Down by the water yesterday, in a rain jacket with the hood up to keep off the drizzle, I said to SG, ‘you know, I think I finally understand why you Germans always say ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just wrong clothes.’ SG held his breath in anticipation, awaiting my pearl of comprehension. I indicated the numerous kids who were out and about, on scooters, pulling wagons, yelling at Oma and Opa to hurry up. They were all in rain suits and gumboots, or at the very least extremely functional parkas (functional dressing starts young in this country) and none of them seemed the least bit perturbed by the rain. I indicated our own baby, snug in her pram and covered by a large, fitted sheet of plastic.
‘When it rains here, you can’t afford to just stay inside, because you may not leave the house for several months of the year. So you just put on your functional clothing and get out, rain, hail or shine.’
At that moment a child chose to stomp gleefully in a puddle, allowing SG to use his obvious delight as proof of how enjoyable rain can be to a child.
‘Whereas, in Australia, when it rains, we tend to stay indoors because we know that tomorrow, it’ll probably be over.’
‘It all just boils down to what you’re used to, what you grow up with. And when you change all of that, or replace it with the unfamiliar, it’s deceptively disruptive.’
I always underestimate how disruptive it was when I replaced what I was used to, with the unfamiliar. If I could tell my 25 year old self one thing, it would be that feeling this disruption is okay, it’s a good thing, it’s all part of it.
I mulled further, internally, as we pushed our plastic-covered pram along the water. What we’re used to and how it forms us, is so quietly powerful. I am only now, several years into this, really realising it. Realising that how we see the world and what surrounds us, is so tied up in what we are accustomed to.
What my daughter will grow up used to, is completely different to what I did – and perhaps that is the catalyst for this line of thought. I think often about the disparities between what my childhood was and what hers will be, by virtue of the two of us growing up in different countries and cultures.
Of course, humans are adaptable little creatures, and there are many things about life here that I have become used to, and there will be many more. And all of the Australian things will wait patiently for when I am back there, and someone or something triggers that feeling of familiarity, that ‘ah, yes, this is how we do things, this is how we work.’
I would say that that’s all this really is, this living in another country; getting used to things. But I think that’s probably what life itself is, don’t you think?