The Bald Eagle
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Never - A Personal Testimony
I had lived in the United States of America twenty three years. Having traveled extensively inside of the United States, my curiosity drove me––at the age of twenty-four–– to set out and cross the Atlantic Ocean and live in Europe as a soldier in the United States Army.
Flown across such a large body of water,
Lived in a foreign country,
Eaten a different cuisine,
Drunk bottled mineral water with gas,
I landed in Frankfurt, Germany on October 23rd and experienced immediate culture shock. I had
Never been eight thousand miles away from family and friends,
Never intermingled with different cultures,
And for the first time ever, I was surrounded by people who I did not understand. The languages palpitating against my ear drums were German, French, Spanish, and British English: I desperately wanted to board a plane and return to what I thought of as the real world.
My very first day was an unforgettable day that I will never forget. Of all the years Germany had to choose from to hit record temperatures, it had to be on the day I arrived–– snow and ice covered the ground; branches were hanging off of tree limbs that were about to break, and the wind chill was worst than a windy day in Chicago.
Sandals on my feet,
Sleeveless shirt covering my upper body,
Thin pair of pedal pushers on my bottom,
The freezing, cold wind was trying to pick me up and carry me as I hurriedly walked through the open air terminal of Rhein Main Air Force Base. It was ten degrees celsius––below zero––and I thought,
If someone had told me that I had just passed through the portal that would systematically, step by step, obliterate, and restructure my small itsy-bitsy world, I would have screamed,
Yet, it happened, and the Never in my life has been dwindling away into nothingness ever since. Where once I said Never to indicate that I would not bulge or change my attitude or my behavior, or my way of doing things, I now interpret my Never quite differently. I wake up in the mornings saying,
Nevertheless, just do it, Patricia,
Never say never, Patti,
Never mind the front door being closed, the back door is still open, just walk through it, Pat.
Never had I thought I would,
Learn two foreign languages and be able to converse lightly in two others,
Eat Knoedels, or Tortellini, or Paella, or Corned Beef with Kidney with enjoyment,
Listen to Folk Music, visit the Opera in Verona, or attend an open air Rock festival,
Be expose to fear and anxiety through bomb threats and find a normalcy despite the angst,
But I have.
It is the Never in my life that challenges me to keep moving forward, and as I conquer it I adjust to change.
What about your Never?
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Oh my Dear Patricia, you are so wise and wonderful. Facing our fears is life changing and makes us stronger. I can see you have grown and bloomed.ReplyDelete
I never thought I would be a divorced, single mother but I was. I learned real estate and kept myself and the kids in our house, repaired the house and grew.
Now I have a new fear to face... whether I have anything worth writing about AND actually stepping up to the plate to do it. You are a fabulous influence and it is time for me to quit procrastinating, huh? Thanks for all you do!
So great, Patricia thank you! It is not a word to be used - ever! I love how you CHANGE it into nevertheless!ReplyDelete
My never? I thought after the birth of my first son that I would never have a second child as I loved my first born so much that there was no more room for another. How wrong I was! There is always room for more love! More giving - we are never exhausted to nothingness!
I can empathize with the not dressed for surprising weather. What a rude, crude awakening,huh! I knew you were a trooper! You have always been and will be for time to come! oxReplyDelete
Dear Patti, I remember when I landed in Frankfurt Rhein Mein too, on 21 December 1983 with a 16 year old and a 20 month old. Leaving the US was hard for me, but my dear husband was there awaiting our arrival. We stopped in Manheim to visit friends before driving down to Stuttgart to stay in the Hilltop Hotel until our house in Affalterbach was finished a few days later. Talk about culture shock, do you remember that 'unfurnished' means NOTHING? Sinks and toilets, that's it. no appliances, no cabinets, no closets, and no lights except in halls! I didn't want to go because of the weather, too much like NJ, and I like TX weather just fine thank you. But I learned that it was an adventure, and wound up having a wonderful three years there. Never say never? Back door.... indeed! lolReplyDelete
I always wondered how you ended up in Germany. Thanks for giving background to your personal story.ReplyDelete
Talk about gettin out of your comfort zone - wow- that was some change you went through.
Another goody pat, what are you going to do after this???ReplyDelete
Patricia, what a great short memoir of how you came to be where you are. I often wonder if you ever miss America. Thank you for reminding me about that 'Never' word, as it crops back into my life when things go badly and fear raises its ugly head once more. I am now vowing to delete 'never' from my vocabulary in exchange for 'nevetheless'. There is a place for 'never' as in never again to terroism like Yesterday, but in my personal like, 'never' whispered by the psyche that stops me from trying to overcome obstacles, will wither away. Remember to remind me of this.ReplyDelete
Nicely done Patti! Keep writing!ReplyDelete