Quality of Life


Quality of Life

America was my last stop at socialization and like minded conversation. I do not get German humor or its level of inquiry when having casual conversation nor am I remotely close to being conversational auf Deutsch. When interfacing with Germany, I find it hard to translate. I am always met with the inevitable question about comparing my former life in the States to my current circumstances here. I also feel like it's a trick question. I mean who would say America is better than Germany? And who would argue that the quality of life one has here hadn't improved since leaving the Wild, Wild West? I am being sarcastic. I whole heartedly believe that my life has not improved since moving abroad. I also do not rave about Germany being the 180 life turner that I needed or wanted. And after my recent visit back home I know now that I have the "anywhere but here" sentiment about everywhere I have even been more than a week (well except Malaga, Spain cause that is Heaven) ((and Vabali)) but no Germany isn't better than and it hasn't moulded me into a better person who can breathe. Unlike most people who are happy with internet and clean water. It takes a lot more than that for me to even wake up each day.

What is Quality of Life? 

Well it differs for most people. For Americans, it ranges widely depending on ones region, upbringing, finances etc. I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth nor was I raised poor. I do not know what quality of live means to those two individuals. As someone raised primarily in a two parent, upper middle class, Baptist/Catholic, northeastern American home all I know is I didn't want for much or miss out on anything. So as an adult I didn't have to leave my hometown or runaway to a university to feel safe, independent or truly access "real" life. Living ten minutes from New York City I was capitulated into adult themed experiences that prepared me for all the facets of real life. Classism, Homelessness, Drugs, Narcissism, Crime, Affluenza etc. When we moved to Florida I saw the other side of things. Poverty, Racism, Illiteracy, Vapidity and more. That slow, Southern, Bible Belt yet mentally free side of life that someone in the midwest or west coast would long for. And later seeing what California does to people, how it mellows you out just to make you health conscious, risk oriented and vain. Seriously, you have to be fucking insane to buy a million dollar studio apartment on an earthquake fault just for 70 degree weather year round. I admire those who switch sides to get to the peace of mind or insanity they long for. I admit that was never a need for me living in Florida. I personally have seen it all. Germany ain't got shit on what I have already had, gave up, chosen and walked away from. 

For those fleeing war or modern day oppression, Germany is a safe haven in the same way New York has streets paved of gold for a small town girl. For me the rose colored glasses I formed living in the land of magic, beaches and Mickey Mouse were smashed the moment I arrived here. And coming back recently I felt the exact same way if not worse. Köln is a dirty, grimy city full of vagrants and drug addicts who are openly doing the most because they can (Germany claims those who want help can get it so all these people all over the streets ahem chose that for themselves).The sweet grannies and old man shopkeepers are vulgar, accusatory kissen Omas and tit grazing Opas who all speak Kölsch and stare at me on trains. The food is bland and uninteresting. The shopping contrived and merely functional. The culture is a weird private underworld of nobodies who think they are apart of the world's greatest whose who's. I couldn't penetrate that bizarre world if I wanted or paid. Germany doesn't really do active socialite nor does it like philanthropy especially with its own. There is no Paris Hilton or Melinda Gates of Köln unless it involves ordering the biggest frock a year in advance of the next Karneval or having the best operation from a spargel und erdbereen dinner party. And I'm not 60 yet.

