When I was a young girl, I wanted to live in a castle in some far away land. Now that I’m older I find myself living across the street from a castle in a one-hundred and fifty year old building complete with ghosts and so very, very far away from home. To be honest, I never thought I’d say I miss the desert but I do: I miss my children even if they are dependent upon me far past the time they should be, I miss my animals who couldn’t come to live with us in our far away adventure, and I miss seeing my grandchildren grow up.
In May of this year as you all know, we said goodbye to our house and family and everything I have ever known to run away from home, moving to Vienna, Austria. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy about what was happening but I understood it. I understood that it was a fantastic opportunity to live somewhere and visit all those places I only thought about when I was a kid. I knew it would be great for my husband’s career. But knowing and understanding didn’t matter to my heart in the beginning and now with my first Christmas in my new foreign home fast approaching I can say this is still the case.
First I would say to those who envy me, be careful what you wish for but that would be a lie because it’s all a matter of perspective. When we are young, everything looks cool because it’s different than what we have or where we are. When we’re older, we look at things differently like what’s the economic impact it might have on our lives. My thought process was ‘how can this make my writing better’ and a million other things concerned with writing. Then as in now, I am trying to focus on the positive though some days it is very, very hard. So let’s look at some of the basic reasons a move like this could make a writer better:
1) A look at different cultures – Living in a place that isn’t where you grew up may be uncomfortable at first but it will also make you realize that the world is a big, big place. Here people watching takes on a whole new meaning as one can see things here they will never see at home...like a big bike race on the main street with over three hundred bikes...or a political rally on the very street you live on. In any given day, I will see people from Indian, the US, Turkey, Greece, Ireland, Paraguay, and the Dominican Republic to name a few...those are just the ones who live in the same building as I do...imagine what’s outside those doors.
2) Broaden one’s horizons – Living in a foreign country means I have to learn a different language to communicate to those around me. It means I have to understand a socialist system because that’s where I’m at right now. I also have to realize the way things are done where I come from aren’t the way things are done here. I also have to learn a public transit system, why Vienna is divided into districts and why people here don’t seem to change very much. This can be translated into some very interesting things for my stories.
3) Teach my native language – I have been asked by several people if I would be interested in teaching English to upper level students. Boy, if this won’t make you hone your skills in writing, I don’t know what will. I really find it interesting that they want me to teach American slang as opposed to learning the Queen’s English. In order to teach here, I need to get permission to work and that will be a whole other adventure to address on another day.
4) Make new friends – Now this has been the most difficult for me as writers are pretty reclusive and I tend to be that way myself. Matter of fact, as you all know I was so lonely I got me a puppy and in the process gained a whole new group of friends who own the same type of dog. People over here can relate to those with dogs better than those without or even those with kids. This is making me put myself out there and in some ways I cringe and in others I excel.
5) The place oozes history – This place has an incredible history. Like I’ve said many times before, I live across the street from the Palace Belvedere and the Palace Schwartenberg. Belevedere was once a summer home for the Habsburgs and in particular Prince Eugene. I’m still trying to understand where Palace Schwartzenberg figures into all of this but I do know there’s a house on the grounds for rent. We’re actually thinking about checking it out. Now the street I live on is named after after Prince Eugene and called Prince Eugen Strasse. That’s just the start of everything: there’s the Hofburg, Schonnbrunn, Carnuntum which is a Roman ruin, Stephensplatz, Karlsplatz and churches like you wouldn’t believe. Early man lived here as did the Celts. Just reading Wikipedia to get the overview can be overwhelming...but...think of the opportunity for historicals, for contemporaries or for anything a writer can think up. Here’s a few more pictures to show you what I mean.
While this is the view out my office window, I should make note that not only do I see the guard quarters for Belvedere as well as part of the grounds, but history. If I look a little harder, I’m sure I can see the Emperors and Empresses of a day gone by, of kings and queens and their children.
And finally, one of my favorite places to see, Schonnbrunn.
Yes, this place has plenty for a writer to learn, plenty for me to figure out and understand. Even though the perspective has changed a lot from when I was younger, living the fairy tale can and does have its own perks.
See you all next time!