“Scenes and Narratives from German History” (first published in London 1861) and German textbook for Russians (published 1934), with handwritten translations into Russian.
I live in many different lands.
There are the lands of English and German. Mostly they live peacefully side by side, allowing me to meander from one to the other and back again. Did I read that book in English or German? I don’t even know.
Then there is the land of “every other language I’ve ever learned (even a little bit of)”. Yes, they do seem to congregate in one place. Which is rather unfortunate, as in this land, sentences will come out in a random mix of (mostly) French and Russian. They seem to be quite competitive in what they’re doing. Either both hiding or both pushing to the front, with usually the one that is not needed coming out on top.
Occasionally, I find myself in the land between languages. The land where the thoughts that are in my brain refuse to come out in any language. I was just there a few days ago. Feeling a bit like a deer caught in the headlights. Knowing I should be able to say something sensible, to express what I wanted to say. Yet somehow not being able to.
It’s quite an embarrassing land to be in. “Why is she not able to express herself in her own language?”. Most people don’t understand. I’m glad I’m only a rare visitor in this land, the land between languages!
Berlin is full of history. The Siegessäule (in the background, built 1873) commemorates various Prussian victories. Prussia is no longer even a country! Or anything, really. And with all that’s happened in German history since then, anything remotely nationalistic is a definite no-no.
Yet “Goldelse” (as Berliners affectionately call her) is as much part of Berlin life now as she was then. History might be forgotten, monuments remain and take on a new and different significance.
On the threshold of something new.
New possibilities, new challenges.
A blank canvas.
Rooms that are empty still, yet in our minds already filled with people, with laughter.
These first few steps, where will they take us?
We have crossed the threshold.