just a little
Lord knows I’m a long way off from being able to blend in even remotely, and even today I ordered a beer in German and was immediately replied to in English. The pub was pretty empty so I asked what it was. I asked if I’d said something wrong, and the Kellnerin said “No, it was just your pronunciation.”
However, there are ways in which I’m blending myself into this city existentially that I’m really coming to enjoy.
For instance, in Germany, when a light is about to turn green both red and yellow light up together. I wonder if this is because most cars here are manual, and it gives the drivers a little extra cushion, but even the bike lights do this. I noticed on my morning ride today that I am firing up as soon as I see yellow and red, and I know not but a few weeks ago I was still hesitating until I saw a verified green.
In restaurants, I’ve not had a single waiter pretend to be my friend, and I can’t recall a time when a Kellner or a Kellnerin has told me their name. I haven’t been told what the specials are, or what’s good tonight, and I haven’t been asked how the meal is in the middle of it. I’ve gotten used to sliding into restaurants, seating myself without any interference, and requesting the check when I am ready for it, and not on the wait person’s timetable. I think I’ve gotten accustomed enough to these things that I’ll miss them, and I hope I’m here long enough that they don’t become forgotten too easily.
I’m 100% comfortable with using the toilet brush that’s next to every toilet in Germany. Even portable toilets. This is a little gross, sure, but cleaning up after myself is much less gross than some of the nightmare toilets I’ve seen in America, and have yet to encounter here, and I’ve used Oktoberfest toilets.
I keep expecting to feel homesick, or in German “Heimweh,” but it doesn’t come. I miss friends, I miss family, I miss Nesmith, but I don’t long to be back. I don’t even crave specific dishes. My at home diet has changed pretty drastically, and I’ve been accused by my roommates of eating like a German, but this is primarily because I make small simple sandwiches, and they are oven heating frozen meal madnesses like Dr. Oetker’s Pizzaburger. I found this box in the garbage can one morning looking like a bear had been at it.
I think about the tacos at Taco Deli or a slice of brisket, or even a beef rib, and I’d happily get down on any of those, but my heart doesn’t ache for them. So far I don’t even miss driving. All of which seems profoundly weird (especially Taco Deli), but it’s all true.
I’ve been given a verbal commitment to put me to work. It feels hopeful and good, but I know better than to count on a yes said at a casual meeting. I’m still pursuing other leads and ideas, but it feels like the final piece of the first puzzle is within reach. I kept my cool leaving the meeting, and I was glad it was raining as I left because I walked out and stood on the corner tearing up. What it will really mean is that I’m going to have the chance to really see if this works, if this is where I want to be.