“What are you still doing inside,” said the sun when I opened my window. “Come outside already, I’ve been waiting for you all morning.”
So I stuffed my thoughts into the messenger bag and went.
I rode my bike to the lake and sat down at my favorite spot, the dog beach. I had just made myself comfortable and was about to spend at least the next hour gazing thoughtlessly at the water and the chimneys near the horizon that were producing pretty white clouds, when another voice spoke.
“Yes?” I asked, irritated. “Who is this?”
“It’s me, the lake”, said the lake. “It’s really nice of you to visit me, but isn’t someone missing?”
Of course the lake was right. Why had I not thought of that? Someone was missing indeed. How could I sit here, at my favorite spot, doing nothing and enjoying myself – without her?
Feeling embarrassment climbing up my chest, I packed my thoughtlessness back to my bag and rode to the city. At Sachsenbrücke I stopped. A band was playing, in the middle of the bridge in the middle of the park. Jazz music with a singer and a saxophone and drums and everything. The bridge was packed with people bouncing their smiles to the rhythm of the jazz.
“What are you stopping”, the bridge asked. “Were you not on your way to make sure someone else can soon enjoy this together with you?”
“Alright, alright!” I kept riding, past the bridge and the jazz and the people, heading home to my desk, the place of work and serious thinking. The embarrassment came along with me, unasked.
When passing an ice cream parlor, I stopped and begged.
“It can’t hurt, you know. Just one quick ice cream should be okay before I get back to work?”
“Sure, come on in. As always, chocolate and blueberry?” the parlor asked. “But don’t forget, just how sweet ice cream will taste that you don’t eat all by yourself.”
And this is how it is these days. Though you haven’t been to any of my favorite places yet, I can’t keep enjoying them as I used to. I can’t help but thinking that I want you next to me, right there. And that I do too little in order to help get you by my side. All my places remind me, every day.
Your guy can explode any time of the day. You might have noticed. A wrong word, and he will bombard you with messages while you are in the shower or on the metro home from work. What sets him off is his weakness and his desire for explaining things (mansplaining?) that occupy his thoughts. He feels the necessity to explain in full depth as to feel fully understood by you. As to not be judged wrongly. And also, because he might feel like you don’t fully understand what he is talking about, so it all too often becomes lecturing rather than explaining…
Why is this?
We both have our minds. We are both quite heavily involved in this thinking hobby. I think neither you nor me suffer from too little thinking, from not considering things seriously enough.
I think, part of the reason is a double gap, one that requires patience.
The first gap: English. It is not our best language. Therefore lots of details, lots of depth and meaning, lots of connotations and colors get lost while we translate our thoughts for the other one. All of this is there originally, but it gets lost in translation.
The second gap: culture. I don’t have an insight into your culture (which also is partly due to not speaking the language at all). My view, my experience is that of a Western outsider who all too easily makes a broad (and often arrogant) judgement about what he hears and sees without really understanding.
Patience gives us time for narrowing those gaps. For assuming — even though it might not sound like it — that the other one is neither stupid nor short-sighted. Every time we struggled through a discussion, at the end we came out of the tunnel into the light, finding that we both have thoughts worth considering, worth listening, and not too seldomly we can even agree on the important things!
The good news and bottom line: I find a lot of this patience in me talking to you. Even though I am a terribly impatient person. With everyone else, I would have given up long ago. But with you, I somehow don’t worry finding patience.
Could be love… so what do you think?
Something has happened today that shouldn’t have. I woke up late, as usual, had my breakfast bowl with pears and quark and oatmeal, took a shower. Then, when I opened my laptop, I read your messages. After that, the first words coming from my mouth was me shouting at you on the phone.
I feel bad about it.
What upset me? It was mostly this sentence you wrote: „So she said it’s quite impossible to find a job abroad cause unless you’re an expert with years of experience alrady, normally startups wouldn’t want to wait for someone for 3 months to half year.“
A girl you just had a job interview with told you that she can’t hire you because you are not in Germany yet. And she had the courtesy to add a conclusion drawn from her personal experience: Since she herself is from the US, it obviously took her months to settle down in Berlin. Thus her conclusion and advice to you: It’s not possible. It takes too much time, from months to half a year, to move to Germany, settle down and fix all immigration issues, to find a place to live. No-one wants to hire someone like that. Someone like you.
A message that finds open ears with you.
The girl might be right. Yet I don’t care. We can’t allow ourselves to care.
I don’t care what she says. I don’t care for other people’s opinions. I don’t care if someone tells me that something won’t work. She made her experiences, fine. She drew her conclusions. And now she can’t hire someone who still has to go where she has already arrived, to Berlin.
Even if the girl is right, for herself and for the company she works for: She is not right for everyone. There is no law that says: No-one hires you if you’re not already in Berlin. What is true for one person does not have to be true for you.
If you ask people about anything, most people will tell you: no. Most people (and especially those who don’t know you) are much more likely to tell you something negative than positive. They are more likely to discourage than to encourage you. Why? Because they draw general conclusions from their own experience: I did it this way, and this is how it worked for me, so your way cannot succeed. That is bullshit. As you already know — and maybe even with best intentions: Even your good friends from Taipei will tell you no-no-no when you ask them for advice.
We have to fight real obstacles. I choose not to fight people’s opinions as well. This is something I want to convince you trying to do as well.
It is always important to remind ourselves of our situation. It is this: We have met and fallen in love. We have spent a tremendously happy half year together, that left me enormously dedicated. I hope you, too. Know this: I will not allow neither people nor circumstances to be in our way. Thus I ignore everything that says „no“. That says „impossible“. I simply neglect them. Granted: We do want a lot. You could call it a miracle. Surprise: We always knew this wouldn’t be easy. Our first choice would be someone hiring you in Berlin. So from afar you could secure a working contract, could finish all the paperworks and come to Germany with the security of having a job. That is a lot, since you are not the high-profile super-experienced job applicant — yet.
We have to make up for it. By positive attitude. By your charms.
You have had what, 5 or 7 interviews so far? And you got turned down? Poor girl! Know what: This has happened to about 100% of all people I know. Including me. Welcome to reality.
So how is it going to work?
There is something that we must keep repeating to ourselves, over and over. This has to be our mantra until it has become reality, until we are together:
It is possible.
Finding a job for you is possible. Getting you to Berlin (or anywhere near me) is possible. Being together is possible. Being hired even from afar, even with as little experience as you have is possible. There is no reason why it shouldn’t be. Repeat this. Any time you hear a doubt, concentrate on this mantra.
We have to tweak reality until it becomes one. This means: Ignoring all and every single one of the nay-sayers. There will be plenty more. We must focus on good feedback. Whatever we can to improve your chances we will keep, the rest we will throw away entirely. We will get better. We will get the message out. We have to find the one employer (and I’m sure there is more than one) who thinks that you are just the right person to fill their position. And who is willing to pay the extra effort and even wait for some time until you arrive.
And if this won’t work, we will still find another way. But this is too promising an opportunity that I do not want to give up yet. We have had a lot of positive feedback, and you got some interviews. Not hired yet. Guess what? Normal! Keep going…
I apologize for threatening you. This is a big flaw in me, and you have met it earlier already: That when upset, I am easy to throw all away. By saying „If you don’t do this, you can stop it now. Then it won’t work at all. Stay home. Do what your friends say.“ I hope I can restrain myself from doing this. Whenever I say something like this, the message behind it actually is: I care. It affects me. I want it to work. It is important to me.
Never ever do I mean to really throw it away!! Not now, and not ever in the future.
It is possible. We have to keep repeating this. It is possible. It is possible. Can you say it?
While we mutter this over and over as our mantra, we keep doing the next step, and the next, and the next. We will hit more obstacles. We will meet more people saying „We can’t hire you.“ We have to find our way through. But: Don’t let others set up more obstacles than there already are.
We have to become blind to negativity. IT IS POSSIBLE. There is no reason why it shouldn’t. You are a young woman capable of everything you set your mind to. And I’m never going to let you down. Or allow anyone else to push you down.
I simply can’t allow us being hindered by others.
It is possible. And we’ll prove it.
30 days passed since you left. Tough time for both of us. Especially for you — at least I got somewhere to stay…
I wish I could hold your hand or stand by your side or give you a hug. I wish I could give you strength like what you always do for me. Thank you for keep dragging me ahead even though you are facing hard situation. I am not brave at all. But you can always lift me up when I am falling.
The past two weeks I started applying for jobs here in Taipei as backup plan. And the whole scene disappointed me a lot. I knew the working condition is bad. But it is actually unbelievably bad. My master degree is like a joke, a proof for wasting 4 years in my life. The only thing the companies care about is if I can be a good labor: “we want you as long as you can work at least 10 hours per day and ask for the lowest payment.” And first time in my life, “having an idea” doesn’t work. “We want someone who follows the orders, and not being too proactive.”
Real world is far from my expectation. It is not my fault. The system is sick and I am trying to stick to my standards. But still as days passed by, I started doubting myself.
I am so grateful that you are there. Keep reminding me of all the good things, even though you still can’t find a room yet and you have all the reasons to be pessimistic. But you are there for me. You are an amazing person that I deeply fall for.
Everything’s so vague right now. Uncertain. Not sure. Maybe. Could be. Hopefully. So fragile.
But there should be a happy end, or pause, sooner or later, it has to be. Others are not allowed…
All we need is a little magic. Together we should have that.
(In bed and half-asleep. Missing you a lot so I woke up and changed the pajama to the duck one.)
