What Do You Expect Me To Do?

What Do You Expect Me To Do?

Seriously, what did you expect me to do? As an American I had no choice but to leave. I also left at the right time. Right now the United States of America is burning literally and figuratively. And I was fully aware of that before it was shown on a world stage. I have been in and out of the states since my 30s and on a forever five year plan to get out. When I met my husband I was already three years into a five year plan to return to Europe for a second life. I wanted to marry, have children, retire in a space where I could be free to be myself. For me personally, I had done everything I knew I had to do  in America to make a life for myself and to share with someone else. I am not accomplished or established per se but I had owned my identity and realized where I was clearly wasn't for me anymore. What is happening now is just a culmination of my entire upbringing and understanding of what it is to be Black in America.

My earliest recollection of the disadvantages of being Black in America happened when I was a girl. I was raised in a so-called bad neighborhood by parents who wanted better for me but couldn't access what was considered better. We still lived in segregation in the 1980s and even living in affluence couldn't be bought by any amount money because of the color of our skin. The only way my parents could let me see the other side of life was through education and for that they paid dearly. I went to prestigious schools the majority of my childhood where I was exposed to affluent and well established families who were exposed to better through birthright, nepotism and privilege. And being apart of this academic exclusiveness from an early age taught me that I didn't quite belong. I endured classism, racism, sexism my entire academic career and I excelled none the less but by the time I was of age I was tired. Being apart of two worlds - at home in the city and educated in the suburbs - was extremely exhausting for me. To survive those experiences unscathed is miraculous. I became a non-conformist and steadfast in my identity which never boded for me well in adulthood.

I loathe respectability politics and it is hard for me to turn on the alternate self I had to be in school for professional and personal relationships. This sometimes makes others believe I am hostile or abrasive. I am not. I may be stoic. I may be stubborn. But I am generally a good person with high moral and ethical standards. I do not guide myself with religion or outside influences. I move about the world with a cadence all about me which is unapologetically Black and unamused at being disenfranchised for it. So the American way of mistreating people and pigeon holing them throughout their lives for being Black or brown is not my speed. I do not go out of my way to fight oppression but I call it out. I refuse to avoid things, places and spaces to appease others who feel I don't belong there. I have been there and done that. I now feel perfectly entitled to whatever I fucking want.  I simply refuse to continue to go about my life in fear or uncomfortable. So with that being said life has been difficult for me. I do not maintain relationships that try to remind me of who I am or put up with injustice because this is simply the way it is. It will never be like this for me. And if I have to Kanye West where I stay to ensure my livelihood I can and will ... always.

So what did you expect me to do?

Stay in that country where they are killing us left and right. Stay there for Walmarts and McDonalds. Stay there because my family and friends are complacent or think the other side isn't as green. No fucking way. I left Germany for a myriad of reasons including many that I left the States for in the first place. However, I can combat what I do not like in Germany without being in fear of losing my life. I cannot do that anymore at where I used to consider home. If I have to sacrifice everything I have ever known to safeguard my life and my future I can and I will. And I will do it in the midst of a global pandemic and a civil uprising. And I did so knowing full and well things may go left and I thought to myself I would rather die trying than to just standby and let shit happen to me and mines. So I monitored all the expat groups and forums that I hate. I tried my best to interact and ask questions around traveling back to Germany. I was met with a lot of opposition, judgement and fuckery but I came to my own conclusions. I figured I would take the risk, take a route that some other brave souls did and if I make it through kontrolle this would be my home. Germany has been my home but I have never felt at home. But right now this is the only home I have. There are no open arms or plates of deviled eggs. However, that little pink "blue" card holds way more weight than my American passport. It was all I had to get me back into this place that I couldn't embrace for the last three years. But I gotta hold on to her as America is burning "now".

Because of Covid-19 I have actively been trying to leave the United States since March. I arrived there around Thanksgiving 2019 and I wished to stay no more than three months. I was having a terrible time with my marriage, immigration and heimweh. I had tried everything I could with my marriage. I had done all the steps to get halfway to citizenship because of my marriage. I had weened myself off the States but was leading a double life where I stayed up at night trying to maintain my American connection. I had to go back. And the plan was to feel things out. To work again, to connect with family and friends and to see what starting over would look like. The first thing that deterred me was trying to work in a city with no mass transit or accommodations. Then I was working for a woman who micro managed and undermined her entire team. I was listening to my co-workers horror stories around being underemployed, underpaid and without appropriate benefits. I was being lead by a woman in her 50s with multiple degrees making $10 an hour with no health insurance. I was coming home to my mothers house that had countless structural issues and overdue repairs that required so much time and money. We were pulled over twice by police during my first week back - her bald from having cancer and me the new girl in town us perceived and profiled as Black men up to no good just shopping for grocery at dusk once I was off work. Then trying to apply for health insurance and being quoted $600+ a month for "Bronze" level coverage while working less than twenty hours a week for $7.25 an hour. And the last straw was having Sallie Mae ask that I begin paying on my student loan again that was originally $5k paid down after interest & fees to $13k now totally at $19k+ after my absence and marriage. How was I supposed to make a living, take care of myself, pay debt and have my goals met? At least I had the luxury of being married to someone with a good job, zero American tax liability or debt and establishment in someplace like Germany. I had to decide that working on my marriage was better than trying to work it out with America. And when you factor in Tonald Drump, an environmental disaster every other week and trying to fight the system to get to work on time each day - I figured now was as good a time as any to officially make Germany my home in my heart and mind. Then came the fucking Coronavirus!

