If you believe in souls, or souls without homes they call spirits, than you can keep yourself occupied in my mom’s house imagining them. It can also make you nuts—mom says it’s hardest living alone here this time of year. The main area with the dining banquette is the oldest, but the framework on the ceiling is so low it presses you down, and the darkness from the old wood absorbs all light. I’ll stand in the passageway with the framed pictures on the wall, versions of ourselves when we were younger…and it feels like we’re peeking in through windows at our former lives, and fills me with a sense of loss and sorrow that creeps in like the cold.
It’s just past 8 in the morning and I’ve had two bowls of chili, a liter of fizzy water, my second cup of coffee—I took a walk along the river Enz and back again and then thought about a beer, but thought better of it. Monday morning before 6 and the Germans are starting to surface on Kronenstrasse, workers out salting the roads, doing it by hand on the walkways over the bridge in criss-cross patterns like a religious rite, like they’re thrashing the ground to keep the bad spirits down.
I had the early morning ambient drone music going and sometimes you can’t even tell if it’s on, it’s so quiet. I tried to go back to sleep but couldn’t, lit some candles to celebrate the changing light between the dark and morning so dull this time of year but precious, what little light we get.
We were all tired from flying but agreed to take a short walk in the snow so we could admire the scenes around town along the old wall, but there wasn’t much to see at night except the snow on the rooftops, and on the nearby hills where they grow the grape vines it had a ribbed look, the way the snow staggered along the rows—you could make out vague outlines of the hills, and I imagined the woods I used to walk through when we lived here, when I’d dream about what’s coming next.
Someone wrote something on the high wall along the bottom of the train tracks at the foot of the vineyards. It says in all capitals, in perfect characters LIEBE, LIEBE FRIEDEN!, which feels like a political statement, though benign (‘love peace’).
With no plans to go anywhere, Dawn and I speculate about making some. The kids and my mom want us to leave for a couple days, so we said no problem. We looked at Budapest, Bruges, Munich, Reykjavik, Transylvania (Romania), but landed on a small town near Strasbourg called Colmar.
I held my head on the chair in the dark and thought about death: is there something special you’re supposed to do (for your soul), something akin to birth, where you need to come out a certain way and if you don’t, your soul won’t live again? Is it a passageway where you have to make the right turns without getting the chance to practice it first…like so many things in life we have to get it right the first time, you just have to know?