Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Navel gazing

I have added a new blog to my sidebar: Cathy Dobson's Planet Germany. While we were in Florida for spring break, I read Dobson's book of the same name, which follows her British family through a typical year of life in Germany. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and felt while I was reading it much like I did during our own final days in Germany--I loved every minute and dreaded the end. I hadn't expected, however, to gain any insight into my own psyche.

Dobson muses about raising her children in a foreign culture and how "British" or "German" each of them is. She says of her elder daughter:
I ask Erica one lunchtime whether she would like to live in England one day, especially as she is such an out-and-out Anglophile.

"Oh God, no," she says, "I don't really like it in England. I don't know how to behave over there. People expect me to know things, like how the buses work, or what to ask for in shops. But I don't because I've always lived in Germany. Living here, it's OK if I get things wrong, because I'm a foreigner anyway. Being English is only fun if you're somewhere else. Actually, I'd be happy to live anywhere . . . France, Italy, Spain. Just not somewhere where I'm supposed to fit in."
That is so totally me! The happiest times of my life have been in Hawaii and Germany, both places where I am an outright foreigner. The places where I'm SUPPOSED to fit in though, I always feel vaguely uncomfortable and like I'm doing things not quite right.

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