Tag Archives: Frankfurt

Wieder Allein

Disclaimer:  Excuse me for being a giant mushball in this post, but I’m just recovering from my blubbering stage.  And, judging by the amount of consolation chocolate I’ve been consuming, I’m entering my blubbery stage.

My three weeks of constant companionship, eating out multiple times a week, and wandering around beautiful wintry cities dotted with Roman ruins and neo-Gothic cathedrals are over, which means back to the grindstone, by which I mean blog.  Stone.  Back to the blogstone.  So, shake yourself out of your post-holiday slump, quit forcing down the Christmas cookies crumbled at the bottom of the cookie jar (they’re stale dad, throw them out), and tell the kids to gather ’round: Denglish is back.

And I mean that in multiple senses.  I’m back to blogging, certainly, but I’m also back to dealing with my own Denglish, which, after three weeks of neglect (the only German to leave my mouth being the occasional “Ich hätte gern ein Schoco-Croissant”), has crept back into the recesses of my mind, and shows no interest in being coaxed out again.

But more devastating than losing my German is losing  my Joe, who never once noticed if I butchered a word’s past participle in the moments when I did speak German, or if he did, nary a once mentioned it, good boyfriend that he is.  (As an aside, one of my favorite aspects of our relationship is that we majored in subjects on entirely opposite ends of the collegiate spectrum, he preferring an education that lends itself to things like jobs, so I can remain “the one who speaks German” unchallenged).

But there’s other reasons I love him, besides the obvious reason that he doesn’t speak German.  Reasons like he’s good lookin’, and I’m sure there’d be other reasons too if I sat down and thought about it.  And it’s reasons like this that make everything just a bit better, even those miniature disasters you inevitably encounter when travelling.  Waiting around for him in the Frankfurt airport for eight hours because his flight got redirected to and then cancelled in Zurich

Lots of people showed up at the Frankfurt airport to welcome Joe to Germany, which I thought was sweet.

isn’t quite so bad because, last I checked, Zurich is closer to me than Fayetteville is, and so it follows that Joe was closer to me than he was a day before.  In the same vein, waiting around with a boyfriend for four hours at a deserted train station in the middle of the night because somebody (won’t name any names except maybe DeutscheBahn) screwed with the timetable beats waiting around by your lonesome.  Waiting around with Joe was doubly better than waiting around by my lonesome because he has a Connect Four app on his phone.

And so it follows that if the crappy moments are even minutely improved  by good company, the good moments are bumped up to best moment status, and there were plenty of those: shopping for presents at the Christmas Markets; laughing at him (jaded local that I am) dash from one side of the train to the other like a puppy on his first car trip, trying to take in every castle on our first train trip up the Rhine; having our first Christmas together (which was made even better by the deluge of cards and gifts sent from home – thanks again, everyone); wandering from Roman monument to Roman monument in Trier; dodging rogue fireworks in Munich on New Years (what a war zone that place

The Munich skyline, ablaze with vigilante firework displays

turned out to be); watching his jaw drop as he first laid eyes upon the Cologne cathedral; celebrating my birthday at Hofbräuhaus, as all birthdays should be celebrated; ducking into churches and beer halls and museums (what a trifecta) to get in out of the cold.  Even that dreary, miserable, longer-every-time-I-walk-it trek between Bingen and Büdesheim was better because I didn’t have to spend those 45 minutes alone in my head, feeling like a crazy.

Marienplatz

But now he’s gone, and that’s that, and I’m alone again (wieder allein, one teacher so gently reminded me), getting reacquainted with that feeling that comes only from spending inordinate amounts of time with yourself.  And it’s not so bad.  In fact, there’s some comfort in it: I sat in a coffee shop today with a book and realized with some satisfaction that no one was around to remark on just how much sugar I put in my cappuccino.  Then I noticed the crazy mix of music they had going on in the background (Creed followed by that “how will I know if he really loves me” song – none of that namby-pamby acoustic dribble you’d hear in an American coffee shop), and realized there was no one around to mock it with, and it struck me again that I’m pretty sure this is going to be a long and lonely winter.

Good lookin', musing on just how over-the-top sad that last sentence was.

Still, despite all my mopings, I’m glad to have a routine again, and lots to look forward to: friends and family coming to visit, a Fulbright winter ball and a week-long conference in Berlin, Karneval, classes to teach, posts to write, grad schools to get into, German to learn.  Schönes neues Jahr, e’erbody.

