Monday, June 23, 2008

Getting the Hang of It

This is a video clip from Ira Glass's storytelling series. You should watch it.

Did you watch? Most of you probably did not. That's OK, but really, you should go back and watch it because he tells his story much better than I do.

If you still haven't watched it, the gist is that it's OK to keep doing something (specifically television but let's just stretch Ira's description a bit and extend it to, you know, whatever you want to do) you're not sure you are good at, and you shouldn't give up hope that you'll get better. Sometimes it just takes a really long time.

Three years ago, I quit my job and we sold our house in a lovely neighborhood in the Pacific Northwest. We had a huge garage sale and lived in a hotel for a couple of days while we watched New Orleans drown on CNN. Our families wished us well and we flew to Germany. I cried in the middle of the night because I was jetlagged and bored and Jeff started a new job. We finally found an apartment after searching for far too long, and then I baked cookies.

Even years later, after hours of German lessons and the World Cup and trying to make my own Mexican food and surviving childbirth and making some friends, I had resigned myself to feeling like a fish trying to ride a bicycle most of the time, just waiting until I had the opportunity to jump back into a familiar pond.

Now, it's time to jump. We're headed back to America later this summer. Jeff has a new job, our residency permits are expiring, and we're shopping for houses and cars and dreaming of cheeseburgers. The decision to move wasn't terribly difficult, but our reactions once we'd made it surprised both of us. While we are glad to be headed back to the familiar and especially back to our families and friends, we're still working on getting excited. It's going to be exactly the same as we remember and completely different too.

I'm sure it's no accident that I've suddenly looked around and realized that although I never thought it would happen, I've finally gotten the hang of living here.


G in Berlin said...

Wow. I feel like I'm just getting to know you and that now you are gone:(. But I'm glad that you are hapy to be heading back. Will you return to the PNW?Btw, love that 1 big picture site.

G in Berlin said...

Oh, and the video was neat. I looked at the others as well.

Nicole said...

Congrats on your decision. It's a Big Deal to move back, at least we found it to be. We've been back in the U.S. for almost four years now (unbelievable!) and I still wonder most days if we made the right choice. Life in the "home country" is seductively easy--baby changers in every bathroom and English spoken everywhere--but sometimes I think it's too easy. When I was in Prague, I felt like I learned something new every single day--even if I didn't do anything more than take a walk to the local corner store. There was always something to navigate.

But I meander.

I'll look forward to reading your reactions to the move back. Best of luck with the move.

Anonymous said...

Oh my Blythe - you and I have been on almost parallel paths. We moved to Germany in 1.06, had a baby girl in 12.06 and just moved back to the U.S. in April :)

Like you, totally mixed emotions about the return. You hit on a lot of thoughts that I had about living in Germany, what it feels like to actually know your moving back etc.... Not speaking the language was so handicapping for me. But we had a nice simple life while there, traveled tons and of course anytime there is any kind of closure it's sad.

I'm excited for you though :) Enjoy what's left of the summer for me - I loved summers over there! The humidity here SUCKS.

PS - first time saying hi...

Anne said...

Oooh look we're moving home at the same time. You can never go back to where you were and that is a little unnerving, isn't it? Good luck. How are you finding getting quotes from the movers?

Meg said...

I can guarantee Brian and I haven't changed much. We still act like college kids (well, me mostly), we still miss you and we are thrilled you'll be back in our neck of the woods. Nacho dinner party when you get back?

EuroTrippen said...

Well you already know I'm going to miss you. You've done some incredibly brave things while you've been here (I can't imagine having a baby with a language barrier!), and it's been a real pleasure getting to know you- both through your writing and our not-so-frequent get togethers. For any stumbling you might have done over the past few years, you absolutely got the hang of it, and you'll both be missed AND leave a void once you're gone.

Crap, I should've saved all that for Friday night! It would have made one hell of a toast. Oh well... timing's never been my thing.

And just remember, Europe will always be here... patiently waiting.

Blythe said...

G-Don't worry, the magic of the internet means I'm leaving, but I'm not really leaving. (I really like that Ira Glass series too.)

Nicole-Thanks. You've articulated what I've been feeling - some days I can't wait to leave a life where everything, every day, is so damn complicated. Other days, I am sad to know I will no longer feel such a sense of accomplishment every day for the smallest of reasons.

Jen-Thanks for stopping by! I have a love/hate relationship with the summers here, but right now it's really lovely. It feels nice to depart with memories of Germany is at its prettiest.

Anne-Yes, I'm clinging to you for inspiration. At least Theo doesn't have to learn Irish, right? And let's not talk about the movers and our 3rd floor apartment with no lift.

Meg-NACHOS? I am there.

Eurotrippen-It has been a pleasure to get to know you too. I never imagined I would get comments from people I didn't know, and you were one of the first. You've played a big part in making the internet a community I enjoyed being a part of. Now let's go eat some Indian food and drink beer.

tqe / Adam said...

I'm sad to see you leave, but I look forward to hearing what it's like to readjust.

missbeegail said...

Ira Glass, so wise and so strangely sexy. I almost always start feeling comfortable with something just as I decide to leave it. Good luck with the move and keep writing!

Chantelle said...

Well, I hope you keep blogging. We head back to the States in three weeks and I am a big messy mix of excited,happy, sad, worried and some other stuff.
Here's to a healthy readjustment for all of us!
And I am now off to be a good girl and watch the clip.

C N Heidelberg said...

Wow, big news!! I wish you a pleasant move and transition!

Snooker said...

I'll be interested to read more about your adjustment to life back on the other side of the pond.

Anonymous said...

I'm so excited to be having you back. I will say even with moving out of our house for a remodel, I got glossy-eyed packing up Gia's nursery. I'm sure you will have a similar experience with Theo's first home.