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.