Tuesday, March 20, 2007


(This was written for an art installation in NYC by and about immigrants.)

The days preceding the flight were filled with preparations. It takes more than a little planning to leave a lifetime behind. This all-engaging busy work softened, delayed and muted just a little, the debilitating nostalgia raging inside me. When I stopped to think about what I was doing it was almost over-whelming. One late night I recalled my arrival as a young man in Manhattan. Soon I was lamenting walks not taken, conversations cut short, opportunities lost. Then I began reliving some of the walks and conversations and opportunities I did manage to realize during a life lived here and I don’t know which of the two imaginings was more difficult to endure.

When I left New York I had to flip a switch in my conscious mind, reject the grip that Manhattan still had on me and direct all my attention, interest and hope toward my new home; a country where I did not speak the language and in which I had never before harbored a notion of living.

We’re good at this we humans, finding ourselves in the arms of a stranger and rationalizing the situation with a hobbled but serviceable justification that allows us to keep moving forward. New York taught me how to love a city. It is an impossible act to follow and I won’t try to imagine a replacement.

“Love the one you’re with” is the Steven Stills lyric and it’s a helpful one. I left New York City for a small town in the Old World and I knew I would be miserable if I didn’t discover something to love about it and I have.

Much more to the point of my life today however, is the small person sleeping down the hall. He speaks this new language as well as his father’s and feels his home here and so therefore will I, and love the place I find. He is hope to me.

Copyright German Diary 2007