Now there’s 2 massive tasks that I signed myself up for when I came over here. Finding and getting work, and really learning German. Each one of those is not “in an afternoon” kind of project. Now that i’m not in my German class anymore, it is entirely up to me on *both* of these projects to keep them moving forward. Luckily on these cold days its easy to stay inside writing cover letters and searching for jobs. Now making life work realistically here are projects that won’t feel complete for a very long time, and this has left me with an obsession for the feeling of projects being completely, progress being made, or simple preparedness.
For instance, I have become way too focused on my cell phone battery, or filling the exercise goals on the apple watch, or cleaning up my e-mail, or tidying up my iTunes library, or acquiring all the puzzle pieces in a certain video game. Mostly these are distractions, mostly they are on the phone or the computer. However, the greatest distraction of them is online dating. When I get a response I am in a small way validated in my presence here. Someone likes me.
In the weeks after Johanna told me she kept expecting to feeling something for me, but never did (over a text message on Sunday night), I felt like I’d had no real progress meeting girls. Certainly the few friends I’ve got here weren’t introducing me to anyone, and I started to feel real shitty about it. Then I went to Oslo. Tinder was still on my phone and finding girls in the area, and so when we’d stop for a coffee and grab a bit of Wifi, I’d check out a few people and “like” them, and not think about it. Turns out I’d be a big hit in Norway: I had more than 10 people “like” me back in under 48 hours. And a good number of them were forward enough to message me directly. I’d heard women were more forward in Norway, but this was totally different than my experiences in Germany or America. Tinder will only match you with someone if you both “like” each other, and here in Munich I’m lucky to get a few in a week. This may be due to Norwegians using the app more, or being more comfortable with around swiping on strangers faces, but it really shook me to feel like this thing can actually work in the right circumstances.
I am not, however, going to move to Norway for the chicks.
I simply returned to Germany with resolve. If I do not ask, I do not get. So I dove in on the dating platforms I’d been dealing with and I’ve now been on 5 dates in the last week or so, never in my life have I had such a concentrated dose of potential romance. Fortunately, here in Germany first dates aren’t even something you dress up for, and the check is usually split. So the stakes feel low, unless you realized you’re going to have speak German for an entire first date, then the stakes feel weird and crazy.
Date number 1: Isumi
We met, at her suggestion, at a cool little bar in the Glockenbachviertel area. The Couch Club was already crowded when we arrived and all the couches were taken. the Couch Club is a gin bar, and so we both started with gin and tonics, which to my mind were expensive, but they were good, and they gave us each our little bottle of tonic. She had just finished a 2 year stint at the Munich State Opera house giving tours and introducing children to the opera that were playing at the opera house at a given time. Sounds like a pretty great job. She had seen the version of the Flying Dutchman that I came to see back in 2014, so it was fun to talk about that, and she spoke incredibly good English. She’s half Japanese, half German, and speaks French, Italian, German, English, Japanese, and is leaning Spanish. Today I ate a bowl of cereal and drooled milk in my lap. She studied Piano and Voice in school, and currently works at a foundation that funds works of new composers. I tried to convince her to give Todd Terje a listen.
After a while the hip hop they were playing in the Couch Club got too loud, so I suggested we find someplace else to talk, because she is quite soft spoken. We stumbled upon a really cool little place called Hoover and Floyd, we ordered Weinschorle which is wine and sparkling water, and talked for a while more. She seemed genuinely impressed that I had done a little beer brewing, so it wasn’t going to be a shut out. Finally the night was over, just after midnight we stepped back out into the street. She told me to “keep in touch.” If that had come from the mouth of a native English speaker it would have been just a polite thing to say. However, I can’t really tell where I left it with her. She offered to give me a tour of the Opera House, and if nothing else I want to take her up on that. Emboldened by cocktails and wine, I kissed her on the cheek. The next day I kept sharply sucking in air and feeling embarrassed of that last maneuver. Ah well.
Date(?) number 2: Jessi
Now this, I think, doesn’t fully qualify as a date because of how it came about. It’s a popular thing here to have a tandem partner. That is someone you meet with regularly because you each want to learn the other’s language. Jessi messaged me on my way to Oslo through a tandem partner website, and we made a plan to meet when I got back. She’s vegetarian so I suggested the Ramen restaurant I’d enjoyed with Matt just a few weeks ago. Jessi had never had Ramen, and it went over quite well. She’s traveled a lot in Asia, and there she had to speak English, so, of course, her’s is quite good, but she’s a bit shy, so we bounced back and forth. We talked about the flea markets of Munich, and how to get through winter. She learned guitar in Asia, but has since taken up sewing, and said now that she’s made bags for all her friends, she can return to the guitar and learn more than “Blackbird.” It made me miss my ukulele, so I went out and bought one the next day, just a cheap 20 dollar junker to tide me over on cold winter evenings. Maybe because we were there as tandem partners and not explicitly with romantic overtones, or perhaps it’s just her personality (she did message me after all), but Jessi seemed far more engaged and interested than I was expecting. She asked lots of questions about Oslo, and after a bit we discovered we actually live quite close to one another. I expected us to take the U-bahn home together since it was below freezing that night. Jessi was on her bike, and my wimpy ass had to hustle back to the U-Bahn. On the way home I started to wonder if this was Jessi’s means to finding a guy, before we had gotten our coats on she was excitedly scheduling our next meeting. Love that enthusiasm. Soon we’re going to drink Gluhwein at the Christmas Markets, and compare one of the biggest markets with one of the new ones. If Jessi is just happy to be language pals, that’s cool with me, she’s a climber and wants to do some climbing soon, too.