Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Standing on the Border

As a child, I grew up in northern Maine...Madawaska, to be exact. One of the things that I had always taken for granted is that we lived in a border town, on the border of Maine and Canada. We called Canada "across".

"Hey, I'm going across, is there anything you need?"
"What did you do this weekend?" "We went across to see matante and mononcle".

It was as natural as putting on socks in the winter. You said it, you did it, and it was part of life; it was part of the culture of living in a border town. Madawaska didn't have a hospital, so a lot of babies born to Madawaskans were born "across"...given the gift of dual citizenship (if their mom and dad were American, of course!). I was born across...but mom and dad were Canadian, so I didn't get that dual citizenship (I became an American in 2003, but that's a story for another day).

We spent a lot of time "across". We had relatives there. Both mom and dad were Canadian, and though we lived in the states, almost all their families lived in Canada. So we visited most every weekend. When my parents divorced, I was fairly young (9 or so). We then had yet another reason to go "across"...to spend time with Dad. As we got older and could go by ourselves, we would often walk. There were times when, as a joke, we would stand at the sign designating the international border. "Hey, look, I'm standing in Canada and America, ha, ha!". And we continuted on our voyages. It was never significant.

But lately, living in Germany has stirred some of that feeling up. We are one of the few families who are blessed with looking upon two countries at one time. Because of where our apartment sits, I look out my front (living room, dining room and kitchen) windows, and I see Germany, in all it's red-roofed glory. I see little cars, buses with German destinations (Altstadt - Old Town), I see German advertisments at the bus stop.

When I look out of the back windows (bedrooms and bathroom), I see the US...all military posts are AMERICAN even on foreign soil. I see American cars with their VERY noticeable license plates...I see American kids playing and speaking English.

And I wonder...where is the exact border to the post? When we first moved here, there were no real barriers from the front of the building, just jersey barriers every few feet. You could walk between them and touch the buildings. The sidewalks were in Germany....The fenceline started midway on the buildings. Now, they've finally built a fence around the housing area - so technically, the property is now all American.

But I still think about the fact that my building may actually be on the border. I could be straddling two countries when I stand in my living room! And there is no feeling like it - to be living in Europe, a foreign country, across the ocean - a WORLD away from all I know. But I wouldn't trade it for the world.

1 comment:

Sue said...

Oh my, you have brought me right back :) -- I haven't been there in 8 years -- I think I am due for a trip back there. I don't think I have any pictures of the "bridge" -- you are too much :)