Local colo(u)r

A tall man, old, with a long white beard and Amish black hat, plucks cans from our dumpster every week with a modified fishing pole, looking like nothing so much as a heron dipping into a lake for fish. Our cute older neighbor lady, who wears teal pantsuits and granny shoes, drives a red sportscar with a COEXIST bumper sticker that makes our minivan appear even frumpier by comparison. Families with abundantly adorable children, many of whom are chucked into the slummy daycare behind our apartment complex during the week and whose happy shrieks wake us up on weekend mornings, are always out and about now that the weather is fine. Life is exuberant again after a bottled-up winter.

The number of kids in the vicinity make the apparent abundance of crime sad rather than mildly amusing. Last night, as we smoked a celebratory Camel Light with some celebratory friends on the front walk, three muscly young men hurdled through the parked cars and careered past us and into the night. We could practically feel the guilty sweat fly off of their skin, they passed so close. One lone policeman wielding a flashlight of truth and justice (I believe his name was Diogenes – good luck with that around here, dude) followed not far behind, unsure of which way they’d went. Quick dilemma – to narc, or not to narc? One of our companions WHO DOESN’T LIVE HERE, RIGHT WHERE ANYONE CAN LOOK IN OUR WINDOWS AND SEE WHERE THE STOOL PIGEONS ARE, told the cop where they’d gone, and we’ve been triple-locking our door ever since.

Okay, fine, we actually always triple-lock our doors. We’re not afraid at all, or grudge-bearing. Just neurotic. Okay, again: it’s just me.

I’ve been obsessively locking my door since the year I spent in Germany. I lived alone in student housing on the seventh story of a place called Waldhaus with a bunch of other foreigners and a swarm of silverfish. The lights operated by sensors, so I always stepped into complete dark from the elevator and waited several seconds for the lights to flicker on. Hence the safety neurosis. I’ve been gearing myself up to write about my time in Germany since, frankly, I haven’t got much to say when I get home from work these days. Sure, I chatter like an idiot, but the conversation usually goes like this:

Me: And then I did this, and then I did this, and then I did this, and then the customer’s credit card declined – can you IMAGINE?

Tolerant Husband (after thirty minutes of the above): Oh sweet Jehoshaphat, kill me now.

Fascinating stuff, but I’d like to give you a little more in the content department. The unsubtle comments and personal threats from family and close friends suggest that my year abroad would serve as good fodder.  You deserve fair warning, however. It was a bad year, the worst of my life. I changed from a mostly happy person who was occasionally depressed to what I am now, a mostly depressed person who is occasionally happy. I’m getting better. I don’t intend to do any soul-searching, self-loathing, self-pitying junk – just stick to the facts, ma’am – but I assume it’ll somehow come out along the way. Better you know now, if you didn’t already.

It wasn’t all bad. I had a tremendous year. Though it’s the one thing in my life I would absolutely change if I could, I can’t. Suck it up, Z. I got to travel all over, I made friends with people from Russia to China to Palestine to South Korea to Australia, my German was pretty sweet when I got home (uh…don’t ask me to speak it now, bitte schön), and I got to do something that most people never get the chance to do.

I’d like to share it with you, if you don’t mind.

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~ by themeansister on May 5, 2009.

One Response to “Local colo(u)r”

  1. Well I sure don’t mind, and thanks for asking! More Germany stories!

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