Saturday, December 8, 2012

Adventures in Germany Post 1

Sitting in our new living room at nearly 8am, German time, watching snow fall outside. It's quiet in here, just the occasional sound of a snore or cat meandering around. My kitty, Monkey, is sitting on my left wrist, purring, and laying his head across the back of my hand.

Sundays in Germany are rather deserted. People stay in, shops are closed, and it makes me a bit reflective about all the changes in my/our lives in just the past week. We've only been here that long. Feels like both longer and shorter than that. I don't know why.

Having the cats here has made all the difference, I think. Without them it didn't feel like we were complete and we couldn't even begin to get comfortable until they arrived. Having pets you really care for is both wonderful and awful. Wonderful because there is nothing like the friendship you can really have with an animal, even when you can't communicate through words. It becomes about trust and touch, about just being together and not having to say a thing. It's also awful because you can't explain some things to them, like why they had to be in crates for 5 days, away from you, thinking you were never coming back for them. If I think about that too much I kind of want to throw up, so I just pet them and cuddle them and think about something else. Like how Monkey is now doing his Superman pose across my hand, polydactyl paws stretched contentedly, drifting off to sleep.

It's trite, but being in another country where I don't speak the language is definitely odd. But I find, at least right now, something incredibly peaceful and comfortable about it. I can't watch TV, it's all in German. I have the internet, but I'm on nearly opposing hours from everyone I know, so there's a kind of lag and limit to communication times. It's isolating, and I'm sure I'll feel that more and more, but right now it's not upsetting. It's almost soothing.

My goals for this year, personally, 1. write as much as possible 2.  travel, see places I haven't, and 3. take things as they come. For the last 33 years I've been a worrier, anxious and scared about taking big risks. I'm taken some all the same, but nothing quite like this. Moving cross country was the first really huge leap, which made deciding to do this somewhat "easier", though still obviously scary and stressful.

At the moment, though, I'm enjoying the fact that it's real winter here with snow and hats and gloves. I'm enjoying the fact that I get to say I live in a flat in Europe. I'm very much enjoying exploring the city of Hamburg, which is incredibly beautiful and cobble-stony and, you know, European. I'm enjoying listening to people speak German and only occasionally understanding a word or two. I'm enjoying all the things made with cherries and chocolate a lot, and the fact that grocery stores here seem to have all the yogurt products you could ever want.

It's all very strange and surreal because everything is just different enough to be slightly off-putting, but familiar enough not to be completely alien. It's a collection of changes, though. The weather, the language, the way the building creaks. But then I hear gentle snores from the other room and it all feels quite normal and grounded again. We change the litter and take naps and eat meals just like we would anywhere. But now we're doing it in Germany.

I have no idea how all of this will turn out. Which is terrifying and exhilarating the way any big change and risk is. Frankly, that's how life really is all the time, we just set up ways to avoid thinking about it and pretending it isn't. We're all living on a rock floating in space.

So, today is going to be quiet and writerly, and will probably involve some serious navel-gazing and existential story theme explorations. That's another kind of adventure, too.


  1. Wow, it´s pretty amazing to see an american describe the subtle differences between the USA and europe! Never quite understood what they are, must be because I haven't been :) I haven´t been following you that long, is there a special reason for the big move? if you ever decide to travel to the netherlands and want some not so touristy places to go, let me know!

  2. Sounds like you're settling in. I lived in the UK for a year in my mid 20's and even though I was still in an English speaking country, the subtle differences in the culture, shops, menus and newspapers took some getting used to. I ended up not staying because I just didn't like being a foreigner when there was still somewhere else that felt like 'home'. Good luck.

  3. Gosh...sounds like you are amidst quite a positive adventure and's brilliant you've taken the plunge despite previous anxieties/concerns. I love "We're all living on a rock floating in space"!! : ) puts a lot into perspective Xxx

  4. Welcome to Germany! Hamburg is a beautiful city. I especially liked the HafenCity the one time I visited Hamburg. It's a wonderful place for just walking around and taking in the mix of history and modernity. And then stop at the tea-museum for a nice cup of tea :-).

    Often it's the tiny things that make us feel at home or show us that we are somewhere different.

    If you ever feel like exploring the South of Germany I woudl be happy to recommend places to visit.

  5. Hamburg is gorgeous! I went there to visit a friend last August. One of the most exciting things to me about visiting other countries--or at least one of the most interesting things--is discovering the differences between your culture and theirs. :)