Still Here, Still Foreign

I made it home tonight just ahead of the rain storm that hit almost exactly at 8pm. Coming out of the U-bahn, looking up at the sky, it was dark, dark, grey instead of the white-spotted blue it was when my S-bahn went underground at Ostbahnhof.

Hurrying home before a storm is usually a favorite of mine. I love the moist, electric, cement smell that grows as the storm comes nearer and how it’s always hottest right before the rain starts, and then seconds after it’s falling everything seems to breathe a sigh of relief.

Not so much this time though. Hurrying home before a storm takes on a different feeling when you have an iPod in one hand and 10 pounds of cat litter in the other. Clumping cat litter.

Made it. Just. In. Time.

Hi there. Here I am, still here, still foreign.

I lost my writing mojo*. I think it’s coming back but I hit a dry spell for a while where I was just completely tapped out. I think before I fully regain my sense of humor we might just have to sit through an obligatory online purge.

This site has been pretty silent, but plenty has been going on. Not too long ago Olli’s sister and brother-in-law left town, we moved into their apartment and I got promoted, hired my first ‘underling’ and sometime during all of that I flew off to New York twice for conjugal visits and once to Chicago on business.

Things just caught up with me finally.


The final blow was getting hit twice with gastrointestinal disorders in less than two weeks, I never really got my pep back. That left me literally drained.

On June 3, we celebrated our anniversary. I find it so hard to believe that just over a year ago, the day before our wedding, Oliver took a phone call, during which he poured me a glass of wine and handed it to me. This was the call that led to him moving to the US “for six months”.

Six months has stretched on much longer and this, in the end, is really what is catching up.

I am tired of being a good sport. I’m supportive as hell and don’t think it is possible to be more understanding, but my energy for this is dwindling to a trickle.

It isn’t too much fun to talk about my life in Germany when the reason I’m here isn’t. With my family in California, my husband in New York and my homesick sister-in-law in Hamburg with the baby-blues, I spend plenty of time talking about my day, trying to make it sound interesting. By the time I get around to even looking at my computer I’ve spun my day so many ways, there is no new version for the internet. There is no energy to even think about writing it.

I’m an old hand at long distance relationships. Hell, I’m a pro, I’m a success story. Oliver and I flew between San Francisco and Munich for three and a half years before I finally came over for the ‘visit’ that never ended. We found that rhythm, we had it totally down: a visit every two months or so, phone calls twice a day. He’d call before going to bed (4-ish CA time) and I’d call in the evening and wake him for the day (10:30-ish CA time). Other than a small credit card bill once the dust had settled, we were champs at the long distance thing.

But this is not the kind of thing that gets better with practice. At best you fall into a routine and tolerate it. As long as you share this common goal of being together, the things you have to do to achieve this fall into place, more or less. But anyone who has done this will know that this distance issue will seep into your life and affect everything you do, dominating it. He’s rarely here but my life still revolves around him because of what I don’t do in his absence.

Can’t go out just yet, he’s going to call.

I’ll wait to watch go see that movie sequel, we loved the first one.

Better leave work early and get that shopping done, he’s coming on the weekend and the last thing we’ll want is to go downtown.

This can wait, he’s in town, let’s do something special with our day.

If this discussion is going to lead to an argument, then skip it, he’s only here for another day, don’t waste that time.

I came here to end all that and live a ‘normal’ life. With this, there is no normal routine, there is only your life together and your single lives apart. Perhaps because we’re doing this again after really being together, this living arrangement is turning my partner into a guest. Someone you couch arguments for and avoid a good fight with because you don’t want to ruin his visit.

Now, he never asked me to do these things. This isn’t his fault. I also know he’s not blissfully going about his day in the US thinking life is great and he could do this forever. He hates this too. I told him to go, and I still think it was the right decision. The problem is that this arrangement hasn’t ended.

When asked how our relationship worked, I would tell people, Easy. Long distance cuts the crap. All the bullshit quickly washes away. You find out quickly how you feel about the other person and they about you. People with less than serious feeling lose steam and quit.

