“Als ich im Deutschland war.”
Since getting home from Germany (yes, it is very good to be back,) I have found that just about everything I talk about begins with pretty much the same phrase. “When I was in Germany,” I might say, or else “so there was this time I was shopping in Stuttgart,” or yet again, “Paris is such a beautiful city,” or at the very least, “Hey, look! I’ve been there!”
There was a point at which I became embarrassed for myself. I felt like I was being a terrible bore by rubbing in everyone’s faces all the awesome, cool, amazing places I had been over my year away. I wondered if I sounded pretentious, or snooty, or maybe just like a broken record.
Also, I kept slipping into German. There were some cases in which I did this just to prove that, yes, I was somewhat fluent, if often grammatically incorrect. There were other cases in which I did it by accident, completely forgetting that the persons I was speaking to could not understand me. These instances I found both shocking and confusing, because speaking and hearing German was so natural to me, that in all honesty, it was strange that no one was able to even guess at my meaning. “Als ich im Deutschland war” seems to me to be so obvious, so self-explanatory, that it is hard for me to grasp the apparent necessity of translation.
The joke, of course, is that I am not even sure if that phrase is correct. I have such a strange grasp of the German language, that most of it comes from my every-day experience with it, and not at all from whatever formal teaching I have had (which is somewhat minimal.) “Als ich im Deutschland war” seems to me to be phrased very like the German I have heard spoken. I created the phrase without giving it much thought, so while any German speaker could probably puzzle it out without too much effort, its correctness is dubious.
You will note, however, that for whatever reason, I am confident enough in it being correct that I am willing to publicly post it on my blog, without referencing any grammar book. If my confidence is at all justified, I have no way of knowing. I could have a better grasp of German than I am aware of, and it could be that the German I so blithely rattle off is largely good and understandable. It is equally likely that native German speakers find my attempts either a good joke, or else somewhat insulting. All of this, however, is a digression from what I meant to be talking about.
Then again, my whole blog, in general, is a digression from what I mean to be talking about.
There was a time when I tried to repress references to my Great European Experience in my everyday conversation. It seemed to me that references to Germany either directed the conversation toward me so that I then had to spend undue amount of time talking about myself, or else stagnated the conversation because no one else had much experience with whatever I had mentioned, and therefore had no way of adding anything meaningful to my remark. But eventually, I had to give this up, because it was mostly impossible. In spite of all earnest attempts to not talk about Germany, they slipped out just about everywhere. Germany was an entire year of my life, and not just any year, but one I have only just finished. My trips about Europe where the best parts of that year, and are therefore moments I dwell on disproportionately. To desist from speaking on such points would be the same as refusing to talk about the past twelve and a half months of my life. So please forgive me for boring you, but as I was saying,
“Als ich im Deutschland war…”