Wednesday, July 31, 2013

As of late

I started this blog a year and a half after I moved here as a forum to present my musings about life in Germany from the perspective of an American. It became apparent after a while that such a tenor, as embodied by my former choice in title, limited the range of topics I could, within the framework of my thematic choice, reasonably delve into. It has been a while since I last posted anything, almost a year to be exact. “I just got too busy,” is an easy alibi, but it’s not that cut and dry.

The truth is that at some point in the recent past I stopped observing my life through this prism of a foreigner and have become comfortable here. Although I cannot say in confidence that my fluency and accuracy are on the same level, my language skills have improved enough. I can hold my own in conversation, but I am well aware of the fact that my speech is still lousy with incorrect articles, improper use of verbs, or nouns, prepositions and adjectives for that matter, and peppered with clumsy yet still comprehensible (or so I tell myself) constructions. Yet none of that bothers me anymore.

That being said, I have not completely lost my Californian core. Take for instance this gorgeous summer weather we have been enjoying recently. As someone who comes from a place with nearly year-round sunshine, June and July have been kind of rough times to live here. Last year I only retrieved the summer clothes out of the basement for my trip home. In the past, I heard from people that there used to be proper summers with plenty of warm and sunny days. The first two years I lived here such days were few and far between, or so it felt to me by comparison. When there were sunny days everyone would enjoy them, and all you would hear on the streets is “Oh, how lovely is this weather?” The evening news would start with the anchor saying “Germany is blooming,” with b roll of kids playing in fountains or splashing in public pools, dogs panting, smiling groups in sunny beer gardens and of course the obligatory eating-an-ice-cream-in-the-shade shot. But these days, while treasured by all, seemed fleeting. By the time you got comfortable with the summer weather, clouds rolled in and you were back to the status quo. 

This year has been different. We’ve enjoyed a couple weeks now of consistently legitimate summer temperatures. I get the distinct impression, however, that not everyone is as delighted with this sunny spell. The fact that there had been no rain for a week didn’t bother me at all, but when I was at the salon I could hear another patron lamenting the dryness and uncomfortable heat, and the stylist echoing her opinion even reassuring her that the forecast predicted rain in the coming days. Or on a walk in the countryside with a friend and her dog, as we pass another resident the first words out of his mouth are “It is too hot, right?”

I like the heat. In fact, I think some Germans tend to play a bit fast and loose with the word “die Hitze,” (the heat). While 30°C (86° F) is balmy, I am not in any way distressed by it. I’m used to much hotter summer days, and where I’m from those temperatures have yet to arrive-they’ll surprise you in August or September when even some Californians begin to tire of the summer sun. Though it has to be said, the heat here is somehow different. Geography undoubtedly plays a role (latitude?), but that’s not the point. It’s examples like this, moments where I feel somehow different from everyone around me, which once seemed ever-present but over time have become as infrequent as warm and sunny days. 

This isn’t to say I don’t still have such thoughts, or plan to deny indulging myself by writing about them, but there are other yarns to be spun.