In other words

My feet are like bloated sausages when I put them in the bucket and Eberhard fills it with a hose. I drank and read and slept some on the plane, found the bulky luggage claim area in Frankfurt, waiting for the cats and dog, and when they appeared on the belt the dog was OK but one of the cats wasn’t moving, it was under the cushion hiding. I’d gone through a lot of trouble and expense with the paperwork, got it translated and stamped, read it, troubleshooting problems with the German authorities, but after I loaded them on a cart and walked through the Ausgang with nothing to declare, I was on the other side of the controlled area, with no one to stop me or ask what I was doing with all these animals.

We stayed up until midnight talking with my mom’s neighbors, everyone smoking, hacking: her neighbor the mechanic, another neighbor who’s single, a possible love interest of the mechanic, and the mechanic’s 93-year-old-mother who just had open-heart surgery and has been out walking ever since.

At dinner, the Hungarians who own the Anker ask my mom if she has room in her house for four Germans since they are all booked and my mom agrees, and we walk down together to show them the rooms and they put their bikes out by the barn. Ginger is up whining most of the night and we joke about putting her down in the wine keller beneath the house, which is from 1544, and it’s unlikely anyone would hear her down there, ever.

I paste together conversation in scraps, with long swaths between, uncomfortable breaks in the natural flow of dialogue. If you have two verbs in a sentence, the payload verb comes at the very end, and your mind has to kind of blip back to the beginning to understand what was said. The weather is very humid but the German word for humid is too close to the German word for gay, so I stay away from this.

Everyone is sipping Aperol spritzers through plastic straws and people-watching at the restaurants, on the sidewalks, with the flower boxes in full bloom. There is a small restaurant that’s only open four hours a few days a week, run by a woman named Ellie, and she does all the preparation herself — no hot food, but a salad of lox that makes a pinwheel, with fresh shrimp, cut red peppers, Spargel, cucumbers, boiled egg slices, paprika, capers, parsley, Balsamic-drizzle. People help her by bussing their plates and not getting impatient, because it takes a while.

A man comes by my mom’s house with his friends, tourists, admires her garden and calls it romantisch, and when we speak my mom remarks he has an English accent and why, and he says why should it be American, so I can sound like Mickey Mouse?

I backed into some fly paper in the crowded laundry room and there are bugs in our wine but we’ve stopped noticing. In the morning we go to the Rathaus for an art opening hosted by the Burgermeister and some members of the historic society, who host wine tastings in my mom’s keller. Mom says she wishes John could be here at times like this — there is a painting of her house for sale, as part of the exhibit — and after, we see a Volvo with a license plate that reads JP 1209, his initials and birthday.

DSC_0073

 

About pinklightsabre

William Pearse publishes memoir, travel journals, poetry and prose, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
This entry was posted in travel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to In other words

  1. Man, Americans sound like Mickey Mouse? Ouch. Now I want to learn the German word for humid so I can use it on my next trip (whenever that happens).

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      It’s schwul vs. schwül I think. May have it off by a bit, but that’s my gay-dar. Just glad it’s broke, and now everyone’s cold because the rain’s back. Got some new shoes at a shoe outlet and let my mom talk me out of buying cigarettes from the Handy laden. Probably a good thing. Make it cool off some before I come back later this week to the PNW Jon.

      Like

  2. ksbeth says:

    a very interesting beginning –

    Like

  3. Gregg Johnson says:

    Sounds like the first chapter of a wonder filled story, Bill! Best wishes on the next twenty or fifty chapters!

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Hey Gregg thank you. I will get us together here if you’re around in the next few weeks or so. Will be back in the neighborhood later this week, for another six weeks before we all move over here at the end of July. We’ll have to kick back a bit and reflect, you know. With all that lake water to reflect on, and what-not. Thanks for the encouragement here and hope you are well. – Bill

      Like

  4. sweetsound says:

    Americans sound like Mickey Mouse. Germans sound like jerks. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Ah, all of us jerks. It’s why we shouldn’t generalize. I’m proud to be American but curious to hear when we’re not liked, there’s something to that — refreshing in some ways. Good to get outside of your comfort zone I think and hear what the rest of the world (or at least one here or there) thinks. Helps when you’re having a drink and a good time.

      Like

      • sweetsound says:

        What would have been really funny was if he’d had a high-pitched voice. I agree it can be refreshing… when it’s not ridiculous. At any rate, you are going to have one hell of an adventure and I’m so excited for you! I’d love to see Germany someday.

        Liked by 1 person

      • walt walker says:

        Interesting take. I’m not terribly proud to be American but I try to represent us well when travelling abroad. When I was in Europe once, a teacher took our class to visit a holocaust museum. There were a couple of Germans in the class. It was kind of awkward, and I tought at one point I saw one of them well up with tears. That night, while we were hanging out over a few beers, I asked him about it and he said it was impossible to be proud of being German. It wasn’t a weird conversation…very open and honest. A good talk, as they say. Very eye opening.

