It was September 2nd, 1994. This is when I saw the first sky of someplace not America. America: Disneyland of varying intensity. I stepped-out from Berlin Tegel Airport, and in between dragging my luggage and keeping-up with Grit and her family, I looked-up.

I might as well have been looking at the sky from a different planet.

The clouds were low, and it was cool and clammy outside. And it smelled altogether different. But the sky’s color; it was a different shade and mix of white, gray, and pale blue. I heard the line “… we aren’t in Kansas anymore” go through my head. Why couldn’t I have felt welcomed by it, like the way the tall, puffy clouds in Florida make you feel like you are someplace warm and easy? The sky had a caste to it similar to how the skys in Wisconsin are… but still different enough to strike me as totally foreign.

My reaction to seeing the sky was but an ominous, homeopathic dose of what was waiting for me… had I known, I would never have left Nashville. Thank God for un-knowing.

The parking lot was not asphalt. It was something I have only seen in Europe, unfortunately. A smart construction of a concrete honeycomb with grass growing in the empty spaces. It creates a grassy but firm surface. And this paragraph is probably the most boring thing I’ve written in my blog here-to-fore. 🙂

I remember seeing a Police van, with a woman in the back of it… and she was crying. I wondered why, and I think Grit said that she might have had her car stolen, and was filing a report. I don’t know if that was a guess or fact. But I can still vaguely see her face. Little did I know, that I had just witnessed a very rare sight: A German crying in public. I only saw it happen one other time, when a young cashier was fired from the supermarket I frequented. I have seen many people every year in Nashville crying in public, or in their car, and our population is nowhere near as dense. After a couple of years of being in Chemnitz, I began to notice small but significant differences between there and my home.

And after Dietmar, Grit’s father, had heaved and stuffed my box into the back of his mercedes, we were off… and in turning out of the parking lot of the airport, we passed by a large concrete condominium. And I saw this woman.

I saw a woman, whose face still is slightly haunting. Firstly, I was amazed at how tightly packed all the roads and structures were to one another… and as she was opening the door to her car, my gaze caught hers. She was an attractive young woman, of muscular build, and in her work-out leotards. But it was the look on her face that struck me. She looked so serious. So stoned-faced, but intense. And she looked at me for what seemed like a long time, but it couldn’t have been more than a second. And I guess that was the first time I really saw the face of Germany; but it would become my everyday reality. I make it sound dreadful, and awful. Well, it isn’t so bad as that… but there was a void of spirit there that many tried to explain, or to compensate for, but couldn’t because it was so impalpable in nature.