Thursday, July 26, 2007
Thinking About Moving
My wife and I have given some consideration to moving to Germany. My older son has lived there for 4 or 5 years and loves it, although he does miss home at times. Of course, he speaks the language fluently. My younger son has some skill with it as well. My wife and I struggle with "guten morgen," and "danke shoen" or nervously asking "Wo ist die toilette, por favor - er I mean, uh - what is it? - uh - bitte? Yeah, that's it - Wo ist die toilette, bitte?" - spoken triumphantly, and, of course, loud enough for all the people in the room to stop in their tracks to turn and stare at us. But I guess we could eventually pick up enough to get by over time.
But I'd really miss some uniquely "American" things which are generally difficult to get in Germany and elsewhere abroad. What would those things be, you might ask?
Well, these come to mind:
Tap water at restaurants.
Ice in drinks.
Stores open 24/7.
When we were in Vienna some years ago and a few years later in various parts of Germany, restaurant servers looked at us askance when any of us requested a glass of tap water. Bottled water is the rule. Tap water, verboten.
Soft drinks may be served chilled, but forget getting ice.
I could probably get along fine without a clothes dryer, but few people have them, or so I understand. My wife would more likely find that a bother, but I'm sure I'd miss the effects of the loving touch of those fabric softener dryer sheets. The liquid stuff you put in with the wash load just isn't the same.
I could also probably adjust to the lack of 24/7 shopping, but it certainly is convenient to go to, well - a convenience store - at midnight to get a gallon of milk, a can of coffee or a bag of whatever. Or to be able to go to a drug store and get something for that maddening itch or a serious case of the hoohaws.
Obviously, most of the above are, on balance rather piddling trifles.
Living without AC though, would be tough for this fat boy. The area of northern Germany where my son has been living has been extremely hot most of the summer. His apartment is on the top floor of his building with poor air circulation. He can't even find a fan, for whatever reason. The few occasions I've been obliged to spend a hot, humid summer night without AC have been hellish. With my having Apnea, a decent night's sleep is rare enough. Trying to do so without AC can be a nightmare.
Then there's the toilets. You world travelers probably know of what I speak. In Austria and Germany, where I have traveled, most of their toilets are designed with what is euphemistically referred to as "the shelf" which is high and dry. One does not truly appreciate the great job that the water in the bowl does for one's olfactory senses. I remember the glee with which I responded to finding American style toilets in a public restroom at the Grand Hotel in Vienna. Woohoo!
I know, I have exposed my very soul and revealed that I am a truly spoiled and predictably shallow American. What can I say? These are some of the things to which many Americans are accustomed. They are all part of the hallowed "American Dream."
After several days in Germany a couple of years ago I found myself wistfully envisioning myself sitting atop one of those wasteful American toilets, sipping a glass of ice water obtained straight from the tap (yeah, I know, it's a fairly disgusting vision) in my air conditioned suburban home while my clothes are spinning dry in the basement laundry room, contemplating a midnight run to the 24 hour Kroger Store for a pint of Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey.
Now THAT'S my America!
Just an additional note. Something weird happens to some of my paragraph divisions when I publish. I've tried to remedy the situation to no avail.
Oh, and one more note: We're not moving anywhere.