This evening, I had a short conversation on Facebook Messenger (of all places) with an old friend that I had not spoken to in two years. She bumped into a horrible old picture of me on a field excursion we enjoyed together during our Biology studies, I think this particular expedition was in 2009. She somehow felt the need to share it with me. I’m glad that she did. We had a short but fun conversation. Two people with an awkward sense of humor and few verbal boundaries. Surely that will make for a fun talk. I guess there’s some value in social media.
One of the things I realized when I jokingly suggested she should move here so I’d have some friends, is that it’s pretty sad. This fucked up pandemic has completely ruined my social life. I know and like many of my colleagues, but all the restrictions have made it so that I never went for a beer with any of them. I hardly ever see them. We have a laugh every now and then in the rare moments we do meet, so there surely is potential. It’s just that there has been very little ‘longevity’ in the interactions, because it is all just so messed up right now. What’s missing is that deep connection – this could be a shared passion for something, long in-depth conversations about subjects (that are not necessarily work), a click in mutual weirdness, humor, and potentially a few others. I miss sharing these (that is, with others than my sweet, weird, funny and awesome conversationalist life partner).
It’s not that we have no connections here. We have made a few connections with sweet people that we meet up with when the corona regulations allow it, but I guess they don’t ‘get’ me. I always feel the odd one out. Maybe it is also that I try to maintain most of my relationships in Germany in German. I’m a guest here, so I will adapt. German has only very recently become my third-best language (after Dutch and English), and until only two years ago, at the conversational level it would be similar to my French or Spanish. My language inundation here has resulted in a steep learning curve. Regardless, it is not easy to have a deep and meaningful conversation with someone in a language that you’re not super confident about. Comedic wordsmithery is of course out of question. The deep connect is hard to find. These things are perhaps a bit different for my wife Heike. Even though she grew up in The Netherlands, she’s born German, and German is still her mother tongue (even though she probably has a thick Dutch accent, he he). The established German relationships here are much more important to her, I think because it facilitates connecting deeply. Maybe she’s also just not as weird.
I can’t wait for this corona shit to be over and life to somehow turn to normal or close to it. I want to hang out with colleagues that speak the same language and lingo (being English and ecology). I want to see my friends and family in other countries. I want to nourish existing and novel deep connections before I turn full-on awkward penguin. I’m getting there, I can tell you that. Maybe this is also why I’m rambling my words onto a screen every evening. I would almost consider a single-person podcast so I can regularly have long conversations with no one in particular.
I need it, before it’s too late.