It’s a vague sensation, a feeling that slowly grows stronger.
You wake up to the sound of the local radio – Guten Morgen Salzburg. You choose the right clothes now, no more Converses in the snow, no more white pants in the rain. You recognise the mountains around – you’ve hiked them, you’ve skied them, you’ve learned their names. You write your first email in German. You know what to order when facing a menu full of Schnitzels and Kase-something. You bargain the price of your second-hand skis. You read the (first paragraph of the) newspaper while eating a Salzburg Nockerl. You sit on the slopes, open a beer and take a deep breathe. You don’t need to look at the map anymore, and you cycle faster in the dark.
How long until you can call a place home? It’s been almost half a year since I’ve moved to Austria. It’s been new, terribly new, overwhelmingly new – amazingly new.
Ah and cold, too. F*** it’s been cold.
But I’ve noticed a change lately. It’s becoming familiar. It’s not like I know the Alps inside out, but my very own chart of Salzburg is getting clearer.
“You’re improving, but you know, to make it yours, you got to love it.”
My friend looked at me and smiled. I was complaining about German, about the hideous way I say the words, the struggle it is to learn it, the grammar, the vocabulary. Nein nein nein nein, I say that all day, and Gruss Gott too.
“To make it yours, you got to love it.” That sentence – so true. That’s true of learning a new language and that’s true of building a new home, too. As happy as I am to experience yet another life, it wasn’t until I heard those words that I realised the key to my happiness here. It’s not about knowing the dialect, the best off-piste or the local Kaiserschmarrn.
It’s only home when you love it.