July 12, 2011 § 1 Comment
I have a knot in my stomach.
A big one.
I’m writing this on a US Airways plane heading from Portland to Philadelphia. It’s the first leg of my trip back to Berlin. I’m moving to Berlin for a year with my two teenage kids.
This is not some fancy corporate move. I need to find both work and a place to live and this is my look-see trip. I’m not so worried about the former, but terrified of the latter. The Berlin housing market is reportedly very tight and we’d like to take our small dog with us, which makes things tougher in Germany.
I’m starting to think that I may be foolish to not worry about the work situation, but I lived and worked in Germany as a journalist from 1987 until 1996 and still have a lot of contacts there. I’ve already started to write for an online newspaper called The Local and just finished a project for an old colleague who is managing editor at a corporate communications company. I just pitched a story idea to The World, a public radio program, and with any luck they will like my work. Plus finding a job – and an apartment – from some 6,000 miles away is just tough. You really need to be on the ground.
So why am I moving at all? No job. No place to live. And two teenagers in tow. Am I certifiable?
There are really too many reasons behind this decision, but the short version is I applied for a fellowship last year with the American Academy in Berlin and also applied for the kids to go to a German-American public school there – the John F. Kennedy School. I didn’t get the fellowship, but the kids got into the school. The combination of the school having a great reputation with the ever-crumbling Portland public school system led me to think it would be a fabulous experience for the kids to live in Berlin for a year. And of course I wanted to go back.
The kids have other ideas. When I left Berlin in 1996 I was married and had a three-month old son, Arnold. Now I’m divorced and that three-month old is 15 and driving – very well I might add. And since October of 1997 he’s had a sister, Pauline, though there are many days when Arnold would prefer to have remained an only child (her thoughts as well). Neither of them speak German, but they understand a lot. Arnold more so than Pauline, though she thinks otherwise.
And, as a 15 and 13 year old, they are not overly enthusiastic about moving halfway across the world to a place they’ve been many times, but only on vacation. As Arnold says: “This is so stupid. The German language is a shit language. We have the, but they have to have der, die, das. It’s soooo dumb.”
Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache.
I plan to blog on this site throughout the year so you can check in on how we’re doing. And of course if any of you have an apartment for rent in Zehlendorf, Steglitz, Lichterfelde or Friedenau – 4 Zimmer, preferable moebliert, Hundehaltung okay und nicht mehr als 1000 Warm – PLEASE TELL ME!