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Austria: Two Weeks and Then Some

By Billy | April 8, 2011


I’ve been here in Austria for a little more than 2 weeks.  That’s what I might consider the appropriate length of time for a vacation if I were a fine working businessman type person.  This would be the vacation that makes me quit my job.  Thank goodness this is my real life and not a vacation that I escape to.
Austria is a strange place.  Their on-flight commercials called Austria, “The Garden of Vienna.”  I go to Vienna for realzies tomorrow for the first time, so thus far, I’ve only been exploring the garden.  And a garden it is!  Today I climbed up a rocky ridge, which may or may not have been part of the castle wall, for these things can be confusing somehow, and gazed upon a paradise.  The river that runs through town is just big enough to no longer be a stream, but just small enough to no longer be a river.  It flows south to north and is alarmingly cold and invitingly clear.  The view from my possibly castle wall ridge look out included people walking dogs below me, the backwards flowing Lainsitz below them, the town cobbler beyond that and the loewr part of town, and beyond that a beautiful valley and park dedicated to health and bare footedness and to some extent the fact that these two things are intimately connected.  I believe I will spend many hours on that perch in the coming days, weeks, and months.
Presently I am sitting in the kitchen/dining room/living room of our flat.  I have lit 5 candles and am listening to Yann Tiersen’s wonderful works from the movie Amelie.  At this moment, without moving my eyes I can see a baby grand piano, stand up bass, two classical guitars, one mandolin, but the djimbe drum, the fiddles, flutes, and trumpet are hidden from my vantage point.  Oh!  Also, I forgot the most important thing.  The musical triangle is also within eyeshot right now.
I am barefoot, dreadlocked, and wearing lederhosen, the traditional pants in Austria.  In the pocket of my hosen is a bloodied handkerchief; the result of the fight I picked with a 11 year old in the park while playing basketball.  Just because you can hold the ball out of children’s reach, you can’t be sure they wont find a way to make you give it to them.  The kids are watching the A-Team in German right now, after working hard on their Rechtschreibtesten (spelling tests), so there is some down time.
I never know what the evenings will have in store.  Last night involved a dance party.  Three of us danced like wild things to drum-heavy music in one of the most beautiful houses I’ve ever been in, while drinking locally brewed bier, ocasionally stopping to pet fat and pampered kitties.  I am still allergic to cats, even in Austria.  Tonight I might dance again.  If Alex doesn’t take me out to a ‘disco,’ which I think is what my fate was said to be for tonight, then I will probably put on waltzing music, (maybe here: and practice my waltzing, since it’s been a week since my last dance lesson, and I need to work on my waltz.
The kids here are lovely.  I play football, American football, basketball, and climb with them.  (Sometimes) we wrestle for fun. They are teaching me a lot, including the German language, and God help me, I don’t know what I’m teaching them other than that some peopel in the world like stale bread over fresh bread, like knotty hair over combed hair, and barefootedness to shoes.  I wear shoes a lot more than I used to, but the kids can wander into the Bakery/Ice Cream Parlor/Cafe without shoes and nobody cares.  I believe that people here are either more polite around people they find strange, or more accepting of people they find strange, or how I look with crazy hair at the moment is not as strange as I percieved it to be in the USA a couple of months ago.
The thing I am working to learn most immediately while I am here is to not inhibit myself.  I thought I would be learning to be still and how to keep entertained in small world, but thus far I have found that as much or more options are available to me in Weitra as in Harrisonburg or Fairfax, Virginia.  I have let my unpracticed German grammar and my undeveloped sense of rhythm hold me back from conversations I should have been having and dances I should have been enjoying.  As a child I was told, “you have to change the way you act and sit in this chair a way you don’t want to,” or “you can’t perform this action, God will disapprove of it,” and very often, “you definitely shouldn’t break that, take that apart, or put that in your mouth.”  “Billy maybe you shouldn’t sing, but should just move your lips.”  Well screw you draconian Catholic school teachers, especially you — 7th grade music teacher.  That’s a horrible, horrible, horrible thing to say to a kid.  In any case, I am learning to ignore those voices that say I should just pretend to sing, instead I am choosing to sing out when I want to sing out.  There are millions of ways to be, and all of them are as valid as any others, and I think I’ve done quite a lot of pushing to be certain things — if I’ve been pushed one way, I’ll push back extra hard.  Now I just want to learn to do what I want to do formyself when I choose to.  This, of course, involves the rest of the world since everyone is a part of everything, anyway.  So in that self righteous being-of-myself, there is the acknowledgement that I am so small in my world, and I must do things for other people, too.
Hum.  I miss nuances of speaking English.  I miss intricate puns that I can understand and especially craft, I miss conversations based on words and terms that are constructed for the specific conversation, I miss debating with people about whether buying wax candles from hundreds of miles away has a net positive or negative impact on the world.  I miss critical mass sized bike rides and going-there-to-get-there walks — big groups of people type walks with a destination miles away.
I don’t miss United Statesian  politics.  I don’t miss conversations about the immorality of homosexuality.  I don’t miss the sound of the highway.  I don’t miss the perpetual soft glow of the sky that has existed in every part of America that I have lived in.
So. Yep.  This is my life as I see it right now.



Topics: This is my life | 1 Comment »

One Response to “Austria: Two Weeks and Then Some”

  1. Lonesome Wolf in Austria | Rumbelow (rŭm’-bĭ-lō): A combination of meaningless syllables Says:
    April 14th, 2011 at 7:24 am

    […] Austria: Two Weeks and Then Some […]