The Big Wagon

Trip Start Jul 03, 2011
Trip End Jan 17, 2012

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Flag of Germany  ,
Thursday, September 29, 2011

I had every intention of arriving in Hamburg at a reasonable hour, so I found a mitfahrgalenheit (ride share) leaving at five, hoping 9pm wouldn't be too late to arrive.  The person canceled so I took a ride leaving at six instead.  I got to the meeting point at 5:30 and looked in anticipation at every VW Golf that stopped there.  By 6:20 I started freaking out.  Out of principle I am not traveling with a phone, and was completely relying on this stranger to get me to Hamburg.  I didn't want to get up and start looking for a payphone in case he showed up and I wasn't there, so I anxiously sat there waiting, thinking of all the worst-case scenarios I could muster.

Andreea, an incredibly sweet Romanian girl, sat next to me to smoke a cigarette.  I explained to her what was going on and she let me use her cellphone.  I called the guy twice, but he didn't answer.  More panicked thoughts.  Andreea reassured me and asked if there was anyone else I could call.  I took some deep breaths before calling my host in Cologne, and she told me the guy had called to say he would be there at seven.  A wave of relief washed over me, and when he finally arrived at 7:30 I wasn't upset that I had been waiting for two hours, just happy I hadn't been waiting for nothing.

On the ride to Hamburg, everyone in the car got along and we chatted and told jokes to pass the time as we alternated between being stuck in traffic and speeding along.  If you've ever been curious what goes on in my head, I live in a constant self-narration.  So here it is, a perfect example of my disjointed thought-process:

After noticing we were driving 180 kph (112 mph) I thought: "180! That's fast! I should thank my lucky stars I prayed so much in Rosh Hashanah services today... Wow, I can't believe I just thought that, lucky stars, I'm so corny. But speaking of stars, I wonder if I can see any now..." At that I looked out of the window, and right in front of me was the Big Dipper, clearer than I've ever seen it.  In Germany it's called the Big Wagon, and I have to admit, it looks as much like a baby carriage as a pot.  Regardless of what it's called, though, I was looking at the same stars I would see at home.  No matter how much time has passed or how far away I am (at least in this hemisphere), that will always be true.  It strikes me as a beautiful thing.

I arrived, by the way, past midnight.  So much for getting to Hamburg early!
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