Life is good, but somehow writing—or at least, blogging—has fallen by the wayside. (To add to that, this blog badly needed pruning; from now on I'll let the chips fall.) But tonight seems to be the night for it, because I'm feeling pensive: slow rain is falling on my windows as I look out at the valley, and the breeze smells like fall. It's a Robert Frost sort of night.
A quick and arbitrary list of changes since my last post: I'm living in Germany now, having gone back and forth two and a half times in as many years; I'm a student at Washington State University, showing Information Systems who's boss; I just finished an internship with the software giant SAP and enjoyed it there; I'm on the right track for good employment and great life adventures.
An interesting side effect of wandering is a sort of wistful loneliness, which seems to be hanging around this evening. It's not a bad thing, necessarily: Charles Bukowski called isolation a gift when talking about the important of going all the way for your dreams. With any luck, that's where I am now. But the world is cool and quiet and it makes the thousands of miles to friends and family that much more poignant in my thoughts. What does it mean, that I choose to be here?
Salty and wind-swept, but warm and glittering. Keeping in step with the measure under the fixed stars of the task. How many personal failures are due to a lack of faith in this harmony between human beings, at once strict and gentle. - Dag Hammarskjöld
Yesterday I went to the Frankfurt International Auto Show, which was more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Just to give an idea, the first hall we went into was Lamborghini, Bentley, Porsche, and Bugatti — and I don't think I stopped salivating for the ensuing eight hours. I sat in all sorts of cars, including the new Bentley Flying Spur, and decided that the BMW S1000RR is definitely the winner as far as sport bikes are concerned. But more interesting to me now was walking into the Frankfurt Flughafen Fernbahnhof (the railway station at the airport) to come back to Heidelberg and realizing that, to some degree or another, I've assimilated into the culture here — and then feeling that it's assimilated into me.
I've said over and over again that I'd love to live here; now it's happening, and it's at once right and terribly bewildering. As a person with two passports, I sometimes get the eery feeling that I'm a man without a country, straddling the Atlantic without a sure notion of where I really belong. When I was in an Apple Store on Friday, I talked to another dual citizen who's lived here for the last 30 years, and he said exactly the same. The way he explained it is that he didn't know where he would want to be buried, adding quickly that he hoped he had some time to think on it. It seems like that's the perfect way to describe it.
A friend of mine once wrote a sentence that's stuck in my memory: "When August comes, I will truly be alone in the city." I thanked her, then, for what she had to say on a Christmas Eve in the dark hours of night, but then that one sentence stuck around because it so clearly expressed to me what it's like to suddenly be expected to be an adult — suddenly expected to move up to the big leagues and pretend to know what life means and what to make of it. I'm certainly not there, and with the thoughts that I have as the person that I am, it remains the great intractable question that stays with me. But she kept dancing, and it's the most hopeful thing that could come from such a sentence.
For some, I think answers come in some form of religion or spirituality, or in a clearly defined purpose that drives them to the work. Some, having the laborious luxury of knowing their life's calling, have no choice but to push on in doing it. I don't know that I have any of those things. As Mr. Frost, I have walked out in rain and back in rain, and always at those moments that I'm acquainted with the night because I'm struggling to stay acquainted with myself, looking for answers or for a path or even just a breath of fresh air that gives me the quiet slumber that sometimes seeks to flee.
I suppose this is all a roundabout way of asking where I ought to be and what I ought to do. My gut says that I should be here and that I really am on the right track, but that doesn't eliminate the ifs, the whats, and the whys of living. Does anyone figure those out? Question mark.
Men yearn for poetry though they may not confess it; they desire that joy shall be graceful and sorrow august and infinity have form... - E.M. Forster
In the meantime, fall is coming. The rain has stopped and now I can hear the sound of the A5 Autobahn (Basel-Frankfurt) and raindrops slipping from the trees. Somehow it's a perfect season for me, as the weather cools and the nights grow longer, trees change and the stars lend themselves to chilly observation on the hoods of cars or blankets that soak through too quickly. Fall is coming, and it is good.