Join me this month for stories of our time here in a small German village where we’re visiting with my mom. This series of blogs is named after a post from 2015, when we spent nine months in Europe but had to leave over Christmastime. Thanks for reading, Bill
Dawn and I lay in bed like two snakes wrapped around each other, taking what heat we could from each other. Forgot how cold it gets in my mom’s house this time of year. There are areas of heat but they’re confined to small spaces and in between you’re reminded it’s winter, and we’ve started wearing scarves inside. I tapped the big wooden beams walking downstairs with Charlotte and said look at that: it’s a 500-year-old house and just kind of leaks heat between the gaps in the walls and old windows. When we got on the plane in Seattle the pilot said the weather in Frankfurt was light snow but intensifying throughout the day, and for a moment I worried about the roads…but Eberhard was meeting us at the airport, a retired German cop and logistics expert, and he would have every last detail thought through, would be checking the conditions. He was living with his mom in the country now, sending me photos from his phone: the first snow of the season, right when we got here.
After we passed through security in Seattle we got on the train for the S terminal and hurried to my favorite restaurant, the one with the crab cakes, seafood, and good beers on tap. And thus began the airplane-hoarding mentality of travel, of airport-sized beers, eating everything they put in front of us whether or not it makes sense to and then going back to the galley for more: spotting the stewardess coming down the aisle offering refills and getting it down my neck to make room for more…feeling my hands and feet swell, my rings tighten…everyone leaning back, penned in on a plane with their monitors, our bearing with an arrow onscreen that cuts above Ottawa, across the north pole then down through Reykjavik, tilting the earth like a piece of fruit on a cutting board, counting down the miles and hours until we land.
And in the car at last with Eberhard getting on the A3, visibility is bad with the snow and clouds but it’s a Sunday and not much traffic, though we see up ahead of us smoke, a car on the shoulder on fire flipped over on its back reduced down to the frame, people on the sides huddledthere watching it, and I wake Dawn and the kids to look, I’d never seen such a thing.
Mom has goulash for us and fresh bread (Eberhard squeezes it, asks is this from today?)—cold cuts, pastries, crudités—and when I wake a couple hours later it’s 4 o’clock in Germany, they’re just waking in Seattle; mom and I open a bottle of wine while Dawn and the kids sleep, and outside it’s snowing more, mom doesn’t have any details, says there’s just a snowflake symbol on the weather, and somehow it feels good not knowing any more than that.