Friday, March 31, 2006

Homesickness Happens

I have been thinking about this post for days. It has been percolating in my head. I was not going to write it, because I hate offending people. I have this weird need to be liked by people. But then I thought, this is my blog. If you don't like it - get your own.

Expat wrote a wonderful post about not wanting to die in Germany. He was homesick and was reflecting on living in another country. He made a lovely point:

Life has been good to me just like the Joe Walsh song suggests…not “Bill Gates” good but good enough. Still, I don’t want to wind-up being a picture on a wall in Germany.

I was looking at the comments to this post and saw that some random guy, "Greg," had a few . . . shall we say . . . issues with the post. "You losers should go home . . . You don't know how good you have it." I started to think about whining, homesickness and going home. And then I realized that this random guy totally does not get it.

First, let me say that I actually like living in Germany. However, I am Navy Brat. I have moved my whole life. I learned quickly that you make your "home." Also, complaining about it 24/7 only makes it worse, so the best one can do is try to make the best out of it. My life's philosophy: When God gives you lemons, make lemonade.

When I moved to Germany in 2004 for the third time, it took a while to get used to the fact that I will most likely spend the rest of my days here. Language barriers are a problem. I don't care if you live in freeking paradise, not being able to speak your mother language can get frustrating. I speak fluent German, but when I am at family gatherings after a few hours I get tired. It is work. And I definitly find myself sometimes thinking that I have landed on another planet.

Nonetheless, I accept all of this. I love my husband. I enjoy my job. I try to have my home reflect my personality. That said, NO ONE can be happy and content 24/7 with their lifes choices. Not even someone on mood enhancing drugs. And anyone who tells you different, is lying - Greg.

Homesickness Happens. It does. Often in unexpected ways, at unexpected times. Last night the German and I were watching a Thanksgiving episode of Friends. Chandler was watching the Macy's Parade. I got a pang in my chest. I realized how much I miss that tradition. And for a brief moment I wanted the nearest airport. But then the German snuggled closer and I looked around at my semi-American apartment and it was okay.

So, if I want to write about those brief moments when I feel sad and / or alone. I will do it. It does not mean that I am complaining. I am reflecting on a moment. It will pass, but I will not deny my feelings. And that, Greg, does not make me a loser. I like reading blogs of expats, especially when they reflect on their own feelings about living here. It makes me feel normal to know that other people are going through the same thing. Also, I think that maybe we can try and help each other out. Get through the hard times in order to enjoy the good times.

Finally, it may be true. I may be loser. But I am a loser for other reasons. I am a loser because I watch Germany's Next Top Model while eating ice cream. I am a loser because I was the captain of the debate team in high school. Being human, Greg, does not make me a loser. So, as my Grandpa would say, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Read the post tprovokedoked this outburst:
My Expatriate Odyssey...Among other things: Life's been good to me, but...


christina said...

The very last thing you need to worry about is offending ol' Greg. :-) He's been on the expat blogging scene for quite a while now and his crude commenting style *never* changes. He wouldn't get it even if you poked him in the eye with it.

You just continue to write about how you feel, and the rest of us "losers" will do the same. You're right, there are pros and cons to living anywhere in the world and anyone who denies that is deceiving himself. Sometimes it's not our decision alone as to whether we stay or go. Most people understand that. A few, like Greg, don't.

Anonymous said...

Well said my dear. ya know I think there is this division in the blogging community between people who blog about things so as to get responses from an audience and those who blog simply because they like having a record of things. Part of the experience is feeling free to say whatever tweaks your fancy. If people don't like it, they don't have to read it :-) Greg sounds like a troll.

But I do take issue with the following:
1-" I am a loser because I watch Germany's Next Top Model while eating ice cream."
This cracked me up because I do the same thing watching weight loss shows. It is strangely comforting.

2-"I am a loser because I was the captain of the debate team in high school."
LMAO well I'd say that would make us more geeks than losers. At least that is what I like to tell myself.

Lisa said...

You're right on with your response, and yes, JAAE's post was fitting. I'm sure it's crossed everyone's mind now and again.

As for Greg, I've visited Greg's blog. It speaks for itself. 'Nuff said.

Dixie said...

I think there's a definite difference in bouts of homesickness and writing about them or speaking of things from home you miss and can't get here and making a near daily laundry list of things you don't like about where you live. I have to admit there are some expat blogs that feature at least once a week some sort of grousing about Germany or Germans and it gets to me. I just want to say "Germany is filled with Germans who operate in a manner that is customary for them so who are we to stroll in and say it's wrong? Do you not realize that Germans are not Americans (or Canadians or Swiss or Japanese or whatever) and are under no obligation to operate as though they are? Constant bitching about them is a waste of time.".

I'm not directing that at anyone in particular. It could just as easily be directed to me because I've done my share of complaining when things don't go in the manner in which I'm accustomed. It's the frequency though that is discouraging. And I have to say that frequent discussion about how crappy Germans act and how unfriendly they are is also discouraging. My husband is German. Your mates are German. Aren't we all somewhat insulting our own mates when we do that or do we just believe that we happened to marry the only decent ones?

I apologize if I'm coming across as being bitchy about this. I don't mean to be, especially since I find that expat bloggers are terrific folks and I'm happy to have gotten to know them.

Mike B said...

I'll stick with the rest of you "losers," but I'll eat my ice cream while watching the next expisode of 24.

Claire said...

Christina and Lisa: Thanks for the support! I suppose you can't please all the people all the time.

E!: You are right!! I am a geek, not a loser. And you need the ice cream, sweetie. You just had your tonsils out.

Dixie: I agree with you. Sometimes I comment on cultural differences because they are funny (i.e. saying hi to naked people). I usually kid becuase I love. My German will NEVER be like an American. And that is why I love him. I try to embrace difference. It makes life interesting.

Your comment was toughtful and resonable and doesn't resort to name calling. I like that. Name calling is immature, not to mention unproductive and not condusive to diaolgue. That is one reason I don't watch things like Crossfire and Meet the Press. That said . . . I think Bill O'Reilly is on crack.

Mike: I think we are a good group. Welcome. I can never get into 24. If you miss an epsiode you can be totally lost. I am always like, "Who's that? Why is he there? What is he doing?" It is like when the German watches the Academy Awards with me.

Haddock said...

I think you have put into words what I have felt many times.....I'll just leave it at thatt :)

Berlinbound said...

Very thoughtful post ... very.

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