Germany [Take 2, Part 6]: Delving into the past

Trip Start Sep 18, 2010
Trip End Jul 27, 2011

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Flag of Germany  , Baden-Württemberg,
Monday, July 18, 2011

Only 10 days left until my return to Toronto. I have been in Germany for a month and only now am on my way to my hometown of Pforzheim. Mum makes me feel like the princess on a pea. She worries the new pullout couch might not be soft enough. She went shopping to prep for my arrival. There is enough food in the fridge to feed an army for a week. There is a bunch of Euros in my old checking account she insists I should withdraw. She gives me a tea gadget she has when I mention that I find it an impressive tool. And on goes the list. Yet it is so difficult for her to communicate in a non-critical way. It strikes me what a special way she has to express her love and what an ungrateful upbringing she herself had. Family psychology at its best!

My grandpa cracks me up when we talk about his upcoming trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg. This will be the first time he'll get on an airplane. The man is 83 years old. I quote his words regarding this trip:

"Der Teufel muss mich geritten haben. Wenn ich zum Grab von Stalin gehe, pinkele ich drauf.." 
“ The devil must have gotten into me. When I get to Stalin’s grave, I’ll pee on it.”

The above is in reference to visiting Russia, where he spent 5 years from the age of 17 as a POW (his war crime was being German in communist Romania). Then he throws out Russian words and I half expect him to break out in Russian choir song (he used to sing Russian solos in the Rumanian Military choir). I cannot wait to hear about this trip when he gets back.

I am excited to manage seeing a lot of people I hadn’t seen in ages. Aaaaaaages!

-          There is Heiko, who used to be my dance partner and in my circle of friends during high school. He sais it’s 18 years ago since we last met. I think it’s coser to 16, maybe 17. Either way, it was amazing to catch up after this long.
-          Then there is Marco, who I studied Marketing with. Him and wife Mel are running their own store a few kilometers away. So they are tied up to their ears and rarely ever make it out. So glad to he did this time, after what I am guessing to be 6 years?
-          Rainer, a high school classmate. Last meeting was during our 10-year anniversary in 2006 for a mere couple sentences, and graduation in 1996 before that. Conversations about life and Google+ (they go hand in hand, no?!) made me miss to take a photo of us.
-          And finally Andreas, another university classmate, who I hadn’t seen since he left school, around 1998 I think. 13 years ago!

I also manage seeing some usual suspects. Two of my original Canada-gals from the very first exchange 11 years ago. And my good friends Nadine and Thomas, who always find time to see me. Sadly, I missed to meet one of my closest friends this time due to scheduling challenges.

A less fun undertaking was the attempt to sort through my old things. Mum is cleaning out my old room, so stuff has to go. There I was, tossing memories of growing up for two hours. Then another half day disassembling my cigarette box collection of 500+. A sad day for me. I’ve always been a pack rat. This trip as a whole and this exercise (my mum forced on me) was a brilliant way to learn to let go of material things. I am grateful for the exercise. But sad nevertheless. My memory has never been the best, so I cherish things like photos, keepsakes, old letters and all kinds of garbage to jog my thoughts and revel in good old times. There are so many things I came across that made me laugh at moments I had already forgotten about. Like this teacher quote:

Teacher Dissinger: Die Kreide ist eine Nichtvorhandene.
Classmate Freddy: S’isch nix meh doh!
Teacher Dissinger: Dann geh’ und stelle das Doh wieder her.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to translate this without loosing all of its humor. Forgive me, those of you, who don’t speak German/Swabian. This won’t make sense. (The closest translation I can come up with would be this: Teacher: The chalk is a non-existant one. – Classmate: Nothing’s left. – Teacher: Then go an re-instate its existence.)

In all those meetings I have with people here, I notice how different relationships, or rather conversations function here compared to North America. Even with people I haven’t seen in ages, and some whom I don’t really know that well (or never have), topics are immediately so much more personal and intimate than in Toronto. I am generalizing of course. But there doesn’t seem to be as much desire to save face or keep a fašade for fear of….I don’t know what actually…..disrespect maybe? Or fear of abuse of intimate knowledge? Who knows! I am not sure if this experience is exemplary to Germany or Europe or maybe just happens to be the dynamic I personally have with people. But I do know that it feels very authentic and I realize that I have lost that closeness with people over the years for exactly those fearful reasons I am struggling to define. Adding this to my list of things to achieve when back home in Toronto.

Other things I noticed being different here:
-          My dad as well as my mum’s boyfriend walking around the house (different houses respectively I should add!) in undies – no big deal.
-          People showing up to a party invitation even just 2 minutes after the intended start date – big big BIG deal!

On my last day in my hometown, it is Manu's birthday. I am excited that she happens to be in town as well and I get the chance to take her out for a spa treatment on behalf of our friend Stine in Hamburg as well. What a nice last day, helped by countless glasses of Prosecco ;).

Tomorrow, I am returning back to Heidelberg for one more day with my dad and granny. And that'll be it!
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