No one knew me when I arrived in Heidelberg last August. I had no history; I had no pre-conceptions. I had no friends; I had no enemies. It was OK if I didn't know where something was or who someone was, because everything was new.
I'm not forgetful or clueless; I'm new.
No one knew the overweight me or the angry temperamental me. No one knew my weaknesses, my regrets, or my disappointments. No one knew my politics, my religion, my family history.
Of course, no one knew my strengths or my successes either. No one knew what a good teacher I have been or what a good friend I am. Or that I love Rossetti and Bessie Smith. Or that I sometimes dream of Siena.
I have made friends who have helped me make a place for myself here, and I have also rediscovered a new appreciation for loved ones left behind. Here and there, I thank all the friends and students who encouraged me this last year.
I once saw an abstract painting of a woman who appeared to have no skin between her and the world. Symbolically, would being so completely in touch be excruciating or ecstatic?
I am a homebody, but I just spent five years teaching in Europe. Blues is my music choice, but my cell phone rings to Goldfrapp's "Ooh La La." I always carry two books with me -- a serious literary classic and a trashy murder mystery. Anyone notice an internal conflict here?