March 25, 2018


Like most/all new bloggers, I'm tempted to madly engaged in checking Stats and Google Analytics every half-hour to see if anyone is reading, and if so, where they live.  How many people in town, how many times, whether Therapist Gumby read it during his lunch hour today, and so forth.

I have a steady reader living in Germany and it is driving me twelve kinds of bonkers.

I can count on one hand (with fingers remaining to count how many times I'll probably end up using the new electric mower I've ordered when summer arrives) the readers I don't know personally, not including the hits when I whore this blog by leaving a comment on one of Jenny Lawson's posts (also a perfectly normal, selfish behavior by other bloggers, but my and their comments are also sincere, and it's not my fault Wordpress lets you list your most recent post).  There's the occasional Peruvian bot-crawl, but other than that, it's family and friends all the way down.

Germany.  Germany.  I'm excited and flattered.  Who are you?  This post is for you.

My son's taking German as his primary high school language (with plans for Japanese later), and it clicks for him in a way that Spanish never did.  I don't understand that.  Spanish comes to me and out of me naturally.  I've sung multiple things in German - Bach's St. John Passion, Beethoven's Ninth, Brahm's Nanie - and I can pronounce all of the text and its subtleties moderately well, but usually I have no idea what I'm saying.  The mouthfeel of the words is singularly satisfying.  But embarking on even the most superficial attempt at the introductory, how-to-have-a-"how-are-you-my-name-is" conversation from the first week of my son's lessons left me stymied.  I gave up and memorized how to say "you are pig-shit" and was satisfied.  It covers most of my conversations with him anyway, whether we're teasing each other or whether he forgot to take out the recycling again.  A most useful expression.  See?  I speak German now.

His father and his father spent time in the late 1980s living in East Germany, during the kid's grandfather's interim professor position there (a very rare tolerance of the presence of Americans at that time).  Thus, his dad speaks a fair bit and is our resource in the family for correcting him and nudging him in his classes.  He gave the kid his old dog-eared fence German-English dictionary.  He brings him home at 8:15 each evening and I say to them both, "Du bist Schweinescheiße," probably a grammatical disaster, and it's a running joke.

Germany intrigues me.  They have their shit together in a way that America will never have again, as we're regressing at nine-point-eight meters per second squared.  Germany and France are now the leaders of the Free World.  And the kid is traveling to Germany in 2019, the summer before he turns sixteen (we're already making hefty payments on the trip cost each month), and I think his determination to move to Canada after college will be replaced with a lust for returning to Germany.  He will fall in love with it.  I am certain of this.  And while the idea used to fill me with dread, hope for his escape from our developing pit of insanity has replaced it.

I don't like feeling that way about my own nation.  But all his parents' eyes are open wide.  Every parent in history has wanted more for her children if grim prospects await them.  People once came here for a better life.  Now they leave, or send their children away.  Even immigration from Mexico and Central America to the U.S. has reversed flow.  Outbound emigration is increasing in frequency among our young people and I expect it will become a mini-exodus in the not-too-distant future.  Our best and brightest will come to you for a better life.

Reader, whomever you may be, you might just pass our kid in the street one day.  The Universe is a strange place.  It could happen.  And thank you for reading my bones.

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