Meet me at the cemetry gates

IMG_2840We dropped the kids off for their first day of German school, their first class French — French taught in German — and I walked to the cemetery by the Realschule, where we’ve started our third week of German classes, the cemetery because it’s fall and seems a fitting place to sit and brood, and though it was warm in the sun I sought a dark bench to see what inspiration I could find among the headstones and the dead.

We were nervous for the girls starting German school, all of it in German, loosely agreed upon plans mostly by email with the English teacher brokered by our friend Heike and her son Sascha, the school close enough the kids can walk there, all of it free, our choice of subjects including Geography, Latin, Grammar, Math, Biology, Religion, Fine Arts, Sport, Choir, and so on.

I went back to my notes from the weekend with our French friends: the boy Mathis may be 5 or 6, playing with the letter opener, making slicing gestures across his throat with it — the Spanish ham sliced extra thin, peeling pieces of it off with our fingers in the morning, all of it shredded and fucked the way toilet paper gets when it’s unraveled wrong — the French have a resilience that’s hard to pinpoint, they don’t give a shit or worry about stuff we tend to, they don’t seem to gain weight like us either, and manage to keep smoking well into their 40s.

All the cheeses and tiny pickles and breads, the Raclette, a tabletop grill popularised by the Swiss, cooking strips of pork fat on it and then onions and parboiled potatoes, on and on, reminds me of the time my cholesterol got over 300 and I had to pare everything back to gluten-free with raw almonds, celery, fish.

We have to use the tip of a wooden spoon now to turn the dishwasher on because the power button fell inside the console, and it’s like some game at the fair, fishing for the button, something we should probably have checked, it doesn’t seem safe.

I get emails from LinkedIn with press releases about newly filled executive positions at retail chains in the States, and people still use the phrase proven track record which makes me gag, it has a perverse sound to it worse than pornography, and less convincing: what exactly is a track record?

Laurent wears his sweater around his shoulders tied in the front just so, like only the French can.

We get a text message from the Italians up the street saying they’re going on a mozzarella run to Italy and how many kilos do we want? Mom stabs the cell phone display with her pointer finger, bats back the autocorrections, reads it aloud before sending it.

We now have only 20 some days we’re allowed to stay in Germany before we need to leave the Schengen, the Schengen getting more attention with the European migrant crisis, explaining to those outside Europe what it really means, and whereas before we thought of going to Croatia we’re glad we’re going the opposite direction now, grateful the UK opted out of the agreement: it means we can stay there for 90 days in Britain and Ireland, as we’re not allowed to re-enter the 22 Schengen states (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, etc.) until we’ve been out a full 90 days, the end of January.

Although mom said we could use her Mazda to drive to the UK we decided to rent a car instead, a rental for about 102 days that’s roughly €35/day plus the border-crossing and extra driver fees, break-down insurance…and Eberhard offered to help us buy a car, which seemed preposterous, but now that we’ve done some research it’s clearly the best idea: you can get reliably used cars here in Germany for a lot less than in the States.

And when we collect the kids from their choir class (they sang Cold Play songs, in English), Lily says she wants to stay at this school forever, all the German kids crowd around them like they’re rock stars and trade email addresses, ask if Lily’s got a handy — and she’s sharing her blog with classmates in the States and mentioned a blogger who’s following her now who’s also following me — she could read my comments to him on his blog, but doesn’t think he’s really reading her posts because all the comments to him say “Thanks for the Likes,” (she’s only 10 and seeing through it already, who reads, who doesn’t) — and now Dawn and I will have a break from home schooling as we finish our plans to the UK, and I find new haunts in the dark corners of town where I can forget what day it is and imagine what it was like in this graveyard 50, 100 years ago, despite all that was going on in the world and all the warring, how it probably looked a lot like it does now on a day like this, the sky and the clouds, the trees about the same as they’re losing their first leaves, poets moping about below, wondering where they came from, where they’re going — all those people, all those lives, where are they now?



Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

26 replies

  1. this all sounds tremendously wonderbar.


  2. I thought of liking but not commenting just to make you suspicious.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely and haunting, particularly the end. And what about that photo with the mask? (Or am I imagining that??)


    • The creepy photo is from a strange place near Portland we like to go to, called McMenamins (Edgefield). I think the best word for that place is trippy. I love it, inside and out. You kind of just need to go there. People who believe in ghosts and the supernatural also gravitate there. And people who like to drink, kind of an amusement park for adults I’ve called it.


      • All the cool kids move to Portland. I hope to at least visit and that place sounds great.


      • I love making fun of Portland. Portland loves making fun of Portland. It’s all about fun, there. You go and I swear, there’s this quality to everyone that’s magical. I can’t comment on how attractive the men are because they all have beards and I’m usually looking at the women instead, but they have this weird, natural glow about them, like there’s something in the water that makes them that way, like maybe why bagels or pizza taste better on the east coast, something in the water. You should definitely go. And buy some used flannels, some industrial shoes, some vinyl. It’s like Seattle would be if Seattle didn’t get all screwed up with development and people like us, moving in from other places and setting up shop. And there’s a really beautiful volcano called Mount Hood you can see most days, and, well, I’ll stop.


  4. But Keats and Yeats are on your side, brah.

    Ah but seriously, I’m confused. Are you putting the young ones into a school school, or are you supplementing? You might have said it, but if you did, I missed it. Apologies. That bit about renting a car or buying one kind of blew my mind, too.


    • Oops. That was my wayward thumb. Don’t play with smartphones, kids.


      • If you must write prose and poems the words you use should be your own / don’t plagiarise or take ‘on loan’


      • That crazy song has been stuck in my head for days now, I’ll have you know. I had to pull it up on my phone this morning while driving to work and listen to it just to get it unstuck. Funny thing is, until recently I hadn’t heard that song since high school, but its in there, in my brain. I don’t know where it’s stored, but I can still access it. Know most of the words and such. I’m sure it’s keeping me from learning new things, or operating more efficiently or something, with the space it consumes on my hard drive. Disk fragmentation and whatnot.


      • I could thank Morrissey for forming my writing POV at the same age as you likely, that we were in high school — and such good memories I have really ‘connecting’ with it, in a very pure fashion. I’ve had it in my head all week too and had to play it, but it’s still in there — vying with “All Right Now” by Free, played by a cover band at the wine festival a couple weeks ago. Let’s move before they raise the parking rate!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Kids are so much better at jumping in feet first without looking or listening or testing the water. I guarantee one of the things you will take back with you at the end of your journey is the sense of wonder you’ll feel for your girls, who have taken to this adventure with arms and mouths open, embracing it all.


    • That’s right Dina — you know it. Really refreshing to watch that fearlessness. Especially when the bravery pays off, as it did with their first day of school here this week. It also makes it easier when all the kids run up to them like they’re rock stars, and offer them gifts and play date invitations and so forth. Kind of strange but lovely.


      • It restores faith in the general goodness of people. Especially when you are pelted, news cycle after news, with the general shitiness of people.


      • Glad you see it that way; if I can restore faith in any way, that’s my thing. I’ve avoided the news for so long now, only take it in small bits. Can’t believe that guy with the terrible hair, running for president, but so be it. I’m very proud and at times defensive about being an American. As my good friend, a former Air Force guy said to me before we came here, “don’t be the ugly American.”


      • Keep not looking at the news. It’s not good. Be well.


      • It’s like looking in the mirror too long and too closely, isn’t it? Filters. Thanks Dina – just booked our 15.5 hour ferry crossing from Amsterdam to Newcastle, end of October. Looking forward to it. Best, – Bill


Leave a comment!

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: