Bright Things in Dark Corners

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… lolImage

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 Imagescreaming, 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. Image

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.

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8 thoughts on “Bright Things in Dark Corners

  1. It makes me sad that people expect you to turn German. Maybe you’re meeting the wrong people? Everyone I meet thinks it’s great that I’m English and wants to know everything I find different here. Of course, I COULD speak German all the time if I had to, which probably helps, but I have a friend who’s been here 5 years and speaks just about enough German to order food, and she seems to get along well enough.

    1. Ahhhh it’s not necessarily friends or anything— I have a very large family of in-laws, and well you can imagine what I’m getting at. I can speak enough German sometimes, and I know I need to improve and work harder at it, but it can become unbearable when I go to his family’s house and they only speak German, although some can speak English, they speak in dialect, write to me in German, and also make pointed comments about how I should adopt and adapt to German culture. Know what I mean? Yikes!

  2. You are not, and will never be, German. You may, and I hope you do, become more comfortable here. But, you are a beautiful, strong, American woman. Don´t change that. 🙂

  3. It sounds like you’re finding your way here. I’m quite glad to read it, as I was getting a little worried about you from your last couple of posts.

    And anyone who expects your acclimation to Germany to mean full absorption into the hive-mind deserves a spectacular blow-off. Something like, “What an interesting idea. I’ll have to consider that.”

    Translation: Right. When Hell freezes over.

    1. I’m trying to find a way here, thanks. I’m doing ok at it. I know my last couple of posts were emotional and sad, I think pregnancy and loneliness really got to me at the same time. I’m trying to stick up for my language and culture, but I have a lot of people around me that would prefer me to be German and refuse to learn anything about my culture or where I’m from. It’s a bit disparaging. Thanks for your blog post and advice, I do appreciate it. I wasn’t sure how to respond at the time, but I really liked it.

  4. I think its your nearly surrounding in law. I can understand you, i can also understand the other side. I am married since 12 years with my wife now from China / Shanghai.
    First time it was hard for her living in germany. She also never gave up her culture and where she is from she also should never forget, and she do not. I also dont want this, nobody of her friends says to her or do it direct or indirect that she should give up her culture. Nobody of my family says this to her.
    She live now in germany feel very very very very comfortable here and her family can visit her when ever they want they can come here.
    I think that a family goes well, specially in a a new culture and new country, is that everyone should make a step to the other. They talk english, you try to talk german. Making together an American-evening with American food some times later a typical evening how Nürnberg would do it. You have such a fantastic situation you all can learn from each other and also from each others culture and language. How happy you must be all.
    Of course blaming from others or trying to make you as german makes you feel like the article above. Not all can be every time good and perfect. Ying and Yang you know. There are somtimes also shadow-days. But you are in a such a great life, remember your sunny days and i think these are much more as your shadow-days. Remember your life in the USA and remember your life here. Think about what makes you more happy?
    I can only speak as a german living here the whole life. But i can understand your situation because also of my foreign wife. Since her i see many things with different eyes. If germans want to change you, they didnt think about this, how foreigner can feel about this. But you are on the best way to be a American loving Germany and Europe. People can read it between the lines. This is a procedure. Everyone have this one day, even when some big changes in your life are. Dont worry. You made all right! Home is where the heart is and you feel best…

    Big greetings from Bavaria,
    Michael

  5. Hey,

    now I know A lot has happend to you between this post and the present. But I’d still like to comment. First of all: I’m german. So narurally a lot of what I’m writing is tinted by my upbringing in this country.

    Now It happens that I the school I went to was well known for having a focus on languages. It was possible to do the german Abitur, the french Baccalaureat and the IB simultaniously. So half the pupils in my class was international, and for a long time we had to speak english to each other. By now all of them (at least the ones I’m still friends with) speak exelent german and regard germany as their home country. In a way they’ve got the same problem as you. Just the other way around, as some dumb people are trying to tell them they couldnt be german. Coz they werent born here.

    This has led me to believe that nationality is something everyone should be free to choose for them selves. It doesnt matter where you’re born. It only matters which culture you feel you belong to.

    One of the consequenzes is that if everyone should be freely abled to choose what he wants to call home, it means that it would be unessesary to live somewhere he doesnt want to. Thus making it neccessary to adapt if you live somewhere. After all if no one plans to adapt why live there? So to a certain extend I expact people in germany to speak german. Or at least try. Gosh I hope that does make any sense.

    In a way I think the last paragraph is what makes people tell you, what the are apparently telling you.

    one last thing: I honestly think it makes a huge differnece where in germany you live. In some backwater place in bavaria people a bound to have a differnet opinion on imigration realated issues than people from some big city. (And I hope this consoles you some: everyone besides bavarians makes fun of bavarians. At least in Germany)

    Now if your inlaws ennoy you in the future: do me a favour and ask them if they have ever been to majorca. And whether they speak spanish.

    regards

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