January 12, 2017
The other night listening to President Obama’s farewell address, I was struck by this poignant time of endings, and beginnings. That first family, those four tall and graceful people, who seem to genuinely like each other, will be departing. The incoming administration is a bit of a cypher. It feels a like a step into the unknown.
On February 16th, I will fly to Frankfurt, on my way to three months in Berlin. I’ve been fiddling with a historical novel (set in Nazi Berlin) for a couple of years now. I thought I could do enough research on my October trip, but saw pretty quickly that a longer attempt is needed. This trip feels like a step into the unknown.
Our family lived in Germany when I was ages nine to eleven. It was a tough time — my German-born father had severe PTSD (forced-labor camp during the war), and we, his children, young and powerless, got the worst of it. Our fear and isolation, his rage and personality changes, the German language and people’s stares all got mixed into one big “ick” for a long time. On our last trip, my sister and I agreed that we no longer felt the need to protect ourselves from “Germany” and the feelings it brings up. How will that be, I have to wonder, when I’m there without my sister? It feels like a step into the unknown.
I’m leaving my little yellow house in good hands — my neighbors Dustin and Kelsey will be renting it with an option to buy. They showed me a little map of their plan for the back yard last night before we signed the lease — many good and beautiful ideas that they are young and strong enough to make into reality. Hard to admit it, but I overshot with this house — so much renovation needed and even though I did a lot to it, I gradually ran out of money and energy and enthusiasm. Yet i certainly got used to having a “home base.” Not having that feels like a step into the unknown.
Travel: A ticket. No keys. A limited choice of shoes and clothes. Two heavy suitcases. A cat in a carrier. Another cat left at a friend’s house. A step into the unknown.
There is an insight-gathering tool that uses ancient Scandinavian symbols, the Runes. One of them, Dagaz, looks like an angular infinity symbol. It speaks of “radical trust” and “an empty-handed leap into the void.” I think of this now, as our nation prepares for a new president, and as I start this journey.
One foot is suspended over the void. Now the next step.
Here we go.