Understanding ist einfach

Bowie mural, Kreuzberg, Berlin

Bowie mural, Kreuzberg, Berlin

I tried wearing the same pair of jeans every day until something happened but nothing did. It was hard to remember what day it was. They asked us at the airport when we talked to the Bundespolizei, who were nicer and more relaxed than the Customs people at their desks with their guns and their laptops and their tightly cropped cuts — it gave Dawn an anxiety rash around her neck when they said we’d stayed in Europe too long without a visa, that the Schengen was a European community that also included the UK, but didn’t understand they were wrong, and there was an argument among them in the Customs office over the rules and they told us to go upstairs and ask the Bundespolizei, and we wondered for a moment if we should just slip out the side door and stop telling the truth about everything for once, like everybody else: how we’d come here willingly to Stuttgart Passport Control to ask if they could stamp our passports since no one else did when we crossed from England to France, and now it was our word against anyone’s how long we’d been here, and thought it might look bad we got here late July, and then left late October without any proof of when we’d returned to the Schengen.

It seems the gray has a stranglehold over the south of Germany. The house is old and dark and the heating is localized to the corners. I lay in bed in the morning encased in myself not needing to get out of bed but knowing I should to write, though the ink’s run out of my Pilot V5s and I lost some of the story thread I was batting around like a ball of yarn last month, what can sometimes feel like a maze, writing.

Stefan is starting to take on qualities of his dad Willi, whom I met on our first trip to Germany in 2004, with Dawn’s parents over Christmas. There was a party at Stefan’s house (his dad was childhood friends with Eberhard), and they grilled cuts of meat and vegetables on a Raclette and for dessert, sliced banana in bacon fat that Willi lit with brandy (we had to open the windows so the alarms wouldn’t go off) — and there’s a photo of Stefan’s dad and Eberhard, with Dawn’s dad and my step-dad from that Christmas: three out of four of them would be dead in just a few years starting with Willi, then Dawn’s dad Dick, my step-dad John, none of them more than 68, Willi barely 60.

In Berlin, Stefan and I reminisce about his first visit to Seattle, two weeks before Hurricane Katrina, 2005: Dawn and I were housesitting for a couple lesbian radiologists we met in our PEPS group; they had an unfriendly cat we had to feed but lived right on the water near Alki Beach in West Seattle and had killer views — and while Dawn was in the bathtub back at our little house, Stefan and I stood in the kitchen watching her cat Phyllis eat a mouse, marvelling at how quickly she gulped it down, every little bit, the tail, the claws, the head — how she chewed it like a piece of fruit or a nut and just left the face behind like a tiny mask, and Stefan and I had to laugh and say Wow, that’s some cat.

And back at work on a Sunday morning in my office with no one there to get my laptop so I could catch up on work at home, I’d missed some while Dawn was at the hospital visiting her dad and I was home with Lily — nothing looked the same anymore at my desk, it all looked lifeless and unreal like stage props when no one’s there — and I didn’t understand yet why I felt so disconnected with things once so familiar, how a loved one’s life ending can make you rethink yours.

I get attached to things more than I should like these jeans, and maybe that’s why it’s hard letting go of the old coats and hats when someone’s gone; maybe they are more than just props and costumes, they’re souvenirs of a time we want to remember, like the word souvenir in French means the same, to hold onto something so we can look back upon it and return, to keep a part of ourselves and the ones we love alive in our things.

Snape's potion room at Universal Studios, outside London

Snape’s potion room at Universal Studios, outside London

About pinklightsabre

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

27 Responses to Understanding ist einfach

  1. Suzanne says:

    Embrace the time, the memories made create a new dialogue for later years well done

    Like

  2. byebyebeer says:

    I’m a pilot V7 fan myself. No getting attached to individual pens, as I buy them by the dozen, but they’d better keep making them. A good pair of jeans are also priceless. What happens when we give them up? Nothing. Life goes on. I don’t know why we have a harder time letting go of things as we get older. You’d think we’d remember.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Is the V7 like more precise than the V5? I’ve been using those pens for maybe 10, 15 years now, have even gotten superstitious about them (meaning, I can’t use anything else). Like I’m a baseball player or something. The letting go is funny and I get worse about it, more sentimental. Missing shit before it’s even gone and then enjoying it, and blogging about it. New, untapped realms of the pathetic. And the same familiar streets, too.

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      • byebyebeer says:

        The other day I got sentimental listening to a Henry Mancini playlist of songs that are way older than me (which led to a high sounding theory that we retain the sentimentality of loved ones once they die). Pathetic! I have found lately that if I take a picture of something old that I think I want, having the picture often does the trick. Yes, the V7s are the most precise, superior pen on the planet and if pilot ever discontinues them I may turn my empty pen husks into some sort of weapon. I too have loved the precise series about that long. (We’re a couple of weirdos.)

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      • pinklightsabre says:

        I have a friend who used to use those ultra precise pens to write song titles and do little squiggly art on mixed tapes in the early 90s. Want to talk weird (but like, extraterrestrial cool)? He made a series of tapes by a band that, if you set them upright in the correct order, spelled the name of the band in the spine width-wise across like seven tapes, “W-I-R-E.” That’s pretty precise.

