I was telling The G-Man a very silly and unimportant story in bed last night, as is my wont so I can get everything out of my head and have nothing to distract me from awesome dreams. By the time I finish telling him whatever is on my mind, dollars to donuts he’s already fast asleep and gently snoring. The only other thing I talk about that produces this effect is when I explain how bread is made. Perhaps, I induce sleep with my boring-osity… lol
I told him about how when I was an age 8-10, I can’t remember which, I decided to create my own playroom in the attic. I shared a room with my sister, who is nearly 4 years-older than me, impossibly cooler, and naturally a complete slob (you would almost always find our room with a layer of her clothing covering the floor. How she ever find her outfits is beyond me. Or her retainer for that matter). So I went up into the dark attic, and cleaned it from top to bottom over a week. This attic was the length of an apartment, so you can imagine it was tough and scary, with very little lighting. Once I cleaned it all out, I put stuffed animals, dolls and bright things in the dark corners I thought were the scariest. After that, I spent most of my free time up there, never afraid anymore. (Although I was deathly afraid of the basement but that’s a different story).
You may be asking yourself where this boring lame story is going, but there is a point. Promise. See, you can do two things when you are afraid of a place. You can run away screaming, OR you can find a way to get over your fears. Germany terrifies me in a lot of ways; I think it oscillates between wanting to run away and trying to put bright things in dark corners. But then there is this thing I truly hate which throws me off trying to enjoy this place (yeah, yeah I know I shouldn’t let things get to me!). I really despise when Germans try to make you German. They want you to speak their language all the time, learn and embrace their culture, see that their culture is better than yours in every possible way, and if you stop complaining, give up your national identity, and convert to their way of living, you can finally be accepted here. Is that all true? Maybe not, but it’s how I feel sometimes. Especially by those closest to me, who don’t understand that I’m from a different country, I don’t understand different dialects, I don’t push people out of my way in grocery stores, and I really could care less if your culture entitles you to be a jerk to others even if you justify it with- but we take a long time to be comfortable around new people– that’s how we are, mia san mia. Being a jerk is frowned upon in EVERY culture- maybe we Americans are superficial from time to time, but we know how to be friendly, if only because it’s courteous.
Look, we all know the rules of what we should do. If you move to a foreign country, you should learn their language, you should try to understand their culture, and you should try to make friends, at least in a way that makes you feel comfortable because that too is courteous. But you shouldn’t be forced into doing these things, you have to make the commitment yourself, be self-motivated…. no one should make you feel like you aren’t doing enough, and that your culture and language is inferior. That is part of your identity, and you shouldn’t throw that away because of pressure to be accepted here. Your culture, perspective, and identity are the bright things to put into those dark corners. They are the only constants you have in a land of variables, use them and never lose them.
Germany is not a bad place where good people go to lose themselves. It’s a great place, it has so many benefits, so many great aspects. Is it better than home or is home better than here? No, they are too different to contrast. Home is where you are comfortable and confident, and that could change the more you get to know new places. That attic made a fantastic playroom, even if it was dark and spooky, and took time to adjust to using. Maybe Germany will be home someday, but it won’t stop me from being myself or forgetting who I am and where I come from. Those things mean the world to me, and they shine brightly here when Germany can seem like the darkest of corners.