Culture

Breathing Room

The time that I was hoping for has finally come. Germany, you don’t scare me any more. Your cold and sometimes judgmental glances on the streetcar don’t unnerve me or make me self-conscious any more. Your polite but reserved ways of relating don’t rub me wrong any more. Even your efforts to squash all of my German with your English can’t stir me nowadays. I don’t know what changed. I certainly did nothing but cross my arms and pout for the past three months, so I can’t credit myself. One day Germany or I or both relaxed, not completely but to that crucial point at which one can start to breathe, at which one knows it’s going to be okay. It reminds me of having my blood pressure taken: the cuff is so tight that I think I might lose my arm but suddenly a bit of pressure lets out, and I know it’s only going to get better from there. There’s something deeply satisfying about this moment of the first relaxed breath.  In the future I’ll look back on it and wrongly attribute it to my excellent coping skills, but for now I can see it for what it really is—a gift. It’s funny that it came right about the same time that I was granted residency here. Maybe I’m not such a foreigner after all now. I have a certain not-so-temporary status. Even if I am still very foreign, I don’t care. At least my foreignness doesn’t weigh so heavily upon me now. Germany is inhabitable now.

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