Some days.


Some days, I think I could live here for a while. I mean, longer than the 20 weeks that I’m here. Days when I walk home from school in the fading sunlight at 7:30 while the streets grow quiet and the sun goes down and the man with the wrought iron balcony that hangs over the sidewalk waters his flowers, and I have to be careful to not get dripped on as I walk under his flower pots.

It’s just after I’ve eaten pizza with a friend on the sidewalk after class. It’s a beautiful, nearly-summer evening where I drop by my friend’s apartment to have some tea and chat for a bit. Then I go home, tired after a day of learning (after three weeks of vacation) and socializing. I eat chocolate, watch Parenthood, FaceTime with my mom, and go to bed.

Some days, Graz could be my home. The detailed architecture could decorate my walk to work. I could waltz down Sporgasse and get tripped up on the cobblestones over and over again. I could get my hair cut at the salon on the corner (after I learn a sufficient amount of German to tell them to be careful with the curls… I’m a little bit overprotective of my hair). I could meet my friends for dinner at the gasthaus. I could be a regular at Hofer (and would bring cash so they can’t deny me my groceries).

I could be a frequent Skyper. Some days I have two or three Skype conversations and think, yeah, this could be my life.

I could do that, some days.

Then there are the days where I miss the American perspective. I’m not even sure what that means, but it’s different. It’s just homey. Not better, not worse, but mine.

There are days where I wish I didn’t stick out as the “American” in my classes. There are days when I wish it was easy to communicate all the time, not just with my friend who are fluent in English or are native speakers. There are days when my family and friends feel so far, days when I don’t talk to any of them, when they’re asleep when I’m awake and no one seems to know how far away I am. There are days when I just want to have a job, to have work. Strange that I miss that.

There are days when I miss my car, when I wish I could fill her up with petrol and cruise down the highway or give her a bath in the driveway.

There are days when I think I couldn’t go longer than the four and a half months that I’ll be here. How do ex-pats do it?

The good thing is that this is where I am now, for 20 weeks, which I can handle. And I suppose only God knows where I’ll end up in the next few years. And that’s the person to know.

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My food people.


I wrote an article for RELEVANT, kind of hoping that they would snatch it right up and declare it the best piece they’ve ever had submitted. But alas, they already had an article on the same subject ready to go.

Oh well. Better results next time, perhaps.

So, instead I read my eyeballs out for American literature and wrote a short story while sitting on the deck on the third floor of my building. It’s sunny and in the high 60s today, which is a welcome introduction into spring weather. I think I got a little pink while I sat out there with my laptop, typing away about two old guys who are regulars at a coffee shop.

It’s probably not an amazing story, but sometimes you just have to sit down and write something that you might know a little something about, even if it’s mediocre. Because if you try to write something you know nothing about, then it will not only not be amazing, it might really stink.

Here’s the other news: we’re talking about what an American is in my American lit class. It’s funny because most of the people in there are European, so there’s a very different lens than I’m used to. Also, I’m realizing that I’m not sure what an American is. I’m not sure what we are historically or if you can even put a label on what is really “American.” I like what one of Dickens’ character who traveled a lot said; rather than being from a specific place, he was “a citizen of the world.”

I also like cookies. So I decided to bake some, because baking feels like home, even though all the tools and ingredients are foreign.

DSCN5515

Meet Austrian ingredients. Can you read any of that? Kudos if you can. Also note the recipe with grams as a measurement. WHAT?DSCN5519

The lovely dough balls, waiting to have a chemical reaction in the oven.DSCN5520Mother dough lump.

The after picture of the cookies is basically the same shape as the before picture. They weren’t anything particularly beautiful, but my flatmate said that they were “soooo good.” And I think I agree.

On the list of great food items of the past 24 hours: crêpes. Yes, crêpes. Made by a French person and eaten with French people. And a Canadian. And a West Virginian.DSCN5528

Photographic evidence of friendships. I think true friends eat together, and this group embraces that. We hadn’t even gotten up from the table before planning what we were going to eat together next.

Oh, I like food people.

 

Francis and the flag.


There are days when I’m proud of America.  I almost always tear up when anyone sings “The Star-Spangled Banner,” mostly because I love the line, “oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

If you were confused about why that question mark was at the end there, look again. It’s a question.  Francis Scott Key wanted to know if the flag that represented everything that the revolutionaries were fighting for still flew.  He wanted to know if the Americans or the British were victorious in the Battle of Baltimore.  He wanted to know if his freedom would be preserved. (Read the story behind the anthem here)

The flag still waves, but I’m not sure if it’s over the land of the free and the home of the brave, Francis.  I’m not sure if our nation looks like the one we revolted for.  I think freedom and courage are misunderstood concepts.  We seem to say that getting what we want and having fewer restrictions is real freedom.  I don’t know about that.  I’m also pretty sure that it takes more courage to stand against the crowd than to march with the masses.

Sometimes, Francis, I despair.  I want God to bless America, the land that I love.  I want our leaders to lead selflessly, to put peace first and prosperity lower on the list.  I want them to accurately represent their constituents and to have a balanced distribution of power.  I want money to be just another resource, not the force that drives everything we do.

Francis, sometimes it’s hard to be proud of America.  But there are Americans that I am darn proud of.  Women like Dawn who put God’s call to set the captives free above their own comfort and preferences.  I’m proud of my pastor for speaking truth even though it goes against the grain sometimes.  I’m proud of people who think before they act and make decisions based on facts rather than popular opinion.  I’m proud of educators who aren’t in it just for a job.  I’m proud of people who sacrifice excess and your typical definition of success for meaning and purpose.

The flag still waves, over a land where some are free and some are brave.

Even a minority is enough for now.  My prayer for America today is that we will actually live for truth and justice, making that the American way.