Saturday, September 13, 2008

a new European

(Pat Blashill is currently winging his way home from a mountain holiday of undiverted bliss. As he makes his way, please enjoy this vintage July 2005 brew of self-doubt and hapless hope.....)

I left home this morning, with my new cel phone in my new computer bag, and my new (short short) haircut. I was soon pedaling fast on my new bike, along the Donaukanal, past Schwedenplatz, on my way to pick up my (re)new(ed) passport, feeling almost like a new European. I don't know exactly why, but I thought to myself, 'I'm starting to get the hang of this.' I felt light and graceful. Maybe it was because I had forgotten my bike helmet. But I realized that maybe, just maybe, I will eventually feel like I belong here, that I fit into this place, just another guy on a bicycle, going to work in an uncomplicated fashion, here in Vienna.

I haven't written anything down since the night before we left New York. The next day, when we left the Lower East Side in the car service minivan, all my fantasies about escaping from New York became a punchline. I'd always wanted to look back on Manhattan, through a rearview window as we crossed one of the bridges, and think to myself, "So long, motherfucker. I got more outta you than you cut outta me." When it finally happened, as I actually did look out the rearview window, past Anette and Adinah, who were talking and playing quite comfortably in the backseat, I couldn't even see Manhattan. All of our baggage was blocking my view.

Since that day, Anette and I both taught courses at an American University called Webster; Anette has pretty much accepted a year-long teaching position in Innsbruck (which will mean she commutes to that city--five hours away--and stays there for three days of the week, while I stay back in Wien with the kid); Adinah has started going to Kinderkrippe, a public pre-school, and she loves it, especially the buttered bread, and the two little boys named Vincenz and Alexander; and I have begun looking for a job, which is currently opening up all sorts of middle-age despair, ennui and wee-wee in me. Moving to Vienna is a great opportunity to reinvent myself. But as what, as who?

But the real problem--my night-time friend, my demonic buddy--gnawing away at me, giving me a thousand-yard-stare when I'm supposed to be listening to my wife tell me about her day, is something else: What happened to me, back there, somewhere around age 38, 39? Did I lose it, just fumble my career away out of ineptitude and arrogance? Will I ever get it--or another one--back? Is it all over for me? Why am I not famous yet? I dreamed of so much More for myself.....

and yet, today is a beautiful day in this amazing old city. I am with a beautiful woman--in fact, we were married four years ago to this day. Our daughter is a ray of (almost) pure sunshine. I've got a bitchin' new bike. We've got plenty of food in our refrigerator. The only thing I've lost is what I gave away, and what I've gained is a wonderful family and another day to enjoy them. I'm going to take Lynryd Skynryd's advice. I'm going to try to be a simple kind of man. With an American accent.

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