Diary of an Ex-Expat, Part 2
Reflections in brief
Berlin is where I live and work. It is where my postal address is. Two weeks back in the States, however, has taught me well enough that, I suppose, the US is still probably closest to where I feel home. I will evangelise Berlin to the ends of the Earth: it is a tremendous place, full of tremendous people. But I think that when I retire, I will be skipping back to the foothills of Colorado.

I'm trying to decide whether or not I am apprehensive about my impending return to Berlin. No, I think — it will be good to be back in my apartment and to a sense of routine. It will be good to walk down Torstrasse and cross the Spree River. It will be good to visit my favorite haunts again.

I think for a time I am likely to miss certain elements of America — in particular, I suspect I'm going to spend a few days with my ear to the ground, listening for American accents. It is really hard to overstate how nice it is to be able to understand what's going on around you at any given time. My lack of German fluency is going to be painful, when I return, and it's going to take me some time to adjust, to be sure.

I'm also going to miss driving, at least for a little while. Not forced driving; that's terrible, and I think that people really ought to take public transport to work, or "commute" by walking (an excellent opportunity to get your head clear). But skimming over winding mountain roads on a gorgeous winter day with a crystal-clear sky and the insistent howl of an engine in its power band, kicking you by the seat of your pants along hairpin turns where the road practically begs you to make the most of every inch of asphalt — this isn't a uniquely American sensation, of course, but I don't own a car and it's hard to imagine a point at which I will.

On the other hand, my absence from the country has made me reasonably certain that I'm comfortable in Berlin: it's an easy city to feel vaguely localish in. So perhaps I have adapted, and all my pontifications here will come to naught, stepping off the aeroplane at Tegel.

When I started writing these diaries, it was my goal to be clear-headed about what Berlin is and is not to me, and to capture the good along with the bad. Looking back over them, I feel that I've done this. On the other hand, what comes through most clearly is less any sense of tone than the realisation that 2011 was, effectively, a lost year for me. Apparently, without my looking, I spent four months in a foreign country, and I can't really put my finger on the passing of any given day. It's all a blur.

I'm keeping this short because, to be honest, I don't have a lot to say. It was a blur of a week here, too; American food, American movie theatres, American shopping. I've tried to steep myself in it, so that I don't feel like I've missed anything.

Of course, next week's diary will have the topic: "Things I totally forgot to do when I was back in the US, damn it."
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