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?