She came in 1973 with w’s that sounded like v’s in a country of people who would call her a Nazi for the way she spoke. She was thirteen.
I never knew my mother’s language.
Spoken around me, but not to me, aside from little spoonfuls offered to soften the loss of identity: Ich liebe dich, Oma. Guten nacht.
I never knew my mother’s home.
Never smelled or tasted or touched the ground of the Black forest or the streets of Ludwigshafen or the castles around Neustadt an der Weinstraße.
I am drawn to this place 5,267 kilometers away,
that I have never been but know in my heart as home, a language I know but don’t know, my family’s mythology, my mother’s and my Oma’s stories.
This place exists outside of me, but also doesn’t.
There is a version, told in memories and recollections, a childhood history that I can only cling to in my head. When I go - I will go - it will not be the Germany I know.
It will not be the mythological Germany of my mother’s telling.
It will be a real place, likely disappointing, as going home always is. I can’t go back home, not because it or I have changed, but because I was never there in the first place.