T, J and I sit around the kitchen table Monday morning. When I entered the kitchen an hour ago, I was offered kaffee und früstuck. I sat and listened to their conversation in Deutsch. I could make out that they discussed, Nazis, politics, history, cultural observations. It is not at all uncomfortable for me, these situations of not understanding everything that is being said. I trust and feel accepted by the people I am around, and it is good for me to be able to pick out words that I recognize and try to piece sentences and ideas out of the few verbs, nouns and adjectives that are familiar to me. Eventually J turns to me and asks, "Do you understand what we are talking about?"
They speak in English a bit and I join the conversation. Somehow, we begin talking about insults. "Douchebag is the best one in English." I say.
"What is this? J asks. I explain what a douche is. T translates a little into German. (These are my favorite types of translation scenes, the ones that are always about something slightly taboo. The German culture, I feel, is not so prudish, so there is rarely shock value involved.)
"It is a medical device?" J asks me.
"Nein, it is for 'freshness,' so your vagina smells like a field of daisies."
Slightly bewildered, she turns to T, reiterating what I have said , but in German.
"Ja," T confirms that she has heard right. "I hear this on 'The Sopranos' a lot. I can never figure out what they mean. I always thought it was a type of bag you put water in to pour over yourself."
I laugh. The German word for shower is Dusch, so I understand the error. I imagine a German tourist driving through America, hearing the term "Douchebag," and wondering why we all talk about portable showers in such a negative way.
I start my German classes in a little less than a month.
I am excited to sink my teeth into the language in a booklearning way.
The other night, in a desperate attempt to make Deutsch sprachen more a part of mein Leben, I watched 'Bad Teacher' dubbed in German. I didn't understand most of the dialogue, but the plot was not so hard to figure out.
It is a blessing and a curse that the people I know speak such marvelous English. A blessing because we can speak about abstract and important things. I have the opportunity to develop deep understanding with people. There is an opportunity to make close friends. It is a curse because I have been here a month and a half and still have great difficulty speaking Deutsch. But I will start school. I will learn enough of the basics to be able to learn more. I have stopped caring about grammatik, speaking correctly. If someone can understand what I am saying, this is enough.
And with moving to my new environment, I have place myself around people who want to speak more German with me because the y want to speak with me! I am at a truly blessed place in my life. How long will it last? I don't know, but it seems with my move to Kreuzburg, I have had an explosion of positivity in my life. Tobi and I have long conversations about the mind, culture, media, ourselves, love, relationships, everything at the round kitchen table in the day or night with more and more frequency. I have developed a strong connection with a man named R also. We sit up until 6 in the morning talking about ourselves, our pasts, sharing music and youtube videos. R, like J, has been a perpetual student of Psychology in a Masters' program in Berlin for the past decade but has become disenchanted with the program. The mind on this guy is pretty fantastic as is his ability to communicate emotion and show vulnerability. We discuss the psyche in abstract and also how it pertains to ourselves. He opens himself to me, possibly afraid but doing it anyway. for this he has gained my utmost respect.
I also have landed a job as a babysitter/nanny for a 2 and a half year old child. The mother is single, American and a sculptor. I will be doing four overnights next week because C (the mother) has to go to Belguim to work on a large scale iron sculpture she is designing. I am nervous but excited for this. It is good to work. It makes me know I live here. I am not just passing through. I am also doing some figure modeling for a drawing class tomorrow and sometimes walking a very bad dog in Wedding, which is too far away from my liking. I will let the dog walking go soon, but not yet.
I have stopped fretting about immigration for a moment, but need to start focusing on this again soon. I cannot go to the Auslanderbehörde until early December, close to the time my Schengnen visa expires. Until then, I will focus on getting everything in order. I am getting quite a bit of help from friends and family here and in the States, and for this I am so grateful!
Don't get me wrong. Life is not easy in Berlin. I am terrified a lot. It is not an easy, luxurious dreamland here, but I do not feel as hopeless as I did in San Francisco, and I appreciate that the communication between people here is more direct and to the point. No one here is perfect. The culture here is not perfect, but for me, right now, it really works, and I don't question it too much.