Germany by Meggan Connors
When I was twenty, I lived in Germany for about nine months.
Now, I’d lived a relatively sheltered existence in my hometown. I went to elementary school, middle school, high school and University all in the same place. I’d known for a long time that I wanted out, but, well, things happen.
My parents, namely my mother, weren’t excited about this prospect of me going to Europe for any period of time. So I applied for a scholarship. And I got it. Though, as the only German major on campus going to a fledgling German exchange program, it wasn’t that hard.
(Yes, I was a German major. And an English Lit major. Oh, and a Linguistics major. I also had a double minor in History and Political Science. Employment apparently wasn’t high on my list of priorities, but I knew a lot about a lot of stuff that couldn’t make me any money)
Anyway, I got the scholarship. And it was only then, once I had the scholarship in hand and my bags packed, that I started to panic.
I was desperately shy. For years, I would panic at the idea at ordering at the drive through. No kidding. I only got over that because I went on a date with the kid who manned the window. It took me months to warm up. And here I was, thinking I was all that for getting on a plane and going someplace where I didn’t know a soul.
I’ll admit, I wondered if I would talk to anyone for the entire time I was there.
For most of my life, I’d known everyone. I’d gone to school with all the same people, and while college expanded my horizons, it was rare that I didn’t have a class or two with someone I’d known since third grade. I was so afraid of making a mistake, because if anyone found out… well, then everyone would find out. (Trust me on this one. It happened. More than once)
But I forced myself to get on that plane, even though those last few steps to my seat were like pulling teeth.
And it was the most amazing thing I had ever done for myself.
In Germany, where I knew no one, I found my voice.
I made mistakes. Lots of them. Like the time I was trying to talk about the condition of chickens in Kentucky, and my pronunciation for the word for chickens was corrected to the word for whores. Yeah, I thought it sounded wrong, but I went with it. So, I talked about how they were kept in tiny cages and pecked each other’s eyes out.
Whoopsie. No really, I meant the chickens.
But instead of hiding behind my hair, when I figured out where I’d gone wrong, I just laughed. I still laugh when I think about it. And I guess it was there that I discovered that if I messed up, it wouldn’t kill me. I discovered that mistakes are funny.
I crammed four years of college experiences into nine months, and stopped caring if everyone found out I wasn’t perfect. I started taking chances.
If I’d stayed in my sheltered little world, I never would have taken the risk of going to Germany. Maybe I would have found my voice another way, but something tells me I wouldn’t have. I would have stayed safe and quiet, but I never would have figured out how to be me.
I never would have figured out that, behind the quiet, introverted façade was a boisterous personality aching to get out. That, behind the demure, “Whatever you want” was a person with very definite opinions and feelings. And I never would have been brave enough to try to publish any of the stories in my head.
I never would have been brave enough to talk to the man who would become my husband. I never would have said the very outrageous thing that spurred him to ask me out.
To this day, I still think of myself as an introvert. I still have to spend some time alone every week, and I get cranky if we make too many plans in a month (three parties in one weekend last month nearly did me in). When I’ve had a stressful day, where I’ve had to “on” all day long, I still need to spend time staring at a wall just to decompress.
But I have a voice. I’ll stand up to anyone, and I’ll tell you what I think. If you’re really lucky, I’ll tell you a dirty joke.
I have Germany to thank for that.
Oh, and little things, I have a book coming out in a couple of months, and I’m super excited about it. Here’s the blurb, if you’re interested…
When Kenneth Mackay, long-banished rogue and thief, returns to the Mackay holding at the request of his brother, he has no idea what he might find. He certainly doesn’t expect to be confronted with his twin’s imminent death, or with the plan his brother has concocted.
Ten years before, Malcolm made a tragic mistake, and, to preserve the family name—and his own skin—he allowed Kenneth to take the fall. Now that he is dying without an heir, Malcolm plans to atone for his mistake: by giving Kenneth his life back. All Kenneth has to do is assume his brother’s identity. But complicating matters is the unexpected return of Lady Isobel Mackay, the daughter of an English marquess… and the wife Malcolm didn’t want.
Isobel barely knows the husband who abandoned her even before their wedding, and she’d long since given up on having a real marriage with him. Yet when she returns to the Mackay holding far earlier than expected, she finds her husband a changed man. Despite the hurt between them, Isobel’s heart responds to this man who cares for his entire clan as if they were family. Who, for the first time since their marriage, cares for her as if she is, too.
Falling in love with her husband had never been part of Isobel’s plan. But when their future is suddenly in peril, Isobel must find a way to save him—from himself and from the deception threatening to tear them apart.
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