Wedding Blues

This weekend I went to my first German wedding. Every once in awhile something shakes me out of my feelings of being already well-integrated and this wedding did just that. It started on a rough note as I had to find a dress in a panic on Friday since I had nothing here suitable for a wedding. I picked up a very classic black cocktail dress and felt overwhelming relief when M. said it was perfect! Then we had our friend C. come down, as our resident Bavarian woman, to check it out. Her immediate response was Oh no! You don't wear black to a Bavarian wedding!

Grrrr! I knew that was way too easy!

There was little else I could do, so I wore the dress anyway. We skipped the court ceremony and headed to a small castle outside of Munich for the festivities. We arrived and headed to the biergarten (where else?) and the afternoon was more of a casual event. There were some games and then the bride and groom introduced everyone. They had a very cute idea for the guest book where everyone got their picture taken with a polaroid using the same props, a big gold picture frame and a sunflower, and pasted it in the book. Then each guest wrote a message to the bride and groom next to their picture. There was plenty of beer and plum cake and apricot cake and M. got to catch up with some old friends from university. There were babies everywhere and I was wondering if it were really true that Germans aren't having enough babies. M. was wondering if we were really in the peer group of people having babies. That would be an affirmative!

In the evening we headed to another part of the castle for a delicious dinner. From what I could catch of both father's speeches they were perfect and the friends of the bride and groom did a cute poster board presentation and poem of the history of the couple. Almost immediately after dinner, the first dance kicked off the party. This caught me completely off guard. They were doing a waltz! But ok, I was sure they took lessons for the big night. Then after a few minutes, the whole crowd was doing the waltz! Sure, they weren't all perfect, but could you imagine this at a wedding in the States!?! M. wanted me to try, he couldn't believe I couldn't waltz. I couldn't believe he could. The things you learn!

As the night wore on, I got my typical fatigue with trying to keep up in German or dominating the conversation to keep it in English. Sometimes you just want to be a passive participant but still understand everything that is going on. I felt like I was holding everyone back too, as they wanted to catch up and the conversation was flitting from topic to topic and people I didn't know. I found myself getting more and more frustrated and finally decided I needed to get out of there.

I went to bed and left M. to carry on without me but not without some feelings of resentment at the situation. I'm used to being part of the crowd that shuts the wedding down and even moves the party elsewhere. Now it took everything I had to stay until the grandparents headed out. Sitting alone in our hotel room, I felt left out and powerless to do much about it.

I have been told many times that I need to learn the language or I will have a hard time fitting in. My lessons are on hold at the moment because I haven't been anywhere long enough lately to have a regular lesson and don't see any stability in my schedule anytime soon. These situations highlight how insulated I am here in Europe and how much more progress I would have to make to gain social independence. M. and I are both very social people but my awkwardness with the language issue is making these outings consistently painful and I'm afraid I'm going to give up altogether soon. And that would go against my nature. And you know what happens when you go against your nature.

Posted from Basel


Ola said...

Feeling left out can't possibly feel good. :-( I'm sure you'll make the right decisions, follow what your heart tells you.
I checked out your sister's blog, she's very good at knitting, her projects are beaufiful... and I'm still such a beginner.

Hamish said...

I totally feel you on this. The initial language barrier isn't so tough to cross, but the conversation barrier is a different story. I sometimes end up feeling like an idiot for forcing the conversation back to English, like I should be fluent by now.

My social life here is also nothing like it was back home... def miss that.

rebecca said...

Had the same kind of experience last week.... it is hard. The first few minutes of polite English, then the switch to something you can understand just enough of to follow the general idea but not enough to ever participate. It gets lonely.

Expat Traveler said...

michelle - I so know how you feel! Try understand German or Swiss German without taking a lesson and only asking and learning from people around you! That was me.

It got frustrating for sure. Just hang in there and well if you can get in some self studying, maybe that could help you!

I know how it is too because they keep talking in german and well you don't know what to say, yawn...

Hope your schedule gets better!