Diary of an Ex-Expat, Part 5
Happiness in the present tense
Americans are a somewhat loud and shouty people. You encounter this, for example, if you ever need to drive anywhere. Or if you turn on the television and discover that there appears to be a presidential election coming up.

From the outside, American politics looks to me — as it looks to many Europeans — a lot like what we would call a clusterfuck. It's also loud, and also shouty, and it doesn't seem to be going in a particularly optimistic direction.

It's hard for me to tell whether or not I care. After a year in Berlin, I haven't really connected to German/European politics, but I do seem to have disengaged from the American political sphere. I suppose, like my German coworkers and acquaintances, I'm not really invested in who will win, and I don't really think it will make any difference.

It's not worth shouting about, anyway.

I don't really care for that, and maybe that's why I've spent as much time as possible out of the city of Denver proper. I find this to be reassuring — these days increasingly I'm looking more for quiet in my life. It's the same reason why I spend my time in Berlin wandering around parks.

Of course, there aren't so many of those here. Indeed, Americans don't seem to do much walking at all. Eastern Denver is largely a series of shopping malls connected by carbon monoxide emissions and abraded rubber. I spent some time walking around what passes for an open-air mall in America and was struck by how that pedestrian culture just doesn't exist here, at all.

So that's something I'm looking forward to enjoying again. I'm looking forward to seeing a city without the filter of a windshield. It's the minor trappings of Berlin that I miss when I'm not there — the greenery, the meandering side-streets, the skyline, the old buildings.

In short I find, I think, that Berlin feels like an emotional home for me — whenever I'm out wandering, and I come back to Tegel Airport, the little sign that welcomes you back to the country never fails to be tremendously heartening.

On the other hand, the United States is, I think, still my spiritual home. There's something that feels very comforting about it. Some of it's simple things — waking up and hearing the radio come on in a language you understand; routes and restaurants and routines that you know by heart.

The net effect of this is that I can't imagine being anywhere other than Berlin now, and I can't imagine being anywhere other than the United States in the future.

Just, maybe after November.
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