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        Yes, representing us well is important. I finished a book recently about German culture/history from the past few hundred years, and it touched on the guilt and many dimensions following 1933-1945, those born pre-45 and those, post – and the inner-conflict between generations, those blaming their parents for what happened, and so on. That will likely resonate for a while on their psychology. It must have been a revealing, insightful moment you had together. I hope you are settling in and getting the family situated in your new home.

        Like

  5. rossmurray1 says:

    Wunderbar. Glad you’ve arrived safely.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Thank you. Just here for a week and nearly gone now for six more, back to Seattle, but feels like a successful mission, to have conveyed the pets here and now, to leave them with my mom — which will be a bit of madness for her to sort through, my cats getting into her things, and my dog and her nervousness. You see in America, we just take a pill for everything. That’s what they think about us anyways. I wonder why?

      Like

      • rossmurray1 says:

        Ah yes, I’m jumping the gun. It did seem awfully quick. The things we do for our beasts. My sister-in-law’s dog is dying and my wife — her sister — keeps bawling. We live four hours away.

        Like

  6. Dina Honour says:

    The Danish word for humidity is luftfugtighed, which is just a compound of air and damp, which makes me think that games of Scrabble in Danish are infinitely more interesting than games of Scrabble in English. BUT!!! Here is my new most favortiest word: torschlusspanik, which translates as the fear of getting older and opportunities drying up. I think literally it means gate closing panic. I LOVE it. Can you use it in a sentence and then report back here. Pretty please? ;-).

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Gate closing panic or gate closing to the picnic? Is it like, the sound of the squeak from the gate makes one uneasy, the constantly opening and closing of the gate — people not closing the gate properly, or the gate going off its hinge? All these are good, hard things to consider as we get older and more…ourselves. I am trying on words and phrases with our German friends but keep getting conflicting reports, go figure. Now, the torschlusspanik next Dina — thank you for this. “Please hold.”

      Like

  7. You’ve just described how I’d like to live my life. Instead, I’m en route to an office. How do I turn this around? How did you?

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Well Mark, that’s a long story but I’m so glad you asked, thanks. It’s maybe making lemonade out of lemons. We’re lucky in that we have this opportunity because my mom (American) lives in Germany and she’s up for our company. And our kids are young enough, it’s become a good opportunity for us all — me changing careers, my wife wanting to rethink hers…and of course good material to write about. So it’s coming together nicely so far. I’m so glad you’re interested and following along because I love hearing your comments and thoughts on things. And I will darken your door someday in NYC, or a nearby cafe. – Bill

      Like

  8. Elyse says:

    A great beginning. Thus, a great first sentence to your novel!

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Yes! Thank you Elyse, exciting times indeed. Life is good.

      Like

      • Elyse says:

        I really am happy you made it over there — our time in Europe was our adventure of a lifetime. I’m looking forward to reading about yours!

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        Very cool Elyse. Yes, I went just for a week to convey our pets (so we could get our house/carpets properly cleaned for our renter friends) and we’re all heading back for nine months, end of July. So happy you’re interested in hearing more! I know you were in Switzerland for a while if my memory’s right…funny, I woke up in Germany today and here I am in my recliner in Seattle again, so strange.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Elyse says:

        When you get back to Seattle after your longer stay, it will be very much the same. Like a dream (but you will wisely have photographic evidence!)

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        Nice, thank you.

        Like

  9. byebyebeer says:

    What a cool post. I your description of pasting together scraps of conversation and listening for those verbs. It sounds like an amazing place and time to be there. Beautiful photo and love the bit about the license plate.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Oh, thanks Kristen – I’m so glad you liked it. Yes, it’s a magical, Medieval place right smack dab in the center of Europe. We’re going back there as a family in six weeks and now I just need to finish sorting things out here in Seattle, to rent our house out to some friends. Now that I got the animals out I can really get it sorted you know. And I’m glad you enjoyed that little thing with the license plate; that was odd. We talked about how nature recycles things; when you’re dead it’s likely you get reincorporated. Kind of like data on the Internet never disappearing (or NOT)! Cheers, – Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  10. isohumanity says:

    I have such fond memories of staying with your mom in Germany and doing similar things. Chatting with neighbors, drinking wine…generally kicking back. Please tell her I say hello. I hope you are all well and enjoying this precious time. Is the Looner (sp) still around?

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      That’s great Angela, thanks for the note and I’ll tell her you said hi. Glad you have fond memories along these lines. If by Looner you’re talking about the Parisian yes, he’s still around but very sick and keeping to himself. Not a happy tale, his.

      Like

Please share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s