I will say the basic qualifiers of life are not freedom and liberty nor is it wealth or fame. It is also more to most folk than clean air, water and the illusion of safety. It truly is reliable housing, local and nutritious food sources, affordable health care and accessible education. It is transportation resources, infrastructure that works and trustworthy government. And in my head, as far as I could remember, I thoughts had all of that in America. Keywords I and thought. And coming to Germany, that all seemed like a gamble and something I had to figure out then beg and plead for. For me all of that was given to me never having to ask in the U.S. And what I had was efficient, reliable and plain good. City Rewe is okay. It is close, there is nutritious variety and I am not deprived of anything. But I was walking distance from Fresh Market like a New Yorker has proximity to Whole Foods. This worked for me and most Manhattanites but not for those on the west side of Orlando or anyone living in the Bronx. This is the case for the majority of Americans. Those who require a vehicle to buy milk, bread and oranges. Those who risk jail to put their child in a better yet farther education system. For the ones that must take on roommates to afford a place to live. For those who work three jobs just to pay their bills. For those who cannot access libraries, museums and cinemas, not because of cost or distance but because they do not exist. For those people, Germany may be an eye opening experience and their first chance to accessibility for what I consider basic admission to quality of life. So I don't see what they see here or anywhere really. I was just fine. I was better than fine. And better than after seeing it all.

And perhaps for those stuck in situations they may not like they can enhance what it is they do have. Life can be curated and it doesn't always involve place, money or time. You can create more time by waking earlier, planning out your days and grabbing life by the reigns. You can also make it more desirable by taking yoga or Zumba at the community center. You can branch out at local farmers markets or an out of town thrift shop. You can take your morning coffee outside or walk the dog a little bit longer. You can make your life better in situations that aren't too bad. If you are in a dense area you can visit the park. If you are in a rural area you can go into the city once a month for a cultural excursion. If you are lonely you can go to a Meetup or join an online dating site. There are options to create a life worth living in the States or anywhere really. Building your life to your own specs can distract you from waiting months for a doctors appointment or seeking asylum in a xenophobic state. You can literally pretend that life is far better than it actually is. Instagram is a perfect example. You can also escape and build an imaginary life in Pinterest or SiMS. For me having eis is a cut to being in Florence or Rome but without the touristy push and shove. I can tune out Germas tatutatas and pretend there isn't graffiti everywhere or someone asking me for trinkgeld. I can say I am having a gigantic punchbowl of ridiculously plated gelato and forget about my purse being in a chair next to me. But I could also do that in Winter Park back home. So I find it hard to believe Germany is the end all be all. I am not thankful to her for giving me anything that I didn't already have whether I did it or not. I didn't paddle board on the lake but I could if I wanted to. The lake nearest to me has beer cans in it. I digress. 

I could move to a quainter, quieter German city that will turn my sentiments on their head. It could be the perfect pace I didn't know I wanted. It could offer a doctor that listens. It could have jalepenos in the store all year round. It could have a park with paved lanes I can roller skate on and magically a pair of size 42 skates would just appear. The quality would just shoot through the roof being the utmost epitome of personal fulfillment. This isn't sarcasm. This is what I hope for as we dabble with moving. But I also know I have hopped for a lot since moving here and I haven't gotten anything before. I feel like Germany is soul crushing. I think I am allergic to its air. I feel like even Transylvania is better.  What I do know with recent experience is that America ain't it either. That the life I once had and curated for myself is no longer attainable. The rent is too high. The chicken isn't being processed. The potholes are insane. And that people have zero quality of life even when they pretend that they do. Everyone is working a lot and consumerism enables them to do anything of purpose. Buying things is what encourages people to do the things they should be able to do without buying anything at all. You can picnic without buying all the seasonal niceties from Target. You can make a sammich, put it in a napkin and go to the park anytime. Americans let the fact that their taco blanket from China being late to arrive keep them from enjoying what they already have. The sun. The grass. I too am guilty as I didn't know what was outside. I was too busy having weekend brunches and working all week in windowless malls. Germany didn't teach me to go to the biergarten. Germany just shoved it in my face that I can do that versus the television. But I hate television so I am an anomaly. For everyone else probably stuck on stupid Germany is a land of plenty and so much better than. But I invite them to make a list of what they had versus now and if it doesn't include war, jail or starvation they probably had it all along. Now if Germany whispered in their ear to embrace it via inebriation and allergies so be it. But that isn't worth the bureaucracy and bullshit make you jump through now is it?