Three thoughts that may seem related if you drink enough wine and squint.

I used to describe San Francisco as my moderately abusive boyfriend. He was so handsome, so even tempered. But he was constantly asking me for money. More and more money. And this, along with a sudden blinding interest in computers, was driving some of my friends who used to also love him away to other places. (Jan. Beth.) And sometimes, late at night, when I was pretty sure he was asleep, I allowed myself to wonder if he was worth it. 

And so I moved to Berlin.

And Berlin is a different sort of boyfriend all together. He's just as handsome and charming, but he's more relaxed. He's into computers, but not obsessed. And not once do I ever wonder if he's worth it. In fact, it's the opposite. I wonder if I'm good enough for him. But he's so good at loving me that all my insecurities quickly melt away. It's a dream come true.

If only he didn't have a strict Vater who forbids our love. (Yes, still no visa.)

Strict fathers have been a theme in my explorations lately. I took a trip to Prague last weekend and re-watched Amadeus after learning it was filmed there. Herr Mozart was very scary. And then I visited the Kafka museum and read Franz's passionate letters to his father in which he simultaneously criticizes his father's expectations and tries to prove he has accomplished them. (And then he dies from tuberculosis.) This week I read Portnoy's Complaint in which Alexander spends hours trying to disentangle his parents' demands from his own busy but unsatisfying sex life. Parents can really do a number, no?

One night as Nele is arguing with me about whether or not NOW is the exact right time to be brushing her teeth, I consider how difficult it must be for a parent to determine just how much strictness is the right amount. As far as parenting goes, Konstantine and Verena are nothing like the figures I've been reading about. Gottseidank. The children are given an extreme amount of liberty and they will undoubtedly develop a healthy suspicion of authority. I support this. I want a child to think critically about the demands that are being placed on him or her. About where those demands are coming from and whether or not they are worth anything. At the same time, I want Nele to brush her teeth NOW, so that she will get to bed on time, and not be a nightmare in the morning when it's time to get to school. Is it too much to ask for both?

I'm nearing my 32nd birthday and I can't decide if the identity crisis I'm having is a late version of the one I was supposed to have when I turned 30 or an early version of the one I'm supposed to have in my mid-40's. What I think about a lot lately is how I've experienced a lot of things, but I haven't made a lot of decisions. I haven't decided I'll do this in this place with this person and raise my kids this way. And many people my age have made these decisions. 

To be sure, I am proud of my unconventional path and would cop to having judged others who have followed more traditional routes. But lately I wonder when exploring becomes a losing game.

I can keep looking for the perfect city and the perfect job and the perfect partner. And I can keep hoping that somehow all three of these things will exist in the same place at the same time. There are enough cities, jobs, and people to last me a hundred lives. Or more! But what good does it do me if I find all of this at the age of 80? Let's assume I'll live to be 90. Wouldn't 55 years of good be better than 10 years of perfect? 

Exploring starts to feel more and more like a glorified version of waiting. And I'm tired of waiting.