Bundled up in my wool coat and scarf, I was zipping up the hill toward home, thankful that for once we had an evening without rain. The crispness felt good on my cheeks and swept away some of the foggy-headedness that tends to settle in after four hours of German in a slightly-too-warm classroom.
I was feeling conspicuous with my bright white tennis shoes—I have beautiful new black leather boots, but they aren’t broken in yet. (I am sure of this, having given myself blisters trying to wear them last week.) And even though I had headphones on, I was sure that everyone could hear my podcast in English. Try as I might, I couldn’t shake those little bits of Americana. At least I had tied my scarf like a European; I learned that while living in Spain.
And so I rounded the last corner toward my apartment. On the corner, outside a little bistro, a woman was standing, looking around, hands in her pockets. I instantly knew that she was waiting for someone. I recognized that awkward feeling, the one where you think that maybe it would be more comfortable to just step inside but you don’t want to just be standing there in front of all the other patrons. I didn’t see who she was waiting for, but in my head as I walked past, I wished her a nice evening out.
Some days I feel like a total outsider here. But sometimes I feel like we’re all just the same.