Freitag, 17. April 2015

Surf. Cook. Eat. Surf again.

Should I never return to Germany, it won’t be because of the nice landscape or even California’s sunny weather, 
I will simply not have found my way back home and will be helplessly wandering through the grid of numbered streets. 

For even if the esteemed reader thinks I am living/experiencing a dream here – not all is golden in the Golden State! 

But first things first: 

1. The streets.

For some incomprehensible reason the Americans gave their streets not simply names, but consecutive numbers. 
A handful of them do have names, such as Capitola Road (because it takes you to Capitola) or Pacifica Road (as it takes you to…well, guess!) – but that’s about it. 
The rest of them happily received continuous numbers, and I still have NO CLUE where I am and am consequently surprised over the moon when I arrive back home. 
And believe me: the kids are happy, too. 

(If somebody now makes the point of “why don’t you use your GPS?” – very funny. I AM USING IT. Sometimes one highway or the other has 6 lanes and I really don’t have the slightest idea which one is the one in question.) 

My husband, who visited us recently, instinctively remembered all directions after just 3 days; and kept trying to roughly teach them to me: 
"It’s a logical sequence: here we have 41st street, just turn left twice and then we arrive at 17th street, we live on…etc.” 

Nice try, but in vain; I just looked at him in wonder, until finally he got it: 
 "You have no idea right now what I’m talking about, right?” 
Maybe I know exactly what I’m doing in many areas of life; when it comes to a sense of orientation I lost out on more than a few synapses. 
Thanks for nothing.

Since all these numbers were already handed out to the streets, sadly none were left for: 

2. The coins.

No kidding.
None of the coins have ANYTHING written on them; you are therefore forced to learn their value by their shape: the big silver one is a quarter, the small brown one….etc. 

This, of course, is a great strategy when you are at the check-out, knowing there is a line behind you, and you start trying to remember the values of the coins like a Kindergarten child: “Just a second…um…what exactly was the small brown one?” 

Let’s assume there are German immigrants, already overwhelmed by the street situation – let’s just assume, just for fun! – how grateful would they be at the checkout, if they were able to, chop, chop …. Oh, let’s not go there. 

And if that wasn’t enough already, we could also talk about: 

3. The parking meters.

Every single one of them has a different system and every time it is a new little adventure to see how it works. 
Some are really easy to operate, others require you to simply press 491 buttons and everything’s hunky-dory. 

As a consequence I feel compelled to instantly pin a medal to my chest after each successful parking/payment event. 
Sometimes the children and I spontaneously cheer when it has all worked out. 
(Or when we have arrived at our destination without getting completely lost). 

Same for getting gas; you walk into the gas station FIRST, announce the amount, then press only 492 buttons, insert the nozzle…etc. 

Of course I can do this easily.

Something that’s a real challenge for me: 

4. The food.

Not directly the act of eating, but everything that has to do with it: shopping, preparation, etc. 

What I hadn’t been aware of so far: 
After years of staying at home most things work automatically in this area. 
In Germany I could blindly cook 15 different dishes, just from the pantry and leftovers in the fridge. 
I am sure this is the same for you: 
Even without shopping list grocery shopping always looks more or less exactly the same, you know where the products are in the grocery store, the family’s preferences, you have your umpteen standard recipes stored in your memory and most of the time you just go with the flow in your kitchen – chop, chop, here is something delicious! 

Here in California, however, I laboriously have to find out about everything first; on one hand it is fun, on the other hand it definitely takes three times as long and translates to a lot more effort (at least in the beginning)! 

When we were out and about someone recently asked us what we do all day long and my children answered without thinking: 
"We surf. We buy food. We cook food. We eat food. We clean the kitchen. We surf again. We buy food again. We cook again. We eat food..."

On one hand there is an endless selection of products in the grocery stores, on the other hand the selection is very limited on the farmers’ markets, as in fact exclusively local and seasonal produce is sold here. 
So a lot of things are missing that had been integrated before.   

In addition I am confronted with food items that I haven’t worked with before, but now am more or less forced to include in the meal plan in order to mix it up a little. 

As I mentioned earlier: I truly have a lot of fun with this and enjoy it a lot, but I still require a lot of time for the whole thing. 
It just takes a while until a kind of routine has emerged. 

By the way: in order to purchase food I first have to find the grocery stores, see paragraph #1. 

And to add one more: 
Espresso tastes simply horribly sour in most coffee shops, as if someone added the juice of half a lemon. 

For this reason I bought a small espresso maker and a pound of espresso beans at Starbuck’s – it’s a little more effort at lunchtime, but since everything takes longer already anyway, it doesn’t really matter in the end. 

I enjoy every little everyday challenge and truly enjoy the time to the max. 
I enjoy cruising through town with the children, music turned up high, boards sticking out the back, the warm wind cooling the skin pleasantly. 
I enjoy the ocean and the sun. 
I enjoy discovering new locations and to browse through thrift stores with Noelle (who, by the way, is a hard-core thrift shopper, fearless in the face of any crowds). 
I enjoy waiting for the children with Hayda, the surf teacher’s dog; the children insist on going surfing every day, even if they have no lesson, sometimes even in the evening at sunset, which is hard to top in terms of beauty. 

Hard to top in terms of beauty is, above all, the atmosphere around me: 
It isn’t the sun, it isn’t the sea, it isn’t the house, nor the children.
It isn’t the landscape, the new impressions nor the coolness factor of the location. 

I just think it’s so nice…to be with me. 
Sometimes I think I am going to burst with happiness, although nothing special has happened at all. 
Surf, eat, sleep, and surf again.
But inside of me, it is simply always so extraordinary. 
Extraordinarily extremely beautiful, as a matter of fact ;).

A friend of mine wrote the following in an email the other day:
"Joanna, there is glamour and sparkle and glow inside of me and the shoe department at Saks Fifth Avenue is nothing compared to it! Victoria's Secret kind of hair every day! Everything is sexy and beautiful, just wonderful!”

Yes, this puts it in a nutshell, in my opinion. 

Even if I feel ever so stupid in face of parking meters, gas pumps or grocery store shelves – it doesn’t dampen my bliss. 

By the way, my hat is from Hallhuber, my shorts are already three years old (a very similar one is available at Zalando).



This post was translated by Ginnell Studio.

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