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Re: Inherited Sorrow Sigismund

Posted by Racer on July 11, 2007, at 11:55:58

In reply to Inherited Sorrow, posted by Sigismund on July 11, 2007, at 3:39:11

>
> I'm 54. A long time ago, my mother was talking about a man she might have married. He came from somewhere in the German speaking world, and she described how, when introduced to him, he went to kiss her hand according to his custom. She just reflected that 'we don't do that here'. I can't say it was *because* of that, but something entered my heart, a terrible sorrow, an intoxicating sense of loss, quite accurate historically and therefore, I believe appropriate and good.
>
> Does anyone have any comment on sorrow inherited historically?
>

I'm not sure it's quite the same thing, but I know I get a sense of deep sadness when I am reminded of some aspects of my earlier life. Mostly related to the German speaking world...

I grew up with a lot of Germans and Austrians around, and a lot of German spoken. The older men were hand kissers -- although most of the hand-kissing world agrees that American women are dangerous when kissing hands. Apparently many American women try to "help" lift their hands... (Maybe because it's so embedded in our consciousness that we should never be passive in any context?) And almost all of them were two-cheek-kissers -- that's what I really miss. That's what gives me the sadness.

Now, I'm not a casual hugger, I'm not happy being touched by anyone who hasn't had an explicit invitation to do so. But the two-cheek-kiss of greeting seems so safe, so warm -- and yet less intimate than a casual hug. I miss so much coming into a room, and having a man take both my hands in his, and bringing his mouth towards first my right, then my left cheek. And I miss being invited to call someone "du" instead of "Sie." And I miss the pidgin spoken by two language groups, each trying very hard to make it easier for the other to understand.

I miss the shared understanding -- being able to use a sort of shorthand to communicate, based on shared knowledge of certain literature and art. I miss hearing obscure jokes about writers, and knowing that someone in the room will get it and laugh. I miss being able to listen to "The Grown-Ups" talk about Socrates and Xanthippe as though they were the neighbors down the street -- "and isn't it a scandal?" I miss what I learned as "proper behavior" growing up. It's often stupid things, like social kisses are always on the right cheek. Where did that rule come from? Did anyone else ever learn it? But somehow, I always knew -- NEVER kiss someone on the left cheek, unless you're married to, engaged to, or the parent of the recipient.

Maybe it's nostalgia for a time when life was simpler? Or maybe it's a longing for a time when I felt safer, and more loved? Maybe it's just missing certain faces and voices I'll never hear again.

Damn. I'm crying now. Let me just say this, to someone who won't hear it. "Maria, thank you for all your love. You and your husband made my life so much richer, and I'll always be thankful for it." I started writing what I would want to say to so many people, but I think that's enough. Especially since I can't stay and cry and miss them today.

So, I don't know if it's inherited sorrow, or a longing for a more elegant time, or something that was passed on from your mother more directly. But I do know that I feel something I think it probably pretty similar.


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