The virus made everything full circle and showed up on a leap year on the cusp of Aquarius and Pisces. On February 28th I flew out west to a friends house for some much needed R & R. By that Sunday, March 1st the new world order had begun with people climbing store shelves and depleting supplies. A day later people were announcing infection without travel or exposure to someone who had traveled. And by the time I returned to my mothers on the east coast the virus had made its way to every single state in the union but West Virginia. Days later events canceled, sports seasons postponed, travel interrupted and life as we knew it was over. The return flight I had booked two weeks out was cancelled when I would have been en route to the out of state airport in a rental car. It was unfortunate and callous but the night before I rescheduled the flight anyways without telling anyone including my own husband who was awaiting my return. I had anticipated planes being grounded and martial law coming so I chose to use that rental car and drive to nearby cities stockpiling food and supplies for a long haul quarantine. And sure enough that very Monday we were told to shelter in place. And I have done that since March 14th respectively. My mother and I only went out to replenish our food. We started a garden and compost. We began baking our own bread and making masks. And I expected to be there indefinitely as I was not a citizen of Germany nor an established American. I didn't cry. I didn't sulk. I let my husband in Germany know we would just have to be apart and I tried multiple times to get back home. We had flights canceled, routes redirected, rule changes, restrictions imposed and we both had to endure. He supported me by mailing things like poultry scissors and dutch ovens. I began actively communicating, doing virtual counseling and Zoomed. This was our new normal. An unseparated separation and an inconvenient circumstance. After sometime we acknowledged the loneliness and uncertainty of it all. He was working from home with a cat for three months. I was with a senior, cancer survivor and a cat & dog in country for six months, one week and a day.

When someone mentioned Amsterdam as a portal to Germany I leapt to it. The UK wouldn't allow me to travel with my dog in cabin. Turkish Airlines had grounded its entire fleet and Turkey stopped all pet & livestock travel. Germany had repatriate flights but no inbound flights for non-citizens. I also couldn't book any flight over 12 hours with a pet in tow. Then came baggage which was difficult as six months into it I had amassed a lot of stuff. I could leave it all behind but when would I be able to go back "home" and how could I ship things abroad? I had come in a 15 kilo down filled coat and snow boots and now it was summer. My mother was off loading heirlooms, family photos and thrifted clothes to me. I had to go with my dog and what about her food and its needs. I was torn. At the airport I was forced to offload over 25 lbs of stuff. I had to take my purse off and roll it up placing it in my backpack. I had to force a non-traveled dog in a 28 cm long bag. I had to wear a mask between two airports, multiple trams and a cross Atlantic eight hour plus ride. I would do so knowing full and well the Netherlands pass control could send me right back. In actuality, that little stupid card let me right through. The silly card I sat in Deutschkurs and Integration for. That card I begged rude clerks in the Ausländerbehorde for. That card that allowed me to stop bringing my passport everywhere. And no one checked the $300 worth of paperwork for my dog. No one confiscated the chicken based dog snacks, Trader Joes cocoa powder or ten lbs. worth of canned Rotel from me. I was able to collect my four suitcases and pass through unmanned customs with no questioned asked. The only loose requirement given to me was by a masked Dutchmen just outside the plane was to quarantine for fourteen days. And even he seemed really uneasy telling me. It was like an afterthought. And between the NL and Germany the borders sat overgrown and unmanned as they have been since the 90s. And now back in Köln the streets are dotted with people free to do whatever they want as this is the NRW. I will abide the Dutchman as I am über grateful to be eating ente ramen at 1:34am Berlin time. I walk the dog in a mask and move when the youth walk by with no precaution or concern.

So what do you expect me to do?

Make every social media post about my alliance and solidarity? You want me to donate to bail funds and global kitchens? You want me to stay abreast by seeing a man killed over and over again or better yet seeing the police state continue to abuse Americans? You want me to be on Twitter and spread fake and recycled news about the president and all his good men? I am jet lagged and perfectly aware that water stays wet especially so in the United States of America. A place where an education can get you far and it can never be repossessed or revoked. However, you will still pay despite hardships, contributions, good faith or pressed clothes. Again, respectability politics will get you nowhere ... globally. Germany isn't going to give me a pass for me marrying one of their pigheaded farm boys or knocking twice when my number is called. If my papers are in a three prong binder or wrinkled in my back pocket it is totally up to the system to say whether I belong or not. However the difference is I can still walk away with my life. And if Germany gets to be too much again there is an entire world out there waiting for me. But what I won't do is dwell on a country with a people who dragged my ancestors there and believe I owe them something for their "good" deed. I would rather be a fucking immigrant in an apologetic country than a citizen dead on the gold paved streets for all eyes to see. America burn bitch! And when the smoke clears I hope you all will see the error in her fucked up ways. And know it isn't all about the martyr, father and son you have slain. It is more about the way it has always been burning since the tea. And I don't feel obligated to do a got damn thing from over here but watch.

Are your expectations met now? You respect my choices? Fick dich!