Back in Leipzig. Sleeping on a sofa that’s not mine. Borrowed home. Trying to not spread my belongings too much around in someone else’s flat by keeping the radius around the sofa-bed small. Carefully cleaning breadcrumbs from the kitchen table and water drops from the bathroom floor besides the shower. Trying to not be a burden. It seems harder to accept help than to offer it.
Only had one talk yet with a potential roommate who immediately made me feel like I don’t want to meet that guy in the kitchen early in the morning. Bummer, that flat was big and cheap. Feeling a reluctance to searching rooms more actively than I do, and wondering why. Going to see another room tomorrow, if they don’t call me last-minute to tell me that the room is already taken, which has also happened twice.
Meeting people on the streets. „Hey, how are you doing? How was it in Vietnam / Thailand? Oh, sorry, where were you again?“ I’m answering: „It was nice, but now I’m back since I need to earn money, and no, Eva is not here, she’s still in Taiwan, we don’t have a solution yet.“ Telling the same thing over and over, small talk. Leipzig feels like a parallel universe to being with you. Like two worlds that coexist but are (not yet) connected. The smalltalk sounds as if I’ve been away for two weeks only. Walking down well-known streets in Leipzig without remembering their names, moving like a traveller and not like a citizen. I’m not at home. Not yet. I’m not in a bad mood, but it feels like Leipzig is about to swallow me back into my old life, the life of the past 3 years, as if nothing has happened in the meantime. But I don’t want to be swallowed, because you have happened, and you are the most important one that has happened to me since long.
Missing our daily routine, consisting of thinking about what to eat, having cheap coffee, taking naps, walking to and from the metro, occasionally doing something special. I want you back in my daily life. This is what I am reminding myself over and over, while taking first steps in Leipzig, while talking small: I want you back!
70% of our video chat conversation, if it deserved the term, was “can you hear me?”
We knew it’s gonna be hard. Had we known after this love-overwhelmed, same time zone half year, it would become this hard?
We had experienced it, 2 times. First time it took us 260 days to walk hand in hand again. Second time, as you said it was shorter than the previous, 230 days.
I remember vividly how those nights were. Darkness, running out of new pack of tissues every other day, expectation and disappointment, insomnia, and didn’t want to wake up.
And of course those bad connection calls. All comes back again. Familiar old friends.
The worst part is/was we never know when we’re gonna meet again, and when this loop can be ended. The next meeting day could be after 2 months, 200 days, or 2 years. It’s like walking on a mobius band with a ray of light in front. Or a mouse keeps running on a roller. I remember how I hate days like this. That I can feel every single mile between us.
Day 1 again. The more beautiful the half year was, the more rainy days wait ahead. Not an optimistic enough attitude to face challenge/difficulty? Yeah tell me about it, I can be optimistic if only I could copy and paste you in bed.
Goodnight Schunuffi, though it’s not yet dinner time there.
There we are. Me here. You there. Here is: a too narrow seat among too many people crowding a too narrow tube of aluminum and plastic bound to carry me away from you for the duration of a night at 1000 km/h. There is: a place that until today was home far from home to me, for half a year. Not because I belong there, which, quite obviously, I don’t. But because I have found someone there I seem to belong to, which I am as certain as can be after this half year ending today.
Half a year of being close on trial.
The plane I am sitting in will not only have to fight gravitation and turbulence and those forces of nature it is designed to deal with. Today, it will also have to fight my longing for you, for staying with you, a longing that will stretch out between us but not stretch thin despite the distance. I am missing you already, even before we say Goodbye. Why is it that we have to part, when all we could want, at least all I could think of wanting right now is staying with you? Right, you name it: reality. One that requires us to care for items called daily life and plan and work, that requires us to earn money and make a living before actually living it.
After half a year of ignoring it, this reality has us back.
Starting today, our clocks will display different numbers at the same moments again. Our forecasts will predict different weather and make us wear different kinds of clothes, mine for the next couple of months having to be significantly warmer than yours. Our breakfasts and our dinners will smell and taste different. (In case of stinky tofu, that seems to be to my benefit, but it really only seems so.) The space to my right side in bed will stay empty. And to see each other, from today we again will have to open our laptops and connect our minds and webcams over the internet instead of hopping into the next metro and kissing hello.
What a dream this half year has been!
We knew it was inevitable, it was finally to be this way. We knew this half year was borrowed. If it was to be any successful, it would be over far too soon. Since it is no longer than two weeks ago that I landed, we might call ourselves successful. I am immensly happy and grateful for every moment with you, and I am taking home plenty of good memories to nourish me during the months ahead. Even if the dream seems over for now, you and me are not. We are not borrowed, we’re real. Since we can’t hug and kiss each other for a little bit: Let’s instead work hard to make it real. All we got to do is give reality those things it wants.
I would like to dedicate this to-be collection of lines and letters to losing its purpose. To writing, not too far from today’s first sentence, a last one in a last entry before walking towards you and kissing you again. Let’s pingpong-write that day near. Can we touch each other with words to speed up those coming months, even on a distance?
I miss you.