Yup, that’s me, an American, born and bread in Cascadia to Rebulican consumerist parents (who are really awesome and quite generally frugal). I grew up feeling quite liberal, and despite all that my father has said, that people (Americans) become traditionally more conservative as they get older, I still (so far) have remained rather liberal. I don’t like to align myself with either party, that being said when Bush Jr was running the first time, I declared myself a Dem (Democrat). I think, however, that the Republicans are religiously self-righteous bullies and the left seem to be meek little geeks waiting to get their lunch money stolen by the right. It is frustrating to see from afar and I can see why so many of my friends, colleagues and neighbors from back there have a tendency to ignore it. As I explained in my first post, with age comes more and more responsibility and what seems like at times, a more restrictive way of handling all that responsibility, perhaps that is just me though in the mental/physical space I am currently in.
So, what does it mean for me to be an American today, especially living in Europe? Who cares, right? Well lets see, to begin with, my husband and I basically live off of one income here, which I do not think we would be able to do in America we would likely be living in poverty or off credit if we attempted to live like this back home. Mind you we cannot pay all of the bills in America that we should because of this one income (namely his student loans and mine) but, we are able to not necessarily worry if we will be able to eat or pay for heating or rent, whereas, if we were in America we may or may not be a single-income family but we would absolutely be tied to work either way.
My mother came to visit, after I had been living in Europe for roughly four months and kept asking me if I “was happy, really happy?” at the time it infuriated me because I was struggling with language and cultural barriers but, yeah I was, so why keep asking? I just didn’t understand. Is it not normal to go through various levels of culture shock when living in a foreign country? My sister has been clean off drugs (Chrystal Meth) for almost 12+ years (Go Her!!). The closest thing I can liken culture shock to, in a way, is AA/NA (Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous), in that if you are working the steps, there is no prescribed set of time for you to get through ‘it’ or them. It’s not like after four months I can speak perfect German and know everything about Europe and blah, blah, blah. I just didn’t get it. I felt like maybe she was projecting. That visit was hard, which was really strange as my mother and I had ALWAYS gotten along before, with the exception of my horrible pre-teen to teen years where I was especially ruthless to her for no apparent reason other than my hormones were completely wonky and making me possessed, like Linda Blaire in the Exorcist and disgusted with all things ‘adult’, especially if it came from either of my parents. I just didn’t know what was going on with that whole mix (of passive-aggressiveness, fallen hopes and ideals, disappointments, fiancés and/or 13-year-old-nephews to look out for), who knows. And to this day neither one of us has talked to the other about it and let me tell you, it made for a very awkward wedding with lots of saving face!
Anyway, I digress – this was supposed to be about being an American, living in Europe or more specifically Germany. So, let’s get back to culture shock, as I have all the time in the world (later) to talk about how I strongly feel like the odd one out in my family, we’ll save that for another post. …And so, aww shit, nevermind!