Diary of an Ex-Expat, Part 4
Back in the States again! Yay!
This will be a short one, because I've had a busy day and I'd like to get to bed. Also I don't really have much to say about Germany. Why's that?

So this update comes to you not from Germany but from the wilds of the United States, which is, in any case, where I am from. I'm on vacation next week, and I flew back to the States Thursday evening, so I've had about a day to acclimate to things.

My bank account, for example, has not; Deutsche Bank, like (evidently) all German banks, has decided that you should not be able to use your debit card outside of the country without lifting some ephemeral lock; needless to say I discovered this after DB had closed for the evening, and there is no way to do that from their website.

So that's fun! But what about being back home in general? I mean, besides living in a place that has, unlike Berlin, made the appropriate sacrifices to the sun god. It's nice to be able to go out without an umbrella.

As always, the first thing that strikes you about the US is how incredibly car-focused it is. Journeys that I would ordinarily make by walking or biking in the Berlin feel perverse, here, and everything is oriented around driving. Drive-thru restaurants, drive-thru liquor stores, drive-thru banks; presumably there are drive-thru brothels, somewhere.

I haven't driven a car in eight months. As it turns out, it isn't something you forget, and I suppose that biking in Berlin has given a certain degree of situational awareness that carries over in a useful way. But there have been a few times in the last couple days when I've really missed not having the ability to just walk to a story. Or any store, really.

Also, I had forgotten about the obsequiousness of American customer service folk. I had forgotten that it's expected that you make small-talk with a cashier who does not really care about your purchases, and that servers are encouraged to hover, in the fashion of fruit flies, about your table. I'm not sure exactly that I really prefer this to the clinical transactionalism of Berliners.

I've gone back and forth, over the last eleven months, as to whether or not I feel like I'd wind up settling down in the United States or Germany. Coming back to the US doesn't clarify it nearly as much as I thought it would.

Wednesday I went sailing on a lake down south-east of Berlin, and getting between the city and the countryside proved to be a wonderfully interesting contrast. I've said before that Berlin reminds me a lot of Portland; getting out of the urban area is similarly a lot like rural Oregon — small farms, trees, a lot of lakes. Very quiet towns, which I suppose in European context we refer to as "villages" because it sound more quaint.

There are definitely times that I think I could stay in Germany forever. And I presume that I have at this point been there long enough for the euphoria of initially moving there to have worn off? But that's a topic for another day.
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