18 years ago, on January 15, 1990, I immigrated with my two children from Germany to the United States of America. Jonathan was two years and two and a half months, Chris was six months young.
I am reminded at this time of this inbetween time – having left the old country but not feeling at home yet in the new. 18 years ago, the New didn’t, at first, seem too different from the Old: people looked pretty much the same, houses, streets, cars, the seasons – there was nothing drastically different. And yet, right underneath the surface, everything was different. Customs, traditions, values, everything. It took a long time to get to really know this new country, to fit in, to know the ropes.
18 years ago, I moved from Germany to the States. Six months ago, I left Manhattan where I had lived for the past 12 years and moved to the Kansas City area, Overland Park first, then Olathe. And again, on the surface there’s not much that would be different: I am still in Kansas, people look the same, the weather’s still the same (though we always seem to be an hour behind Manhattan’s weather). And yet, life is very different.
Much of my identity in Manhattan was tied to being a single mother, and to being the owner of a successful piano studio.
Now, in Olathe, while life as Mark’s lover, companion, best friend, and fiancee is without question very good, and fulfilling, and what I want, the difficulty of building a studio has been very hard to deal with. Though at first I was quite enthusiastic about the possibilities of a new studio in a new city, when it didn’t happen I started to question whether I actually wanted to keep teaching.
What bothers me most about this is that this – phase, this unexpected wrinkle (not being able to teach, or at least not in the manner I was used to in Manhattan), actually presents a unique opportunity: to do all the many things I always wanted to do but didn’t have the time to do because I was too busy teaching – except that I don’t want this opportunity.
For a long time, I have felt that, by stubbornly holding on to the ideal of The Studio (that hasn’t come to be – yet), I am wasting time and this opportunity to do things differently. In a way, I feel like some of the early settlers must have felt when their dream of a new life in a new world didn’t quite mesh with reality. You can’t really go back to the old world, your old life, but life in the new world isn’t what you thought it would be. Now what?