The part where I rush.
July 6, 2010 § Leave a comment
It’s actually fitting if I rush here, because time seems to have no regard for contemplative pacing or thoughtful pauses. There never seems to be enough time to do everything I want to do in a day, despite the two or three hours I’ve gained since classes began from rising before seven to catch the bus, despite the evenings in town that press against the borderlines of slumberland.
I have settled into the rhythm of life in Kassel. Although I find myself oftentimes tired, and out of necessity as much as pleasure prop myself up every morning with steaming glasses of milchkaffee, I am no longer disconcerted by the early mornings and the brightness that fills the sky until long past ten. I love my routine here in Kassel: the morning tramride, the afternoon adventuring, the evenings filled with camaraderie and culture. Everything efficient but everything unhurried. Time never too crowded to forbid the enjoyment of a light meal under the shade of a sycamore, a cup of cocoa or a bar of chocolate and the laughter of friends.
However little I can comprehend it, this is the beginning of my third week here, and only a week and a half are left to me. Already I begin to feel the desperation of contracting time — I feel, in a subdued measure, the same kind of wistfulness and greediness of time that colors the end of every semester at home. Although the friends I have here are friends of two weeks, I feel as though I have known them much longer, because our being away alone, together, alters the rulebook of intimacy and accord.
Being here has taught me a lot about how to be friends and how to communicate with the world despite differences. I am afraid of being the entitled foreigner who visits another country only to practice their own mother tongue, but stuck as I am in the introductory phrases and phases of German, I cannot communicate all my needs without my English crutch. I try my best with what catchphrases I have, and have mastered an apologetic and humble face for those moments when I cannot speak in German. From what I can gather, it takes a lot of openness and a lot of humility; but it puts your heart on a plane that is tender to the touch of kindness and alert to the cries of friendship. There’s a fearlessness in its new receptiveness to amity.
The friends I have made here are friends of two weeks, and yet it stings like a nettle in the heart, spreading its slow poison, to think of the goodbyes — because the burning leaves of Autumn won’t mark our return to the same classrooms again; we have crossed oceans to come here, and in a fortnight will be oceans apart again. And so I count the hours like Scrooge’s apprentice, and lock away in the unassailable vaults of my heart every moment in this beautiful world of friends and kaffees and sycamore trees.