My life is about to change drastically.
I think it began at the beginning of 7th grade, in November of 2008.
My family was eating dinner when my mother said conversationally, “We’re thinking of spending another year in Germany.”
The way she said those life-changing words in that casual tone shocked me so much that I almost choked. “What?!”
“We’re probably going to spend another year in Berlin,” she said, smiling.
“When?” I demanded.
“Don’t yell, sweetheart,” said my mother, her expression changing briefly to annoyed, and then back to pleasant as she continued. “The Wissenschaftskolleg invited us to study again in a year or two. We’ll be going for either your 8th or your 9th grade year. It’s going to be an adventure for all of us.”
My wide eyes darted between my parents’ beaming faces as I grew steadily more angry, until, in a burst of rage, my fierce thoughts came spilling out the moment the words formed in my mind.
“I – cannot – believe – you!” I yelled, and my parents’ faces fell. “We already spent 3rd grade there! And every summer after that! I already speak German! I’ve been there too much to enjoy it anymore. Now we have to go there again? For another year? I’m fed up with Berlin! What about my school? And my friends?! I hate Berlin!”
I stood up and took in my parents’ expressions. They were both frowning.
“Naomi,” said my dad, “you don’t hate Berlin. You love Berlin …”
“Loved,” I corrected him. “Now I’m just sick of it … I’m sick of the whole damn thing!”
“Don’t yell,” said my mother.
“Are you taking in anything I’m saying?!”
“Yes,” she responded automatically. “You don’t want to go to Berlin.”
“But you don’t care, do you?” I said, my voice cold. It wasn’t a question.
“We care!” said my father. “But this is a wonderful opportunity – we thought you’d be excited –“
I chuckled grimly at the hilarity of his statement.
“Oh, yes,” I said, my voice dripping with sarcasm. “Leave my friends and my school and go to a German school full of freaky German kids whose parents are Nazis? Sign me up!”
“Naomi!” my father said loudly, harshly. “That’s a huge generalization – you know that not all Germans are Nazis –“
I did know that, but I was determined to make my parents feel as guilty as possible.
“I’m not going.”
Obviously, my parents weren’t going to give in. For the next few months, we continued to argue about my rights as a member of the family and my own say in going to Germany. Eventually my parents were able to come up with a compromise: that I could decide which year – 8th or 9th grade – to leave for Berlin. I chose 9th – obviously – but I’m beginning to wish I’d chosen to go this year because it would be almost over at this point. Now it’s just beginning. I should have known then that I would have to face this sooner or later.
My parents and I still have loud, furious arguments about the matter; even this morning, my mother and I fought about going to Germany for the umpteenth time. My parents are convinced it will be a wonderful experience for me, whereas I cannot find anything positive in the entire situation.
I don’t want to go. I really, really, really don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave my friends and my house, and I don’t want to miss my first year of high school. But I guess I’m just going to have to do it anyway, and I’ll try to live with that. It could be amazing, after all.
7 years ago