Anything can be dealt with for a while. If you know when it will end, you can tolerate and deal with just about anything. But after some time passes you really start to consider what is important and what is worth the effort. I stayed in Munich because I had finally found a ‘real’ job and it’s going like gang busters. But after almost nine months apart, I’m wondering what the hell I’m doing leading the exact same life I led in San Francisco five years ago: working late, coming home, making dinner and falling asleep in front of the TV. Meet up with the girls occasionally and get drunk.

Talking to Oliver long distance on the phone.

Woopdie fucking doo.

Don’t panic anyone, this isn’t leading to a dramatic ending. I can go on for another four months until November. If I have to. But I already know I’m done. Stick a fork in me, this is enough.

I’ve gone on long enough. This isn’t leading to a decision, or a revelation, not tonight: the battery is almost dead on the laptop and it’s damn late. I guess all I’m trying to say is that the fun part of being single again has pulled to a screeching halt and I’m starting to re-evaluate what is important.

This storm has been building for a while and the idea that a solution could be at hand is already a relief, although we’re not there just yet.

On Thursday, Oliver and I are meeting in the airport. On our kitchen table are tickets to a interview. Us and a city. We’re expanding our horizons eastward to see if there’s a chance that we could be happy elsewhere for a while. I’m a bit skeptical, but open-minded. I have a list of questions and certain requirements, so does he. It needs to be safe for Fergus and safe for us, I’ll need at least the hope of a job.

But first there would be one hell of a language to learn.

I love Germany and my life here. I’m comfortable. But things could be getting really foreign soon.

Stay tuned, I’ll be back.

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7 responses to “Still Here, Still Foreign

  1. It’s posts like this that make you one of my favorite bloggers. Seriously. Your ability to be honest and sort of throw things out there is really great… and I’m still in awe of the fact that when you were getting married your blog wasn’t consumed with centerpieces, table arrangements and bridesmaid dresses.

    Both of these things (honesty and level-headedness) will work in your favor when it comes to making tough decisions a little easier. And hey, you’ve already proven you can make the expat leap… you’ve moved, learned a new language and made another country your home. What’s one more?

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed that everything works out the way it’s meant to… and I’m glad to see you’re back, if only briefly.

  2. Hey Megan, we’re glad to see you back! Sorry to hear about Olli’s extended US stay. With no updates, I had a whole scenario in my head that he had returned and you were just too darned busy being newlyweds to bother to write anymore. Sadly I was WAY off! We all think of you often and are sending our best thoughts your way. Good luck with the new adventure, we can’t wait to hear your next steps! xox Bonita (and of course Marc and Brody!)

  3. glad to hear from you. thanks for your note. i wish i kept half as good a blog as you dearie… i am intrigued by the change of venue… i’m hoping for someplace exotic for you.

  4. I vote for Singapore!

  5. Good thing you, Fergus, and Ollie love sushi!!

    Good luck to you all with the interview – keeping fingers and toes crossed for you.

    – J.

  6. B. – Thanks, I needed to hear that what I wrote made sense. And as for blogging, I’ve found your frank and funny reflections about life over here fantastic.

    Bonita, Marc and Brody! – Hi guys, thanks for checking in. I’ll let you know what’s up soon. No matter what, we’ll be swinging through SF in late August, hope to see you.

    Emily – I’m especially flattered you checked in, what with a brand new baby at home. Hope you’re all still doing well.

    And Joan and Desyl, thanks for your optimism… I really wish it was either sushi land or Singapore… oh I wish…

  7. Good freakin’ Lord! I’m glad to see you’ve come back to blog and was glad to get an interim personal note from you while you got your mojo back. I can certainly see what’s brewing.

    So Megan, you and I are once again in relatively the same boat. Maybe it’s the fact we’re from SF and fabulous women 😉 or maybe we’ve both just lost our minds. When my fiance and I got engaged, he initially thought he’d one day be the expat, and I’d go back to being a regular Californian (as if) but it looks like we’ll either both be expats in a different country OR I’ll be an expat expat (is there such a thing?) and he’ll stay here OR we’ll be living temporarily in different countries. Don’t ask me how that’s going to impact the family we’re supposed to start.

    As for you, I was really hoping Ollie was home by now. With the long silence, it was hard to tell if you were alone there or if he’d come back and you had better stuff to do, or heck…who knows? All I have to say to you is “wow!” Whatever happens, I just hope you’re together, happy and both reveling in what you want.

    Missed you!