A Day in the Life of an Expat: Shields Up!

by Rebecca A. Watson on January 27, 2015

in expat, writing

Beyonce’s Run the World: Girls blares through my headphones as I close the door to my apartment. Do I even need to lock it? I wonder. All doors in Germany seem to lock the second they shut. We’ve always got to remember our keys.

Half-aware, I exit the main entrance of the house and walk to the gate. Two ladies stand in front of my house chatting. I squeeze by them as I catch the eye of a man on his bicycle.

He smiles and waves. I start to smile but hold it back — better not to give him the wrong idea. Not like that’s much of an issue here.

My heels clack to the rhythm of the Rihanna’s Hard and my hips follow. My first pair of heels since 2011. I feel like bitch Goddess Lilith, I think. Maybe I should wear them more often, but this thought’s interrupted by the twist of my ankle over a fountain grate.

Not quite the grace I was hoping for.

yellow heels

And to think I used to dance in these!

I continue, knowing the Straßenbahn is on its way. I don’t want to arrive late. I need to eat my clementine.

I keep the music blaring as I run across the street, breaking the law and the social norm of waiting for the green man. I rush through the tram doors and grab a seat; my gaze fixes out the window.

It’s days like this I need the pop to cancel out all the conversations, all the thinly veiled comfort I wear like an ill-fitting jacket — sitting on a foreign tram, pretending to fit in, pretending to be at ease, pretending I’m one of them.

(I shouldn’t even use the phrase Days like this. That would imply I know why they come and when to expect them.)

Some days it’s not pretend, but today it’s so phony I can taste it, like the sausage I quickly ate on my way here. See, I’m trying to assimilate!

I’m glad to be going to the workshop, but I don’t realize why until I sit down and hear English. And not just any English — American. The workshop takes place in an institute that celebrates my country.

In any other year of my life, this would not really matter, but since 2013 (really, 2013?) I’m suddenly a patriot. Some days I cringe to hear what I’m loving tonight.

“You can sit here.”

“Good job.”

“Has anyone ever been to Oregon?”

Nothing material. Nothing of substance, but still the comfort blankets me, and I don’t need Spotify’s playlist to run away from a life I excitedly chose.

But that’s today. Tomorrow I’ll probably sneer at the American tourists lining up at the McDonalds that mars Martinstor, the old city gate where they used to burn witches.

mcdonalds freiburg

For now, though, they are part of my Top 40 Wonderland.

This is part of my 2015 goal to write more and differently. If you want to read more about that, click here.

Photo Credit: sbamueller

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