see a charming elderly German man, drinking his Pilsner solo staring at my partially concealed translation book. He goes on to say I can read my book all day long, but I won’t really learn it, it’s best to do. However, he is impressed at my attempt to learn the language as many American’s assume all Germans speak English- and don’t even bother.

I tell him how I find it to be an issue of respect, and also I find language fascinating; despite not necessarily having a knack for it. We go on to chat about the weather and where I came from and he’d hope I’d brought a die jack (coat) for the winter. We end it with him wishing me to have the very very best time here.

Which normally I would respond with an obligatory “yes, yes, thank you, you too.” Perhaps it was the slight language barrier making his words slower, more direct, more intense, and more meaningful; but the way he said it was the most sincere thing I’ve heard since I’ve arrived.

I’m not going to lie, despite the breakfast in bed and the planning (and going on) incredible trips, its not all rainbows and puppies and whatever other nouns bring a smile to your face here. Change is fucking hard. Uprooting my life initially seemed like an easy feat- I mean, hey I’m adventurous! Turns out there are a hell of a lot of emotions that go into quitting your amazing job; leaving your family and friends and moving around the world with a boy you’ve known for 10 months. No regrets here, I’m just saying that after a week of being here, it’s nice to hear some sincerity, some kindness, a well wish from a stranger.

*   *   *   *

Jamie and I discovered this next quote together. It textually describes (in the best way I’ve seen yet) what change, and all those crazy emotions that come with it, truly means to me.

“When we make a change, it’s so easy to interpret our unsettledness as unhappiness, and our unhappiness as the result of having made the wrong decision. Our mental and emotional states fluctuate madly when we make big changes in our lives, and some days we could tight-rope across Manhattan, and other days we are too weary to clean our teeth. This is normal. This is natural. This is change.” 

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