A new lease of life
Having ended a relationship all the way back in March, my first obstacle was to avoid the temptation to cut all ties with the small city in which I'd been based for the previous two and a half years. A small city with a small-town feeling that had frustrated me with its inability to surprise or even to keep a decent conversation going. We had not tried hard to get along with each other, I was open with my disdainful opinions of the buildings, the attitude of the residents and the lack of energy emanating from within. While this small city treated me with equal contempt, uncompromising when I attempted to perform what should be straight-forward processes such as banking, shopping or visiting the doctor. Punches were never thrown at me but I was injured slowly and subtly, a broken ankle healed in 8 weeks but the complications not detected by anyone other than myself are still causing trouble two years later. A tweak of a work schedule changed a fifteen minute commute to work with a friend into a 1 hour trip on a train on my own. A tweak to the train schedule meant I now watch my station whizz past (we literally stop everywhere else) in the mornings, I wait on a cold, dark platform to catch the train back from the next station. My commute is elongated by another 20 minutes and in my heart I hope that just for today, by some freak chain of circumstances, the train driver forgets protocol and stops where he has been instructed not to. Only in recent weeks the train has taken to slowing down just before the station, as though it's finally felt sorry for me and will let me out, but at the last second it speeds off again and I can almost hear the small city laughing at me as my heart sinks again. Every morning.
You can see how great the temptation was to leave. But I couldn't do that, my pride wouldn't let me. I was determined to stay and enjoy the summer. I found a new doctor who identified exactly the problem with my ankle, I was told to avoid any team sports, not to go running on tarmac and there was to be no dancing (booooo). But I was also told not to get fat.... due to the extra strain that a few extra kg's would put through the joint. Almost mercifully the doctor allowed me to continue to run in the forest and to ride bikes or go swimming. This delighted me no end, the forests in the area are never-ending and quite impressive. The trees offered a cool respite from the hot days of summer and are now providing some pretty spectacular scenery by turning all sorts of sexy colours. I persuaded a Kiwi friend to run with me too, the dry-humoured conversations in English provide a tremendous respite from the drudgery and pain of speaking in (and listening to) German.
My German... it's comically bad for someone that has now been here for 3 years. I am now able to deal with the unhelpful and rude people who work in the banks or the city hall, previous encounters were mainly me getting eyeballed and virtually spat upon for being another fucking foreigner that can't speak the unnecessarily complicated local lingo and it's almost lunchtime so we have to close for two hours. It still requires tremendous patience not to grab their faces, insert my fingers into their mouths and force those lips into a shape resembling a smile - but we now seem to conduct our business in a relatively painless manner which doesn't require violence to resolve. I still do not like using German, if only because I hate hearing myself trip and make obvious mistakes again and again. My lonely commute on the train was significantly brightened up in August when a pretty blonde started travelling to the same station. The day I first saw her standing on the normally empty platform I ignored it, someone was teasing me. No-one else catches this train and certainly no-one attractive does. The second day she was there I panicked - this was not a drill, there was actually someone else using this platform and they had lovely hair! My joy must have been evident as I was the recipient of a smile and a wave that day. Suddenly I didn't mind speaking German. I said hello and then stuttered and spluttered as I cobbled a few words together. Things went well, she was talking back and I was understanding what she said. I got adventurous and tried out some crappy jokes and self-deprecating comments, she laughed in the right places and seemed to be almost charmed. Three months later and my main motivation for getting out of bed in the mornings or finishing all my work in the evenings is so I can tell jokes to this girl and to try out new words or phrases I have learnt or recently translated. She has no idea how much she is appreciated just by being there and putting up with me for that journey.
So my life is slowly changing again, there are still some darker moments but the summer has been eventful and a few weekends out of the small city have been great and have made me realise that you just can't get on with everyone and it's probably about time to go now.
The question is simply, where?