Saturday, January 13, 2007

Change ...

It’s been a year since I left New York and settled here in Cologne. A lot has happened in that year, some of it practical and tangible some of it invisible and it’s the invisible changes that I’ve been thinking about lately.

During my first months here everything was fresh and strange and therefore even the commonplace events of daily life were interesting. Not unlike a new relationship, there is a honeymoon phase when your new lover or location can do no wrong. Of course there are also situations where a new relationship falls apart completely once you learn what your new mate does with his dirty clothes at night or how abysmal a cook s/he is or any of a number of more critical day-to-day habits or character traits that grate to the point of breaking.

I’m happy to say my first year in Cologne was almost entirely positive. There were the odd run-ins with grumpy Germans who chastised me for not learning the language fast enough. But now, after sitting attending language school for endless hours and after class for more hours with tutors and developing a fairly constant headache that I attribute directly to the power surge in my brain caused by all these new and really large German words, I realize how ridiculously difficult the language actually is and I don’t care if someone gives me grief for not speaking it well enough. I will continue my classes, my ongoing struggle with late-in-life language acquisition and I’ll do it at my own pace – thank you very much.

With the New Year celebrations behind me, I’ve started to emerge from my honeymoon with Cologne and it is becoming more difficult to discern my feelings about this new world, perhaps because it is no longer a new world, it has become my world. My feelings are more complex and at the same time hidden from me, the experiences of each day are less dramatic, routines have begun to develop. There is no longer that sharp relief that comes from comparing each new experience with those you recently left behind. I’ve begun to take different routes to and from common destinations and find myself standing at the street corner long after the light has changed watching people, looking up at the sky, searching for I don’t know what, meaning perhaps or something recognizable or maybe, for something new.