Seven days ago my earthly remains have arrived in Vienna after spending 9 weeks in the US. As my fellow fellows know, I haven’t spent a lot of time in one place, so at least I didn’t get used to a specific city or a specific hotel room. I have gotten used to my fellow fellows. I miss them so much, it hurts.
They say after a relationship you hurt half the length of time you were in this relationship. Although I have experienced otherwise, I hope this time it is true. And that after 3 ½ weeks from now, I will start to cherish the memories without missing them so badly.
We were all from different cultures, different backgrounds, different family situations. At first we were probably a little reserved towards each other. We did the thing of emailing us before we actually met and most of us tried to be on their best behaviour – within the mails and within the first days of contact. And that even although everybody knows that nobody likes anybody who is perfect.
But after the first days the first flaws started to emerge within each of us. And I am a sucker for flaws. I fall in love with people who hurt and cry or laugh at jokes where one shouldn’t laugh. It is when trust is born. And I trust my fellow fellows completely. And vice versa they got so used to me that they could read my face and knew what I was about to say or do (and tried to stop me).
Here in Vienna my people are estranged. A very old friend asked me today on the phone, if I meant to insult her (I asked here if she had time to see me in between her obligations. She didn’t. But she didn’t like my assumption that she probably is very occupied. She is). I have heard that it is impossible to read my face with my glasses that I am now wearing constantly due to an eye infection (not true: my fellow fellows excelled at it).
When my people – friends and parents — meet me, they feel the obligation to ask „How was it?“ I dreaded the question because it is not easy to pack the experience in a conversation of the length of one or two beers. And I dreaded it because it is not easy to convey the emotions. But still – I tried. And after a minute or two I saw them glancing at the door. So each time I changed the subject: What’s new with you? And they told me about people who have fallen out - or who have fallen in – with each other. How work has been. How the visits to the doctor went. And I was relieved. On the one hand, because there had been no changes. And because I could stir the conversation toward common ground. So my 9 weeks in the US will forever be an experience that I am sharing exclusivly with 9 different people from different continents. Which is kind of sad that it will only rest in me in Vienna. But it is kind of cool, that this experience of North America is spreaded not only to Europe, but also to Asia, to Australia, to Africa and to South America. We got them covered.