I have a simple excuse for not writing this week: words fail me. Really. I don’t know enough German to communicate in any meaningful way, but this constant straining to remember German words pushes those pesky English words into some unknown recess of my mind, thus suspending me in some strange language limbo. But then again, I suppose I knew this would happen weeks ago when I named this blog, so I can’t complain, I just have to deal. And pretend like I know what’s going on, and hope “Ja, hoffentlich,” answers whatever question I might be asked. It’s a funny feeling to understand only the gist of what’s happening around me – and I don’t want any, “But Lori, you’re oblivious in English-speaking countries, so you should be used to this, wocka wocka wocka” crap from you. Another excuse for not posting: I don’t have internet.
But bypassing orientation in Altenberg (it was fine, albeit exhausting) and moving full-speed ahead to Bingen:
I have a dreary little flat. There’s no other way to put it: one light bulb encased in a cheap paper shade suspended from the middle of the ceiling; two windows in the back too far out of reach to open all the way and too high to see out of; no heat source as far as I can tell; a kitchen faucet that doesn’t always turn off (which is admittedly better than my original predicament, which was that my kitchen faucet provided no water); and as of yet, very little furniture. No furniture means no surface area, no surface area means clutter, clutter means an unwelcoming little space. This, furthered by my lack of means of communication, makes me feel like hermit in a cave – worse, a squatter in a cave, seeing as I have had no contact with a landlord, and have not so much as glimpsed a lease agreement.
Still, in an impressive display of optimism, I know this phase too shall pass. I cooked breakfast for myself for the first time today (an aside: did you know eggs are not refrigerated over here?), and even as I ate it on the floor, I knew that eventually, I’ll be eating on a table. I turned on a pre-downloaded episode of This American Life (an aside: did you know that “download” is also a verb in German, and can be conjugated as such? The past participle is downgeloadet. Same goes for “google.”), and knew that eventually, I’ll have internet, and my little flat will soon be filled with familiar and comforting voices: friends and family and boyfriend via Skype, Ira Glass, Click and Clack. I’ll get a bike, get over my cold, find a grocery store/laundromat/post office, and figure out where that gosh-darned key to my mailbox is, and everything will be coming up roses, God willin’ and the creek don’t rise.
And this place does have quite a bit going for it. I’ve started to get to know the area, and it is very, very beautiful. My half-hour walk from my
neighborhood, Büdesheim, into Bingen is an enjoyable one: the majority of it is spent walking between the river Nahe and an impossibly steep slope covered in vineyards. The Bingen Innenstadt, the inner city, is a pedestrian-only zone full of friendly little shops and open squares perfect for strolling
around while eating hazelnut ice cream. This area opens up to the Rhine and an extensive boardwalk, where you can watch the ferries and the barges pass on the river, and the swans flap up to you expecting you to fork over whatever food you might have on your person. This area was especially boisterous this weekend, as there was a wine festival going on, and so in the evening, it was packed shoulder-to-shoulder with Bacchic revelers bobbing to bands playing music you might hear on your local “80’s, 90’s and today” station, or to my personal favorite, a band playing “Bluegrass Musik.” There was a row of carnival rides too, many of which showcased murals of poorly-rendered airbrushed Disney characters and paintings of risqué women, showing entirely too much derriere for a kid’s bumper car ride (why I suddenly have this ominous feeling that the next hit rap song will feature the line “Girl, back that bumper car up,” I don’t know).
Büdesheim itself is a residential little area chock-full of crazy architecture (see below) and awash in seemingly unnecessary commercial space: if you’re ever in need of a choice of travel agencies, shoe makers, or the HairFree Institut Bingen, boy, have I ever got the place for you.
And that, for the time being, is all the news from Bingen, where the women are strong, the men are good looking, and the children speak German way, wuh-hey better than I do.