Saturday, August 16, 2008


So, a large part of my reluctance to write new entries here had been the expectation (self-inflicted) that I update people on my future in Germany and corresponding status of my long sought after work permit.

...well, I got it. :)

And I was so glad to have received the news while I was home, so I could share it with my family, grandparents, and friends at home, who, after all, would be the ones most aware of my absence. As it happened, I opened the e-mail with the news from my boss while I was on the phone with Katja, so she found out right along side me. This event proved to be the icing on what was already a wonderful vacation:

It was a strange experience initially, to come out of a long night of air travel and drop back into life with my family after so long away. The cultural readjustments, language shift, and reminders of old modes of interaction were all fairly quick, but left me mulling them over as I quietly made personal sense (or tried) of these two very different identities and worlds of which I'm a part.

These different identities are not divergent ways in which I present myself--although assimilating a new culture/language has develop new traits/habits in me--but more how I see myself as fitting into each place. For example, how do I reconcile my being American (and being back in my native environment) with what I have grown to see as negative aspects of our culture and way of life?

In any event, the readjustment to family proved to be a pleasantly surprising one. We all seem to have matured together, leading us to get along as a unit far better than we had ever before; the intensity of sibling quarreling and conflict with parents was greatly reduced and had in many cases fully dissipated. Certainly a natural shift in family structure, but a welcome one.

I was especially glad to catch up and spend time with both of my brothers -- it is fascinating and enjoyable for me to see how they've changed develop, handled problems similar (and not) to those I did, and admire them for strengths I lacked and choices they've made. This rosy outlook may have been supported by the brevity of my visit--interrupted by two Midwest trips to see friends--but I doubt much would have changed it.

The highlight of our time together was a kayaking trip on the Kinnikinnick River starting in River Falls, WI., during the 4hrs of which the five of us and Martin's girlfriend, Elise, alternated drifting slowly through deep regions and barreling swiftly down rocky ones under clear blue skies. The stretch was secluded and mostly peaceful, except for the couple instances of capsizing at ill-placed tries downriver of swift rapids. To make up for those, we made a couple stops to swim and relax, one of which adjacent to a sandstone cliff that Martin and I semi-successfully attempted to climb.

Thinking of times like those do make me wistful for home, and certainly quell the negative sentiments for my home-country to which I alluded above. It's hard to say where I may end up down to road.