Are you interested in diversity? Cultural differences? Alterity?
It’s easy and straight forward when they are big. The differences, I mean.
It’s tricky, when they are small. So small that you think there ain’t any.
So on the surface, the Irish and the Germans are pretty similar. Ok, Germans don’t have a sense of humour (or their very own one), they don’t buy rounds, they have ID cards, and their police force is armed. Irish buses are never on time, people cross the road whenever they want to (rather than waiting for the green man), and they insist in driving on the wrong side of the road. – But none of that is substantial. One would think.
There is another difference: Irish stop celebrating their birthday once they’re 21, Germans make a big deal out of any of their birthdays.
Today I had a sad day. I thought: all what I had planned, all what I had thought I would be doing, everything I had imagined just evaporated that day in June. None of what is going on in my life, in our lives, is anywhere near of that I could have imagined in my strangest dreams. I’m now an expert carer. I have learnt about hospital care in three different countries. I’m an expert (well…) in neurological rehabilitation. I know more than some of the experts about wheelchairs, lifters, beds, MOTOMeds, and many other “Hilfsmittel” that are essential for the care of someone who cannot look after themselves. I know where the money goes, where it is spent, where it is not spent, what it all costs, and why people get involved in care. None of that was even on my radar less than two years ago.
More. I thought I could do whatever I wanted to do. I thought I could influence the way the world goes, the way people act, the way we deal with each other. Now I know what it feels like to be told what to do, what is good and what is bad, what it feels to be at the mercy of others. So vulnerable, so raw, so desperate at times.
My sister and brother in-law were here earlier for a few hours. But now, I’m here with Pádraig alone celebrating my birthday. A big deal for a German, those birthdays. And Pádraig and I have never been closer to each other before. The most beautiful birthday present. This feeling. This connectedness. This understanding.