Sometimes I can feel them when I first wake up in the morning. These days. These are the days when you start to wake up and wish you hadn’t yet. You just weren’t ready. I wasn’t ready. It feels like when my pup Luna refuses to get out of bed (pic sent to me from Ruth to illustrate such a thing).
These days are the ones when you know it can either go one way or the other but you have to get up in order to know. Sometimes I can comprehend why I will have one of these days. But today I wasn’t expecting it.
I felt a bit tired when I got up and not quite ready to get out of bed but also knew that I needed to. I needed to get up and study for the day’s language school. This is day 3 of 16 of language school. It is challenging for me but in a good way but today I could tell my brain was already tired. I studied vocab and tried to remember numbers. Why can’t my brain just recall this stuff? Why can’t I remember numbers for goodness sake? And then while Ana was on the phone I pulled myself together to get going but I felt tired and a little reluctant to go.
And then I got to school and got a cup of coffee. Crap. My brain is so tired I remember nothing. I coaxed myself into thinking it wouldn’t be so bad. And then we began to review what we had just learned yesterday and I just…couldn’t…get it. Most of the time it feels as though I am getting the majority of what the instructor is saying in German but today it felt more like just a foreign language and my brain didn’t have the capacity to try that hard.
It was ok. It was ok and I was getting most of it until the last 45 minutes and then it was if my brain was on strike in the precise moment our instructor said, “Ok, now we will each tell a story of some back or embarrassing luck in the present perfect tense and speak of it in the past.” And just like that my brain decided to peace out which made my friend anxiety show up on the scene which never NEVER helps the memory when it comes to a foreign language. And just like that….all vocab seemed to take flight from my mind. All of it. Every last bit.
As luck would have it, I wasn’t the only one so we partnered up. My partner in crime though had this one down and is very direct for this nice American so it felt even more strenuous and to top it all off, what I thought German sounded like in my brain would NOT come out of my mouth that way.
My partner and I decided to right a dialogue and I even contributed as my good friend panic subsided. I put in much emotion so as to cover up my many grammatical and pronounced mistakes. I was corrected quite a bit by our instructor but I waded through. I have hiked the Pyrenees, I can do this (or at least this was my mantra). Another duo went way more into detail, another duo did just fine and one duo refused to do any of it. My partner made a joke at the end, “after 5 years of living here, I am glad I picked that up.”
I walked home sulking. Why isn’t this coming easier? Why doesn’t my mouth comply with my brain? Why can’t I make those sounds like I want to? Why can’t I get this concept? Why did I think I could take German? Why am I doing this?
Here is what I have discovered…when things feel really really really hard…like hard to take the next step…it quickly devolves into horrible homesickness. That lightness I have felt the past 4 or 5 days in which I love walking home and stopping in at the bakery and the wine shop and the produce stop quickly falls into missing my taco place and my friends house and my fav coffee place in Portland so by the time I got home I was in full blown downward spiral.
I made myself lunch and took the dog we are sitting out on a long walk. I ruminated and beat myself up more about my mistakes. Then I decided….cake! I need cake! I hurried to my fav coffeeshop here where there is amazing cake but also the woman who own it are becoming friends and I knew they would understand.
I walked into Hom (the shop) and went to the counter and said, “Hanna, I need cake. German school was rough.”
She turned around and looked up and said, “Good God, did you have to dwell in grammar today? How many pieces can I cut you?”
I went home and ate cake and cried to Ana who was amazingly sympathetic. Then I plugged my earphones in, turned on my Ani Difranco play list and walked to the UBahn station to head to a friend’s house to take care of their cats. Here is where I am taking stock of the day. Here is what I am learning today…
- Even though it is hard. This is normal. In a room full of people who have lived here much longer than me (5 years or more while I have been here 3 months) I can’t expect to know as much. I also just started hearing German words a year ago.
- Hard things are worth doing and sometimes we just have these days.
- Glennon Melton Doyle recently said on Instagram to a fan who asked, “How do you deal with grief?” “I treat grief like the flu,” she said, “I am easier on myself and treat myself with kindness. I rest and drink lots of water. I treat myself as if I need to give myself time to deal.” When I hit these waves, they are waves of grief in some ways so cake, crying and time are all appropriate responses. As well as writing while I cuddle with kitties.
- Tomorrow will be better and still challenging but I will have gotten through today and will build back up my stores.
- I get to treat learning as my job right now. What a privilege and it is well time spent to grow and challenge self.
- Sometimes I just have these days.
- German is freaking hard! I get major points for still doing the exercise (some didn’t) and struggling through it.
So dear ones, when you are facing waves of grief or hardness or just a day be kind to yourself and know you are not alone.
Thanks for listening.