Woche Sechsunddreissig: A Rock and a Hard Place

This week's expat chat: being stuck in the middle and also an un-tethered balloon, floating along.

Pierre Bonnard's The White Cat at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. Also, how I feel half the time.

Pierre Bonnard's The White Cat at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. Also, how I feel half the time.

I'm about to get very messy with metaphors. But first, I really feel that cat right now.

While I'm here, I get a very 'untethered balloon feeling.' I can't think about my situation too much or I freak out. I'm kind of homeless (using my parents' address for official legal purposes and voting, States work address for some stuff, German apartment address for others). While I have a job for me back home once this year is over, I don't know what it is. Here in Germany, outside of work and my non-English-speaking neighbor, I don't know anyone here. 'Anyone here' as in this city, this country, this continent. I only kind of have an idea of what I would do if something really terrible happened. An entire ocean is between me and my family and friends. My life is dramatically different than it was a year ago and it will be dramatically different again in a year. There are people I used to talk to every day that I email maybe once a week now. On the other hand, the people I see every day here, I probably won't see them again. Any time I go somewhere, I wonder, is this the last time I'm at this place? I've discovered several places I really believe I'll return on some future European trip (Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, London). Other places? I liked Hamburg and Dresden, but I can't imagine purposefully traveling to these places. It's a bizarre, ethereal feeling.

Untethered balloon, right?

My other feeling is very much 'rock and hard place.' Part of my current role makes me a liaison between the two sites (my original site in the States and my current German site). And while I'm addicted to US politics right now, I do not appreciate office politics. And suddenly it's a big part of my job. I don't belong to the German site but I don't really belong to the States site any more either. People ask me which site I'm at and the answer is, it depends. I'm paid through the States but my email is German. My benefits and my boss are American, but my insurance and residency is Deutsche.

I think if this was a longer assignment, I would be more focused. This is where I'm at the next three years, the next five years. Instead, it's this weird, fractured thing, part of me making the most of my time here, another part counting down the time I have left, the time to when I can start my 'real life.' Wherever I land next year, I'm putting down an anchor, growing roots, building something on rocks. Pick a metaphor.