October 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

My son Arnold is going back to Portland.

I think it’s the best decision, but of course it isn’t easy. I did want him to give Berlin and Germany some more time, but he’s a very determined kid and the bottom line is he just doesn’t like it here. Or as he would say: “It isn’t bad. I just like it at home more.”

I can totally understand that. He’s 15 and although he was born in Berlin, we left when he was three months old. I don’t have a picture in my computer of what he looked like back then. But this is one of my favorite pictures of the kids, taken by their dad, when Arnold was 11 and Pauline almost 10. It was the summer of 2007.

Their dad is a really good photographer. He takes forever to take a picture, but maybe that’s why he’s a good photographer.

In many ways Arnold is more German than he would ever admit. He is super focused, can be extremely anal and is very persistent when he wants something.

He doesn’t give up.

I remember when he learned to snowboard. It is not an easy skill to learn. Pauline and I took lessons with him at the same time. I quickly traded in the snowboard for skis, which I know how to work, and Pauline dumped the board for skis soon thereafter.

Arnold continued to ride. He kept going up and down that stupid beginner’s rope tow at Skibowl — the whole damm day. Up and down that thing. And it isn’t easy to ride a rope tow with a snowboard.

But he stuck with it and now he’s really good.

This was taken in 2008 — the year Portland had a massive snowstorm.

They closed schools for a week.

Arnold and our neighbor made this tunnel outside of our house. It was the first and only time we got enough snow in Portland to do something like that. Our gravel road was blocked for a week.

Yesterday I asked Arnold if there was anything he liked about Berlin and Germany. He went on to say that he thought Berlin is probably better than New York (FYI: His New York experience consists of a few days many years ago). He said he thought Berlin is probably like a combination of Portland and New York, except it has Germans.

All the rules and the formalness of people here really drive him nuts. He doesn’t like it that the stores aren’t open on Sundays, that a typical apartment has only one bathroom and that the washing machine is so tiny you have to do many more loads to get the same amount of clothes clean than you would with one load in the States.

I don’t like this either.

But Arnold, like is dad, is just not a city person. He likes open spaces. He likes camping. He dislikes crowds.

This is Arnold the other day. Unlike his dad, I am not a good photographer.

That white cone in the background is the base of Berlin’s TV Tower. Like most tall things in big cities you can pay to go to the top and there’s an overpriced restaurant up there. I took this picture before we went to the GDR Motorcycle Museum.

Arnold wants a motorcycle. He reminds me of that nearly daily. I view it as part of his German stick-to-itness.

I am not German, but I am not getting him a motorcycle.

Arnold hasn’t given up yet, though.

And I didn’t give up on my initial question. Did he have anything good to say about his experience here?

Without pointing to a specific, he said that he was glad he came and that he appreciated the time he had here. He wished it had been earlier though and I understand that. It’s tough to do something like this in the middle of high school.

I’m glad he came. And I think despite the difficulties, it will be an experience he will appreciate for a long time.

Maybe even one day he might proudly say: Ich bin Berliner.


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