        Liked by 1 person

      • byebyebeer says:

        I hope your friend found new outlet for his genius. Pens are big these days and I overbuy them for my daughters because I want them to be weirdos too. And because I am a precise sort of person, I must note V7s are less precise than the V5, but I don’t like the flow. Guess I can’t handle that much precision.

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      • pinklightsabre says:

        That’s pretty awesome. Something about roller balls and ink control in that.

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  3. kirizar says:

    I do like how you ended this with a poignant reminder of a favorite actor of mine. And I am not just a little bit jealous that you got to see Snape’s potion room, even as I would have shed a tear for Alan Rickman.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      It was poignant, seeing that the same week he passed away, at that studio outside of London where those three kids in the cast grew up, spent 10 years of their lives — pretty neat. And terribly weird to look at those wigs and costumes and think of the people who occupied them. I’m glad you connected with it too, thanks. Life is funny that way. Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  4. walt walker says:

    I get attached to things too. But not clothes. I tossed out the first two cell phones I ever had when we moved. Wish I hadn’t. I’m more likely to be nostalgic for people and places and times though. Especially when I can’t possibly get back to them. With a passport though, you can’t win. Fix it, don’t fix, they’ll get you either way. Hope you get back on track with the book soon.

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      Clothes are stupid, I don’t know what my problem is. I got sentimental over some socks I left behind in Belfast which seemed fitting though, for them to be left behind in Belfast. Probably because they were a proxy for something else, that’s always the thing: the symbols. I threw out a first generation iPod, can’t believe I did, irresponsible on multiple levels, but so be it. Thanks for the well wishes on the book. I started transcribing from my journal, the handwritten stuff from last month, this morning — and that’s always sobering somehow, like listening to music you recorded as a would-be band that sounded perfect at the time but less so the next day. So, working through it — but still working, I suppose. Had to post this today, to write something somewhat new, to feel better about myself. Not alone in that, I’m guessing.

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      • walt walker says:

        Not alone in that, for sure. And don’t forget the first draft of anything is shit. You have to dump it all out on the table, and then see what you can make with it.

        Liked by 2 people

      • pinklightsabre says:

        That’s exactly it, thanks — I repeat your words as a kind of motivation to get out of bed and keep doing it. Today, better than yesterday. I read from an Elizabeth Gilbert post last week that frustration is a necessary part of it, in fact it’s more common than not, and if you aren’t up for the frustration you won’t be able to do it.

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      • walt walker says:

        I sometimes hate writing, but I always like having written.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Yahooey says:

    Jeans, socks, and a shirt. I’m not going to ask about the garment that hasn’t showed up in the last couple months.

    I keep on telling myself that I like the feel of well worn cotton yet I still wish that the holes had shown up somewhere less strategic. The new jeans just don’t feel as comfortable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      The strategic holes, alright. These jeans are like one of the sick-looking horses from the show War Horse, limping across the stage. Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t stop listening to the Cocteau Twins.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yahooey says:

        Sounds like my pair prior to the strategic holes. I threw them out when the bottom part of my leg finished outside more often than in.

        I’m going to avoid following you down the Cocteau road.

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      • pinklightsabre says:

        It’s a dark road that has no end and makes no sense but at times feels good, out of sheer desperation.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Writing is indeed a maze. It started somewhere, once, but once in there, the end, the path, the direction, sometimes even the light gets lost. Plus there are no doors, just corners. Endless corners and corridors. Keep it up. We’re enjoying your maze.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      My favorite book is Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and the protagonist is named Daedalus, after the Greek myth, which was deliberate and probably important to Joyce in ways I’ll never understand, and I think he was also confounded by his own maze. You’re right about the no doors, just corners, the sometimes losing light. That’s all good. Thank you Angela, I’m glad you connected with it this way and happy you’re enjoying it. Bill

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  7. ksbeth says:

    things flow in and out of our lives and maybe we yearn to hang onto some of them, so as not to lose ourselves in the flow of time, and to hold on to it for dear life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Yeah Beth, I’m enjoying writing about that now — a good topic for mid-life, as I’ve gone through things from the past and often wondered why I’m still holding onto them. Seems a universal thing, fun to pick and probe at.

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  8. Are you here in Stuttgart for a while? Drop me a line, there is lots for you and your family here than most visitors realize. (And yes, it is very grey here right now!)

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      Hi Jadi — what a lovely offer, thank you! And yes, I will send you a note via email. We’re about a half an hour north of Stuttgart in the Neckar river valley off the 27, a town called Besigheim. Which is beautiful by the way, if you haven’t been yet…maybe you were here for Winzerfest in September, or maybe you were wise, and avoided all the madness! Thanks again and I’ll send you a note. — Bill

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  9. The mouse story was hilarious. Seriously. Are you a hoarder? They have TV shows about hoarders. Google an episode. It’ll cure you. You’ll get all Zen detached from material things and whatnot.

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      My mom and step-dad, who’s since passed, border on hoarders. But how can you not, when you’ve got these floh-markts here in southern France, in Germany, and an eye for collectible things, like old clocks, snuff bottles, antique deux chevauxs? I’m butchering the French language here, je regrette. Glad you liked the mouse story; there’s one much, much darker I’m saving for The Book, or the Basement Tapes. When my friend Stefan and I recounted it in Berlin, he recalled it as “just the tip of the nose with two eyes connected to it remaining.” Glad you share a love of the dark with me Mark. There seems no end to it. Bill

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