I don't remember.

I caught myself looking at two pictures that I have in my room - one taken the day of my sister's high school prom (so I was a freshman in h.s.) and the other ... I think at someone's wedding several years ago. But I just don't remember. And I don't remember him: my dad.

The memories I have seem so few when I try to recall them, and when I have a moment in mind that should pertain to him, it's just a faceless individual. It's like I'm looking at a stranger, just trying to make it all make sense. I know that I can remember some moments or words or even feelings that happened years ago, but it's all very abstract - like it never happened, like I haven't lived a bit of it.

It has been over three years since my dad died, and for the most part, I feel nothing. I am saddened when I think about the life he is missing, the pride he is missing in watching and being present in the significant moments in my sister's and my lives. But I don't miss him - the person. It's like I don't even know him or that he was never even alive.

(I don't know. It all doesn't make much sense in my head, so why would any of it make sense using confining, limited words.)

But see, that to me hurts more. Not that my father is not here, but that he doesn't exist in my memories. In fairness though, my memories don't really exist in my memory. Chronology is a terribly difficult thing for me to grasp.

"Was it a year ago? No? Ten years ago? Really? Wow."
"What happened last week you ask? I know I did something."
"What did I eat on Monday? When was Monday?"

It is strange because in grade school, I was very good at those memory games. Maybe the physical stress I purposefully put my body through over the years is taking its revenge.

I must say, this kind of scares me a bit. I feel like I need to hold on to photos or samples of my middle school writings or journals or calendars because without them, I will not have a past. What happens to life without a past?

Maybe it hurts worse because Christmas is oh so very quickly approaching and that doesn't even feel real. This is new territory; though I suppose each step in life is new ... and yet incredibly familiar. Or maybe it's because this Christmas feels just as real as that first Christmas without him.


becoming German-minded

I don’t know if I’ll ever be a true German. Don’t get me wrong, now – I am well on way to integrating, but there are several things that restrict my full conversion.

As for products and shopping, I am golden. All of my bath products and kitchen supplies and food (minus the handful of spices that I love that I brought from the U.S.) have German labels and instructions. I am learning the metric system, especially volume, when I use my mL measuring cup. I am now aware of my German shoe and pants/skirt sizes (which seems like too large of a number since I am use to the single-digit numbers from the U.S.). I have also traveled around on my own, navigating transportation, site-seeing, eating out, etc. to various places inside Stuttgart and other cities. So what’s holding me back? Mein Kissen/my pillow. The standard bed pillow size is 80cm x 80cm. That is 992 sq. inches of pillow surface. This is one crazy awkwardly large size. I probably use 10% of the floppy thing. Why would one make this standard?

Okay, obviously that’s not a real reason.

Living a separate, private life is a very German cultural custom placed in high importance. I too enjoy it, but I must resist. I know me. I know how I respond, react, or initiate. At first arrival to my flat and the town which I call home and upon learning about the rules pertaining to the student flat, I wanted to move out. (I use “Student flat” as opposed to the U.S. term of dormitory because it’s more like a shared apartment keeping in true German style of high privacy as a necessity.) I have lived in an apartment by myself for the majority of time since the 2nd year of college. Even growing up, I had my own room. I like having my own space that I can put holes in walls and paint and make my own. I like being separate and away. And because I know me and what I prefer, I also know this is not the best solution.

If I moved, I would most definitely move out of this retirement suburban community of MÓ§hringen and into Stuttgart proper. I like city life and the noise and the people watching opportunities. This would mean moving quite a ways from nearly all of my fellow classmates/new friends. If this were so, I would almost entirely shut myself off from social interactions and sink into a depression if left up to my own devices. So I have decided to work against my nature and hang around here. Advantage: actual life with multi-national friends and my sanity. Disadvantage: little to do in MÓ§hringen, have to decorate using sticky-backed hooks instead of nails, and little reliance on German because English is the common language. The extremely high commission to a 3rd party renter agency paid on behalf of the renter (as opposed to the free service provided in the States) also aided in my decision to stay put … for now.

There's also this thing in Germany called Winter, which I've been told lasts 4-5 months. But I think this is just a hoax.