Stroke of Luck

I look like a typical guy from Florida so people are surprised when I tell them that I was born and raised in Germany. Watching jaws drop to the floor when I switch languages in the middle of a phone call still makes me giggle a little bit inside.

I’m not annoyed or bothered by anyone asking how I speak fluent German, but I do get a little tired of telling the story behind it, especially if it happens eight times in the same day. It’s complicated.

I am considered a foreign-born American with a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (or CRBA). My mother, Victoria, is an American-German Army brat who happened to be living in Munich, Germany, when she met my German-Hungarian father, Julius. They have been happily married for 25+ years, so I consider our family fortunate to have made it this far in one piece. The fact that my parents met in the first place is really weird and so is the story behind it.

The move to the United States was my mom’s 48th move. It is safe to say she is an expert-level mover. If you want to witness the quickest and most efficient breakdown of a house and all of its contents, join my family for our next move.

By the time my mom finished high school in Los Angeles, she met and fell in love with a German fellow by the name of Oliver, not my father, who happened to be stationed in southern California at the time with the German army, or Bundeswehr. As most Army brats do at the age of 18, they rebel or spread their wings. In my mother’s case, she did both, moved to Germany and got engaged so she could have citizenship upon her arrival.

They got an apartment right outside the commissary in Nuremberg relatively close to the base. This made things more affordable. He worked for the army and my mom got a job as a translator for a computing firm. Everything seemed good. Both of them were expanding their circle of friends, especially my mother. Weekends were meant for drinking beer and going to the lake to have a good time with new friends.

My mom met her best friend, Alexa, at this computing firm, and that best friend is now my godmother, essentially, my second mom.

Some time had passed and mom became too comfortable around Oliver. A week before her wedding, she caught Oliver in bed with their neighbor. The apartment was emptied before Oliver even had a chance to get dressed and apologize. My mom and Alexa were now rooming together in the heart of Munich.

The first night out as a newly single woman, she was approached by a dark and handsome stranger who offered her a drink and a cigarette. She turned it down since Alexa told her he was an up-and-coming business man in the Munich area and was just trying to impress her with money and looks. He smiled and winked at her throughout the evening and she eventually caved. Through the smoke-filled bar, my mom waved him on over to her little table in the corner. She told me later on that he introduced himself as if he were selling a business-plan to an investor:

“Julius is my name and it is an absolute pleasure to meet you, darling. I would love to know what brings you to this part of Munich?”

Exactly one month later, Julius and Victoria flew to El Paso, Texas, together in order to meet the in-laws (a.k.a. Grandma and Grandpa). Fast-forward another two years and you have my younger brother and me in a stroller getting pushed around the Olympic Park in Munich by my parents. We were getting ready to embark on our first Florida adventure and my parents were dead-set on purchasing property wherever we ended up.

Cape Coral is where we finally ended up and from 1993 up until 2003, we stayed in the same house multiples times a year. We lived in Munich and visited Cape Coral for vacation which is what forced the whole family to speak English, even back in Munich. Hence, my bilingual ability was a necessity for a while which turned into a habit and is now of second nature to me. Building up seasonal relationships and friendships was tough as a kid but the older I got, the more I enjoyed spending time in our vacation home. I still go golfing every other weekend with my friend Dallas, who I met biking around this neighborhood in 1995.

American law states that citizens of the country are allowed dual nationalities as long as the first citizenship obtained is an American one. My mom and dad wanted to make sure that my brother and I remain dual citizens for the rest of our lives. I renew both passports every ten years and entering and leaving the country has turned into one of my favorite games; which passport do I show this time?

So that is how I became a child of two cultures.

If it weren’t for my mom’s ex-fiancé cheating on her one week before their wedding, my parents would have probably never met. I find it interesting that a few drastic turn of events led my brother and I to places we would have never dreamed of. I don’t believe everything happens for a reason because Tornadoes do not strike a children’s hospital for any reason.

My younger brother now has his captain’s license which he utilizes on a weekly basis. He does sightseeing tours with the never-ending influx of tourists that travel to Cape Coral. I am the fleet manager for a boat rental company and will have my Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts by the end of this year. Things have turned out well for the both of us and I couldn’t be happier.