9/15 - Part 5

Mid-September marked another milestone that offered more opportunities for reflections. September 16th is when I first set foot on US ground at Kennedy airport, 24 years old, a cultural refugee from the banking capital of Europe, in search of my soul, my creative expression, my deeper, or as I like to call it Lower, rather then Higher Self.

Four years of living in Manhattan had made my prior dream of living in San Francisco, another big city, unappealing. My coat to coast trip across the US that started out in a Hippie Magic Bus had given me a taste for the immensity and awe inspiring beauty of this land. It had gotten me to wonder about a small American town, pleasing and diverse enough to be worth living in.

28 years ago we arrived in the City Different in his red Toyota pick up. At the Coop bulletin board we found a note for a rental of a studio on Cerro Gordo, a rather picturesque part of town as it turned out. Next day he had a job and I was stuck up on the hill. 30 years old I had not yet learned how to drive a car, although I had taken every opportunity to practice behind the wheels of his truck earlier that year. (Curvy highway 1 got on his nerves though and he would dampen my enthusiasm by taking the steering wheel back in to his own experienced hands.)

Anemic and suffering a staph infection I had a rather hard time adjusting to what must have been the altitude. I woke during the nights struggling to catch my breath while during the days I felt tired and limited not only by my energy, but also my budget, I was broke. It took me nine months to find a position in a spa in my profession as a massage therapist. The spa business was then not yet booming as it would be in only a few more years. It took less then two weeks to realize that I was not for all practical purposes in Mexico, even though we are only a six hours drive from the border. Was I surprised when the rooster woke me to a magical, white landscape. It had snowed in late September! These were the times before computers and learning anything and everything on the internet. Following my inner guides and promptings it had never occurred to me to consult outer guides such as maps much less tourist manuals. So our 7,000 feet and then some altitude was a big surprise to me. Having grown up with measurements of meters and centimeters, I still have trouble comprehending the meaning of anything measured in feet, my Germanic mind just can not grasp such an imprecise measurement.

I did learn to drive eventually. I still feel thankful that parallel parking was not part of my test. Downtown parking and traffic congestion had not yet become a  problem, there still were plenty of open spaces downtown and wherever the eye would wander off to, especially for one who had lived in one of the most densely populated cities of Europe, in Amsterdam.

So here I am having lived in the City Different now for 28 years. Some friends thought I had it made, that I was living the American Dream once I owned my own home and drove a brand new car. Of course living the American Dream was not, has never been and will never be my dream. Living a life of consumerism and materialism is not what brought me to the US. These days I wonder if in an attempt to escape the suffocating materialism of my place of origin, Zurich, Switzerland I fell from what we would say 'Regen in die Traufe'?

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