After living in Germany for nine months, we visited the US in November for three weeks, passing through three cities. (Los Angeles, Walnut Creek, and Portland) Going to visit friends and family got me thinking about my life here 1. The vast majority of my time it’s just the four of us. Robie has four nights of martial arts split between two schools as well as her German integration class 2 each morning during the week. The kids go to kindergarten. Me,… I spend most of those times alone or with the kids.
Beyond our daily routine, our circle of friends and family is small. There’s my friend Mishi 3; we see her and her family about once or twice a month, my niece Janina, and my older sister Daniela. The latter two, we’ve only seen a handful of times, since they live in other cities.
It got me thinking, how much of a life is it to have so few people? Returning to the USA 4 prompted me to compare and contrast.
If you moved away from wherever you’ve been living and returned for a visit, how many non-family people would you make a point of visiting? 5 For me the numbers are as follows:
- Germany – 1 – Mishi, plus I really do enjoy visiting my sister and niece
- Los Angeles – 2.5 – Two friends from high school, Monique and Isabel. The .5 is a friend from MIT but I’m not as consistent about seeing him.
- Bay Area – .5 An old friend from Intel, but I’m not as consistent since it’s a bit of a drive between him and my brother’s house.
- Portland – 5.5. The .5 is due to a bit of a drive. 6
Before coming to Germany, I’d been in Portland about 15 years. 7 That translates into one new friend about two or three years. Since we intend on staying here 2-3 years, if I find one new person, we’ll be doing pretty good.
Over the last months, I’ve asked a bunch of people what there number is. I was a little surprised that it’s pretty close to my Portland number, perhaps one or two more. The biggest number I got at 15. The smallest I got was 1. 8
What’s your number?
In a previous post, I mentioned that I’d been kidnapped as a kid by my dad. When visiting the US in November, I asked him about that. I wondered if he would agree with the description. He does agree but he also claimed that the way he did it was legal. He had consulted an attorney who advised him to register me with social services in the US, thereby establishing custody in the US. This sounded suspect to me but legal systems can be twisted. Still, legal or not, it was kidnapping; even he agrees with that. 9
I consciously think of Germany as “home”. Portland is just another city I’ve lived in and will likely live again. ↩
focused mostly on learning German ↩
it’s actually spelled Michi (short for Michaela) but when writing her letters (no email!) after my first summer in Germany at age 13 (we’ve actually known each other since I was 5) my German wasn’t that good yet and Mishi is what I heard and so it’s what I wrote. It was only several summers later that I learned I’d been spelling it wrong. ↩
again, I don’t say returning home, because while we’re here, Germany is home ↩
I say non-family because family people are generally folks you’re stuck with. You’ll likely visit them either way ↩
Should probably make it 7.5. One guy is not on the list because he hasn’t shown much interest in friendship though we’re an otherwise obvious fit. A second guy I should add, because he has shown interest and I had overlooked him ↩
April 2001-Feb 2016 ↩
The 1 answer came from someone with a very strong family circle. Brother, daughter, mother ↩
I still need to do a post on my broader thoughts on the topic↩