Monday, December 14, 2009

A Real Wiener

I went to the doctor twice last week. The first time, she told me, "You're not sick, but you're not well." The second time, I told her, "I didn't get worse." She said, "But you didn't get better."

That's like my feelings about Vienna. I don't love it but I don't hate it. I love our apartment and our comforts--I don't love the pinched, pissed-off faces on the subway. I love the gothic beauty and the industrial ugliness of the city--I don't love the weather. I love the deep sadness of this place, but I hate the deep sadness of this place.

Like New Yorkers, the Viennese don't seem to know (or care) too much about the world beyond the city limits. Like Los Angelenos, the Wiener and Wienerin mistakenly believe they are living in a real city (as opposed to, respectively, a vast outdoor mall and a swollen, self-important village.) Like Austinites, the Viennese like to shoot the breeze, and that may occasionally involve talk about the meaning of life. That's not likely to happen in all of the villages of this world.

I guess I get like this whenever someone asks me why I'm living over here with a bunch of old Nazis, or when the possibility that we may leave Vienna arises. Both of these things happened to me this week. Meh. Whatever.

My colleague Maggie might say we are in homeostasis. A state of balance. Which probably means I should brace myself. Somebody's about to pull the rug out from underneath me.


Lisa said...

I know exactly what you are talking about. I would love to be in that bliss of having THAT question just be gone. But I have to say, this is the only place where I have lived that I seem to be always contextualizing things, a kind of self awareness that I value. I live in terror of that moment when my decision to stay here will be truly challenged.

Kim said...

As a third culture guy with a third culture family, what's the likelihood you could live anyplace without feeling this kind of ambivalence? If you find it, tell me where it is! :) Actually, I have come to embrace that sense of imbalance in my life because it reminds me how fortunate I am to have been part of such varied communities and cultures.