Friday, January 8, 2010

Berlin Pt. 3 / Gregor Grossman

“They still talk about it a lot, East and West stuff. I was born in December of 1989 and so I don’t remember anything from the Wall. Then I moved to the US and where I came from became even more elusive.” As he spoke in German and English, effortlessly switching back and forth, I noticed how he sounded like a German. Not like me, the assimilated American with the mixed-German childhood. The speed of his voice and gamut of vocabulary further cemented that he was German and the past year in Berlin was obviously a return to himself.

We sat on a bench below the front windows outside of a broken palace bar in Kreuzfeld…the Williamsburg-Brooklyn of Berlin. Mila spoke to friends on her cell and paced on the pavement in front of the softly seething crowd that splintered out the door and on to the street. Gregor has been living here since he turned 19. Towards the end of the heated adolescent rebellion of teenage, we tend to soften and open, the yearning for new scenery grows. At 19 Mila left Berlin for America. She had been living with her father. Ironically, at 19 Gregor left America for Berlin. He had moved to the US as a child when his mother remarried and moved to the US. We connected in conversation on the topic of history's grip.

Our conversation made me think of this idea of “home.” Is it mathematical, merely the place where we spent the most time? I have probably been in Germany as many years of my life than Gregor, yet as I listened while a friendly blonde girl seated at the bar was kind enough to inform him (without him asking I should add) of her future plans that evening, i.e. which bar she was going to next. I considered him home. Where was home for me?, I wondered. Last year I tipped the scale. I have now been in the US for more years than Germany. Does this change where I should consider “home.”
Is it merely where we have the most roots? Mila and I have been trolling the avenues at 15 mph apartment shopping all week. Amazingly we found one we both like, and although neither of us have extensive roots in Salt Lake, I don’t expect it to be long until we feel like it’s our “home.” In other words, the idea of home must be one of those things that is determined by where you are against where you want to be. Constantly in flux and dependent, what I’ve considered my geographic/social/cultural origin in relation to every other corner of the world tends to change through experience and emphasis.

Talking with Gregor and thinking of his life in Berlin, it made me remember that at different times in my life, I have felt aware of my roots in both the US and Germany.

No comments: