Thoughts on a rainy weekend

Yesterday I walked home it was raining and I didn’t see any snails.

I’m going to use that as a metaphor even though it was also completely dark so, there was probably snails all around me. A lesson I have learned many times before (5/6 times I’ve moved) is that you can’t move away or towards something. You are always yourself and you bring the weight of your troubles and joys with you. Regardless, I can’t help but feel like the grass is always greener somewhere else.

Saturday was the first day I got to really relax in like three weeks. It was also the first day I had the chance to look around and see what was missing when my day wasn’t fill with traveling and new experiences. I had felt ill and exhausted all week. I still had a headache in the morning. I stayed in during the morning and went to my first Swiss party that night. Real swiss friends (friends with each other, not with me) gathering to celebrate a birthday! Authentic awkwardness for the first people who arrive, authentic laughter hours later when the rest of the crew trickles in. When I told them I knew a little German and seemed to understand, they took the liberty of giving up on English and spent the majority of the night speaking in Swiss-German and even some Spanish. It was lovely, I was so glad that they were speaking in German and I could hear it. I could understand a fair amount. It felt nice to try to blend in.

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Rooftop terrace. We peaked up for a bit between the rain. 

That said, there is also something kind of isolating about not being able to participate in conversation. Something I’ve missed since I’ve been here and maybe for a while before. Again, I so enjoyed and was grateful I was invited to the party and went, but this morning was really stressful for me when I realized I can’t communicate with people. Even with native English-speakers and Americans I fee like sometimes I want to speak this different language that maybe only my friends will understand. And when I have to talk every day in these stilted sentence and about trivial stuff I don’t care about, I hunger for my my native tongue—real conversations, real laughter, real understanding.

Now in Europe, there’s just another wall because it’s so hard to get past that stage of surface conversation without  a common language. Maybe it sounds silly to make a vague demand for “real conversation”…no, maybe it just is. But I think maybe I’m impatient to just really know who the person is. I want to know as soon as possible if we will be friends or not. What do you find interesting? What do you think is funny? What do you observe? Tell me!

This morning (Sunday now) I was having a conversation with the amazing German woman who is staying at the b&b with me. She was talking about how a friend of her’s had explained the difference between United States and European views on marriage. She had heard that in the US, we had this notion that we marry because of true love and we live happily ever after in bliss with our partner. And if it’s not utter happiness, we have done something wrong, we get a divorce and start over.

In Europe, on the other hand, its more of a partnership to raise children in a financially stable environment. If you don’t feel completely fulfilled in your marriage, you see it elsewhere but you stay together for your children and other comforts. She admitted this is long ago and now divorce is quite common in Europe as well. However, I still feel like the first part is true–that we are all looking for this ultimate happiness but maybe we should just be looking for someone who compliments us.

I think I’m am just as demanding about my good friends. I want all of my friends to be my very dear and close friends, like the ones I already know.

Anyway, these are the thoughts I’m having at this halfway point of my summer in Europe

Your Turn:
  1. Sarah says:

    My sweet friend. I know that people always say, I know how you feel, but I actually know how you feel. A language barrier is so isolating, frustrating and nearly impossible to penetrate. I can remember listening to children yammer away in sweet childish French and hating them for their intelligence. If only, I would think, if only I could speak as well as that fucking child. How are they doing that? For the first eight months I was in Europe my relationships were either with Americans, Germans (fucking Germans who always speak perfect English), or surface relationships with French people who were just being polite. But then nine months after living in Europe I made a FRENCH friend. Sweet girl. She was so patient with me. She spoke little to no English and we were able to muddle through an evening of conversation and laughter because there was an understanding that we were teaching each other. It is because of Pauline that I can speak French with a certain level of ease. I love and thank her for it. Europe isn’t going anywhere, just know that fluency, actual fluency, being able to say what you mean and not making compromisises because you can’t muster the perfect word, that takes years. You can do it. You’re one of the most intelligent people I know. It’s hard, but god it’s worth it! You’ve done the right thing, throw yourself in the deep-end sans life jacket. But remember this when you feel like you might drown, as lonely as a conversation in German can be, there is another silly girl across the ocean who can’t go a single day without telling someone, anyone, “My friend Jackie, yeah she’s in Zurich right now. Yeah, she’s working for google. Like google google. Yeah I know. Dude, let me pull up her website. Haha oh it was already open on my phone….”

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