You can view this sentence, “I am still here” in so many ways. Number 1: I am still here on this earth. I haven’t killed myself out of depression, desperation or unhappiness. Number 2: I am still here because someone else hasn’t killed me. I didn’t live in the worst of all neighborhoods, but it was certainly not the best either. Number 3: I am still here in my situation. I am getting better, but it’s still the same situation. And number 4: I am still here in this country, I haven’t left to go back to Germany. However you view it: I am still here.
This story has come a long way and is coming to its final leg. I’ve mused about all the luxuries we have in the U.S. and how we should be thankful for it in Part 1. In Part 2, I told you about my immigration story. In Part 3 and Part 4, I talked about how I became a divorced woman and a weekend mom because I couldn’t appreciate all my blessings. In this part, I will venture into why I am still here, on all kinds of levels.
Not Without My Son
On a very basic level, I am still here because I am not about to leave my son here while I move across the world back to Germany. I still think of Germany as my home; after all, that IS where home had always been. My parents still live in the same house I grew up in. My whole family is there. My old friends are there. It is the culture that comes naturally to me. At some level it feels natural that going back would be the logical choice… if I didn’t have a son who couldn’t come with me. (I suppose it’s a blessing for him to have a dad who actually cares to see him, but it makes moving impossible.)
Being here all by myself makes life very difficult to manage on a daily level AND when looking into the future. Being a single mom is anything but easy. Being here all by myself also means I can’t just drive over to my mom when I don’t feel like being alone. It goes as far as to mean that when I have a question or a problem, I can’t even call her up because when I’m awake, she’s asleep. That makes me think that I WOULD move back if it came down to it, but there are a whole bunch of reasons that speak for staying here.
The U.S. Has Become My New Home
There are many more reasons why I am still here. Someone recently asked me if I would move back if I could. Many people have asked me that over the past two years and I always said “Yes” without thinking about it. For some reason, this time I actually thought it through. Would I move back if I didn’t have a son. And I suddenly came to the conclusion that I probably wouldn’t. I mean I have been here for the past 9 years after all, the U.S. really has become home. I have worked hard to acclimate to the American culture in part because I had to and in part because that just happens. When you’re immersed in a culture, you adapt. When I go back to visit Germany now, many behaviors that were natural to me growing up, now hit me over the head as rude or too direct or inappropriate. And then I am almost thankful for living in the U.S. because I have started thinking that that’s the “better” way to do it. I know that’s not true – whatever is culturally acceptable is usually the best way to do it for where ever you’re at. But to ME, the way we do things in the U.S. has become the norm (for most things anyway).
A Professional Future I Couldn’t Have In Germany
Last time I did any sort of “business” within the German system was right after high school graduation. I went to college there for one month, not even in the field I am in today at all. I never learned German business language. I never really learned German business etiquette. I am not a German business person; I am a very capable American business person. I have received my college education here, I have graduated here, all my business vocabulary and training has been done within the U.S. system. I mean, I try to explain my non-English speaking family what I do for a living (public relations and blogging) and I don’t know how to explain it in German (they think I do advertising. There’s no way to explain it to my parents any other way).
And because of this, I have opportunities here I would not have in Germany. And I think that’s generally true. This country is a sowing ground for entrepreneurs – the U.S. makes it extremely easy not just to start and have a business, but to also promote it and make it flourish. Taxes are better, too. Granted, if you can’t make it, no one really cares too much about you either. But if you CAN do it, you can make millions from nothing. Germany doesn’t even allow you that. In order to start a business, you must have a certain education or training; Germany doesn’t just let anyone have a business. So, being here is opening doors and opportunities for me I’d never have back in the other home. Germany protects you well for when you need help, but it also takes professional opportunities I always wanted. I truly love my job, and I have no idea how I would do it in Germany; not sure I could or would even be allowed to.
Germans Don’t Move
I hate starting over. I don’t want to keep doing that. That includes moving. I just really hate moving. I have been moving so much for the last few years, I think I’ve moved enough for the rest of my life. That’s where I remain German, I suppose. Germans don’t move. We don’t move for jobs, for prettier homes, for better locations… we just don’t move. Germans are very attached to their homes; they’re really married to them. Our home is not just a house, it’s a neighborhood, a town, a state. It’s our surroundings, our friends, we stay close to family. Germans just don’t move.
But still, I have yet another move coming up. It’s just from Long Beach to probably Riverside, I will still be in the same area, but I have to leave my neighborhood and my house again. There’s is nothing worse for me than leaving the place I finally felt comfortable enough calling “home.” If I haven’t made it clear yet: I HATE moving! And moving all the way overseas again, that’s more than just changing neighborhoods. That’s starting ALL OVER AGAIN. No can do.
So, while I have much to complain about in my life, I am learning more and more how much to appreciate all the good I have as well. And since I turn lemons into lemonade, I focus on the good. We have so much in this country to be thankful for, that makes our lives some of the best in the world (no matter how bad we think our situation may be). I truly am grateful I get to be here; and if given the free choice between going back to Germany or staying here, I’d like to think I’d still like to stay in the U.S. system.