I wake up to green walls and the subtle sun drifting through my window. The rooster crows. Is it the same rooster? I wonder. Is it a younger rooster? Is the other rooster dead? My blanket is thick and covers my whole body, including my neck and ears. Just how I always liked to sleep.
I am too excited to sit in bed any longer. I snag my camera from the bedside table and take pictures. I go into Ann-Kathrin’s room and take pictures. I take pictures of the hallways. I don’t want to forget it, I think. I don’t want to forget any of this again.
Can I take a picture of the smell too? I can’t forget the smell either.
I come back to my room and hear the rooster again. I look out my window.
That pink smoke, like always, coming out of the massive factory out my window. How can a factory look so beautiful? I stare at every tree and try to memorize them. Don’t forget them this time, I say. Don’t forget them.
It is breakfast time and I sit in my usual seat: to the left of Josa who sits on the end, to the right of Ann-Kathrin. Sophie sits across from me, Marie sits across from Ann-Kathrin, and Herbert is on the other end. I look down at my cat bread plate and wished I had brought mine with. This one says, “Gast.” Guest. Mine at home says Anne.
There is a schoko-croissant in the bread basket. It is for me. Someone remembered. I’m sure they all remembered.
I walk downstairs to Oma and Opa and see the kitchen where Oma and I sat every day after school. Flashback after flashback.
There were weeks where we didn’t say anything to each other. At the beginning, I mean. She never felt pressured to start a conversation, and I was too scared to speak German with her. But finally I asked her something. She laughed at me the first time. It was worth a try, I thought. But soon, we couldn’t stop talking.
Oma is thin and white. But she is there, as sharp as ever. I wasn’t worried to hug her as she sat on the couch.
“Och, Anne,” She said. “Anne Louise.”
Our first conversation:
How is your mother?
She is so good. She is working at the high school. She’s busy, but she is good.
And Charles? (Pronounced ‘Shalls’)
He is also good, he is the director of the art department at a company. He is good.
Is Cairo still living?
No, not anymore. She died last year right before my wedding. It was really hard. It was sad.
((My heart sunk when she said the name “Cairo.” How could she remember?))
How is your husband?
He is good. He studies mining engineering. He comes to visit next Friday.
And that excites you.
Yes. That excites me.
Is he chaotic like you?
No, he is orderly. We have to have a balance in our relationship!
She looked away from my eyes and lifted her head back and laugh. “Och, Anne” she said.
I looked out the window to see the garden. How have I forgotten so much?
Meiky is the same, only older. He didn’t give me the reaction that Cairo gave me when I came back after a year, but there was a subtle, “Hey, you. I know who you are” feel.
I felt nothing but happy as I was there. Nothing but pure joy to sleep in my bed, eat with the family at the table, laugh so hard my stomach hurt with Josa and Herbert, hear aunt Hiltrud’s stories, joke with Marie and Sophie, meet Ann-Kathrin’s boyfriend, make fun of Opa, and sit with Oma. Joy.
The rest of my adventures underneath:
Isn’t this just beautiful?
Aachen: The city of fountains.
I spent the evening with Ann-Kathrin in wonderful Aachen. We ate delicious food at an all-you-can-eat place and we talked and talked and talked. I love talking with Ann-Kathrin. I love Aachen. So. Much. Fun.
After dinner with Ann-Kathrin, I met up with my three friends from the Mädchengymnasium. This is a picture of Lara, Selina, and me. Lara came to visit me the summer of 2011, where we did that major trip to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, San Diego, LA, and Moab. Selina was one of my favorite people, along with her twin sister, Alina. I always always wanted to do things with them. They didn’t drink, like me, and were often busy taking care of family members at home. They had a huge family. It was such a happy surprise when Selina messaged me and asked if she could come with us.
And the lovely Nadine. Nadine was my very first friend, and very first friend to invite me to do something. I love this girl.
I walked through this alley way each day to get to the bus stop. But more than that, this alley way has “Lissa” and “Sara” written all over it. This is where we sat for hours taking pictures and laughing and posing like we were the hottest girls in town.
Mädchengymnasium Jülich. I had to go back to see it. I felt weird staring at it. My first thought was, “Please don’t ever make me go in there again.” Haha! But it was good to see it. I miss Herr Mangold. I have forgotten about Herr Mangold. And Herr Fröhlich, who cried when I said goodbye.
And for the most important place in the world, Panciera. That ice cream. Oh my gosh, to die for. Ugggggg. I went here way too often.
My favorite, all time Antonbecher. With toblerone chocolate in it. To die for.
Sophie ordered Spaghetti eis. Spencer loves spaghetti eis. Josa told me how to make it at home for him. We’re try it out, K, Spence?
Herbert loving the tractors.
Fall festival, Herbstfest, in Jülich.
This is my favorite picture from the trip. Sophie has grown so much, it’s ridiculous. I love this girl.
Do you remember these pictures? This is where I sat by myself when I had breaks in between classes.
During P.E. we’d run down there.
There’s a new fountain in Jülich that I hadn’t seen.
Marie at the Dreiländereck, where Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands come together at one point. Marie just bought that jacket with Hiltrud earlier. I’m not a black leather stud fan, but I kind of love it on Marie and now want my own…
I don’t have other pictures of the Dreiländereck–Herbert has the pictures and my computer didn’t save them when he gave me his camera card. Dangit all the heck.
My one regret is not getting a picture with Oma. I told her we were going to take a picture and she scowled at me and said, “You’ll scare Spencer if you show him a picture of me.” I had to yell at her and say, “I don’t care, we’re taking a picture!” and she rolled her eyes. Each day I kept reminding myself to do it, and I didn’t. So mad that I forgot.
Oh, you guys, the weekend was so darn wonderful. Och, I love this family. I love my cities, my little village. It all makes me so darn happy.
I talked to Spencer yesterday. He said, “I have a feeling you’ll be dragging me to Germany the rest of our lives.” I couldn’t stop smiling. At least he knows. 🙂
Och, you guys I miss Spencer so darn much. I miss him like crazy.