i’ve been in germany for approximately three months now and i still don’t speak any german, aside from, “ich spreche kein deutsche”, which is often met with a smirk, and sometimes not even understood at all, which speaks volumes about my poor pronunciation. that is, however, not entirely my fault. over two weeks of the time i’ve been here was (happily) spent back in california, and almost a full week was (reminiscently) spent in barcelona. the rest of the time was (at times frustratingly but mostly calmly) spent planning my wedding. now that that’s over and i’m just ‘here’ with no plans of returning to california and nothing as exciting as a wedding to plan or look forward to, i find myself sitting on the sofa, feeling bad about myself for doing so and watching the rain.
though the feeling of living in a different country, alone and confused about customs and language and how to use the strange buttons on the laundry machine, is quite similar, the experience of moving to barcelona sight-unseen was very different from moving to leverkusen. first of all, it was exciting: i was about to turn twenty-six and ready for something big and new, ready for ‘europe’ in all her tobacco-stained, cobble-stoned, absinthe-soaked glory. secondly, it was barcelona – it simultaneously glittered and stank, it was both cosmopolitan and ignorant, open-mindedly progressive and quite stereotypical all at the same time. it impressed everyone.
not surprisingly, leverkusen doesn’t garner the same response.
all the same, here i am (older and slightly wiser about the ills of romanticizing cities, men, colleges and just about everything else), basically out in the boondocks. it has been argued that i’m exaggerating a little bit, but i believe if i can walk for about 3 miles (if mapmyrun.com can be trusted) and within that walk see horses, deer and a flock of sheep while barely being able to see a house through the treetops, then i can correctly use that term.
i’m having a hard time not romanticizing leverkusen in the opposite way (i said slightly wiser). the rain only adds to it all. two days ago, towards the end of my hour walk around the river, it began to drizzle and that’s when i saw the deer – six of them, standing still except their twitching ears, watching me and i felt filled with it all – the river, the sound of the rain, the smell of the horses and the sight of deer in an open field. it was so fresh, so new and yet so fixed in antiquity and so ordinary that it felt good to feel so small.
in barcelona, the first time it rained, i was caught outside and spent the day wandering around, lost, crying, getting drenched, surrounded by large, grey, gothic buildings – it was dramatic and dirty and when i got home, i couldn’t really tell anyone about it because my flatmates were two catalan brothers who pretty much refused to speak any language other than catalan (except when they rented the room – they were happy to speak english then) and a brazilian who claimed he spoke spanish, but really only spoke portuguese in a spanish accent.
here, in leverkusen, i mostly sit with a cup of tea, in my clean, white, well-lit living room (nothing was clean or white in barcelona) and watch out the window, waiting for my husband to get home: the opposite of dramatic, prosaic.
my grandmother is always telling me to write down my experiences and i’ve tried to keep a diary before, but that always ended up being a combination of diatribes against myself, nightly reasons-why-i’m-grateful-today and other such “tools” to improve my mood and to do lists, with a few things crossed off here and there. which has always made me feel a little ridiculous. as if all i have to say to myself and the world is a conflicted back-and-forth banter about my general well-being and what i need to pick up at the supermarket. i assume that as i’m now putting it on a website with an official title of “blog”, i’ll at least avoid the to do lists.