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Making Christmas

I’ve fought the Christmas post.  I have.  There’s no way to spin a Christmas post in a way that hasn’t been spun before: I’ve mentally written and rewritten, but by the end of it, I’m always either a Scrooge or a Buddy the Elf, heartlessly cynical or mindlessly feel-good.  Really, I feel myself to be more the father-in-A-Christmas-Story type – I like a good Christmas, but also, I’m in it for the turkey.  A nice medium.

But since I obviously have so far failed to channel this voice of reason (and besides, that particular voice has already used up the good lines. “Fra-gee-lay. Must be Italian”), I’m just going to take the path of least resistance, slap a title on this blog that could just as well be the title to a dysfunctional family Christmas comedy, and we’ll take the feel-good route.  So grab a cup of cider, hunker down in your one-horse open sleigh, and off we go!

Christmas has always retained an element of the Santa Claus.  Even after my parents sat me down and broke the news to me (a sad sort of milestone in any child’s life, but mine was sort of cutened up by my response: I cried and, through my tears, asked if Kyle knew), Christmas has always just sort of happened.  I buy a few gifts, I bake a few cookies, sure, but other than that, the chaotic family gatherings, the Christmas tree, the lights on the house, the parade of stop-motion Christmas specials on TV are all going to happen, irregardless of how much effort I exert to make sure that it all amounts to the Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  Santa Claus might as well drop presents down the chimney, for all I knew.

But then Christmas season started to roll around this year, and I realized with a sort of sinking feeling that the halls don’t deck themselves.  And with the arrival of a boyfriend impending, I felt, for the first time ever, the weight of making sure that Christmas feels like Christmas, an especially tough task when you can’t buy a tree, you have no capacity to bake a single gingerbread man, you’re not surrounded by family, and radio stations aren’t blaring “Last Christmas” at you like it hasn’t been out since 1984.

At first I thought it would be okay.  BFF Monica and her BF were going to fly in for a few days, and we imagined ourselves having some sort of sophisticated ex-pat X-mas, and I wouldn’t have to worry much about food because gastronomically speaking, the two of them make up for everything Joe and I lack.  And more importantly, I’d have someone here to share the blame with if Christmas just sort of didn’t show up to our dinner party, the floozy.

But then Monica’s visa application fell through, courtesy of the British Bureaucracy that Stole Christmas, and we were both left to tackle the Holidays on our own.

My Christmas spread out on my dining room table.

And I’ve tried my darndest to tackle them: I made a Christmas tree out of construction paper and glitter and set presents to my teachers underneath; I made the fried pecans my Grandpa makes every year (considering the still-charred kitchen ceiling in my parents’ kitchen, no small feat); I’ve prepared lessons on Christmas in America; I’ve searched for recipes that will amount to a memorable Christmas feast for two while still adhering to my strict two-burner policy; I’ve googled and googled for videos of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer to, as of yet, no avail; and if the radio won’t blast “Last Christmas” for me, I’ll do it myself, gosh darn it.

But then I found that, despite my determined, if forced, “Christmas! Will! Happen!” efforts… Christmas happened anyway.  Like cuckoo clockwork, it snowed the day after Thanksgiving, and Germany transformed into a giant gingerbread village, and the local Fulbrighters and I have, accordingly, been on a Christmas Market rampage

Lebkuchen at the market in Frankfurst

(current tally: 10, with at least 3 more in the foreseeable future).  As if this town couldn’t get any cuter, I was handed a piece of chocolate at the post office when I sent off a post card.  Advent wreaths and calendars and concerts have been springing up, and lebkuchen has been making a regular appearance in the teachers’ lounge.  My parents sent over some presents  to make sure I’d have something to open on Christmas Day, a gesture that made me tear up, and one student, when asked what he’s wishing for this Christmas, said “A laptop and more of those pecans.”  Joe insists that this Christmas will be a memorable one even without family/traditions/gift exchange, because we’ll be together, and, you know, in Germany.  And come to find out, Germans love “Last Christmas.”

Frankfurt

And if I can’t be around family this Christmas, that’s the best I could ask for (neverminding the Monica’s visa bit): a beautiful and bauble-bedecked area, a family to miss this Christmas, a boyfriend coming to spend the holidays with me.

And now feel free to cue to the final scene of any Christmas movie ever made.