Wednesday, May 03, 2006
A trip down memory lane...
On Monday Eric gave me a tour of his old neighborhood. He grew up in the town where Gutrud lives and attended Elementary school there.

"I'll take you on the old path to school", He said taking my hand. We walked through a residential area lined with cute little German homes surrounded by perfect hedges, cherry blossom and pine trees.

"There's a big hill coming up that I used to go down on my sled during the snowy winter days with the neighborhood kids"


"hmmm", I said peering at the little slope

"Well..it looked bigger when I was 5 years old", He said thoughtfully.

We walked down at path leading to a big field


and then through the forest


and passed a field of sheep. It's funny how they just freeze in one position and stare at you utterly dumbfounded.


"Wow..this is just how I imagined it", I said "I can't believe you walked to school every morning... like in the 1800's. That must have been so nice and peaceful. No bus or traffic, just open fields and woods."

"Well..", Eric confessed "It wasn't always a field trip. There was a gang of older boys that used to wait for me just before I reached school and ridicule me. In the winter they would pull off my hat and gloves...Then they'd shove me into a ditch"


I thought back to the old photographs I had seen of Eric. He had blond hair in a mop-top hairdo and little German trousers. He had chubby red cheeks and the cutest little button nose. I imagined him being bullied by a group of older kids. "that's horrible!, What did you do?"

"Well, I ran home crying to my mother the first time it happened. I was six years old. She told me how hard it was to be a foreigner in Germany. She said I should try harder to integrate everyone"

"I'm sure that's just what you wanted to hear"

"Yeah right", He said "So I let them bully me for a while and I didn't fight back. When they shoved me into a ditch, I just wordlessly picked myself back up and carried on. I figured if I wasn't a part of the solution, I was part of the problem.. so it was my fault. I started to dread my walks alone to school."

"When did it stop?"

"Well, when I was 10 years old, I saw the boys teasing a little girl. They ganged up on her and started shoving her. At that point I just completely snapped. I wrestled the leader of the group onto the ground. I grabbed a handful of dirt and leaves. I shoved it in his face and mouth. I was in a state of rage"

"What happened then?"

"Well...here's the weird part. His face broke out into a huge grin. He then said "Eric! You are my bestfriend now! You have earned my respect! I didn't know how to respond."

I started laughing "You're kidding me!"

"No and it didn't end there! He took me home with him that afternoon because he said he had a gift for me", Eric continued. "He brought me into his bedroom with his younger sister and told me that he was giving her to me"

"He wanted to give you his little sister?!"

"Yes! Then he told her to strip for me"

"What?! "

"I was utterly confused and she started to cry! I insisted that I didn't want his little sister and I certainly didn't want to see her naked!. He took offense but I just ran out of his house horrified by all of it. But after that he didn't bully me anymore and we were friends...""

"My god..His poor sister..."

"Yeah, I wonder how many friends he offered his sister to" He said "The last time I saw him was at age 17. He told me he was going back home after graduation. His family had found a wife for him but he hadn't met her yet. He was so excited about getting married... I wonder how that turned out for him and where he is now..."

I started laughing at the thought of this. That's just bizarre!

We reached his school. It turns out it was shut down completely and abandoned six years ago. Everything was covered with rust and grown over.



"It looks the same as it did when I was a child..", Eric said walking around. "this is such a crazy trip for me to come back here after all these years..."



"This is the playground.. all the hopscotch markings are still here, just a little faded over the years." Eric said rubbing the ground with the sole of his sneakers. "This is where we played soccer."



That's the front door of the school.


If you peer inside the dusty glass doors, you can see the now empty hallways.. I imagined young Eric walking down those corridors with his little leather satchel..



It was really cool seeing these glimpses of Eric's past. Before it was all a mystery to me, now the stories he shared have a location I can see in my mind. We have such different histories and were raised in such different cultures.

On the walk home from school. Eric showed me his favorite swamp.


"This is where I caught tadpoles..", He said "I spent a lot of time here with my friends."


There's Eric being approached by a fat stray cat. It reminded me of Cha Cha.. I wonder how she's doing.

*****

We had a four day weekend at Gurtrud's house.

We've been in her house in the middle of nowhere and the days stretch on for eternity. No stores for miles, No internet, No long distance phone calls, no English literature, and only 4 German channels. I'm entirely disconnected and I'm only allowed to speak German! I'm really getting a taste of country life.

I've been holding up surprisingly well.

Except for my allergies which are flaring up. I wake up feeling like I'm dying every morning.

At night we play "Super Rummy" with Gutrud and drink Ouzo shots. Believe it or not, It's actually a lot of fun.


I could get used to this kind of life. The food Gutrud serves is amazing and it's always an elaborate set-up. There are a lot of strange rules to adhere to but I'm beginning to grasp the routine. I haven't messed up the table cloth in days. (go me)

Yesterday we went to visit Herman the German.

I'll post pictures of him in my next entry. I have to get back to work. In 2 hours we have to take a bus back into the boondocks for dinner and we can't be late.

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Just letting you know I'm still alive. I'm going to try to catch up on blog reading before signing off for the day. My internet access is extremely limited right now. This is my first time getting online in days. I'm way behind with everyone. I haven't even checked my E-mail yet. I hope everyone is having a good week.

 
posted by Clarity25 at 8:07 AM |


13 Comments:


At May 03, 2006, Anonymous kschic 

I love the pictures, are those like permanent outdoor pingpong tables? That just struck me as bizarre. I don't think I've ever seen those before!

At May 03, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous 

That's a crazy story with Eric and that Turkish kid. I used to have a bully like that in 4th grade. As soon as I stood up to him he also stopped and we became friends.

he didn't offer me his sis though. :) lol

It sounds nice at Gertrudes but I would go nuts without my computer or communicating with the outside world! It's cool that you are still updating when you can to let us know you are alive!

do you have a number that I can call you at???

p.s. I like the photograph of the clock in the other entry.
-Lucy

At May 03, 2006, Blogger MW 

Clarity: "It's funny how [sheep] just freeze in one position and stare at you utterly dumbfounded." Me: It's also funny how a whole herd of them will stubbornly refuse to grasp the concept of walking through an open gate into an adjoining pasture when being herded, but they will all religiously crawl through a microscopic hole in a barbed-wire fence in order to escape into someone else's pasture. ** Clarity: "I can't believe you walked to school every morning... like in the 1800's." Me: Or even in the 2000s in most places outside of NYC. ;-) ** Eric: "But after that he didn't bully me anymore and we were friends..." Me: If Eric can be friends with someone like that, then he can be friends with anyone. ** Clarity: "There's Eric being approached by a fat stray cat." Me: Stray cats usually aren't fat. :-) ** Clarity: "We've been in her house in the middle of nowhere and the days stretch on for eternity... I could get used to this kind of life." Me: I knew you had it in you! ** Clarity: "Yesterday we went to visit Herman the German." Me: The most popular rock-music bar in the small Nebraska town where I went to college was named "Herman, the German's." Ha.

At May 03, 2006, Blogger Kathleen 

I, too, found the permanent ping pong tables a little odd.

I love cat pictures! Of course, that's because I'm a complete sucker when it comes to cats.

Love the pics, but was it sad for Eric to see his school all closed up?

At May 03, 2006, Anonymous Jenn 

I'm glad you're still alive! :)

Eric's life sounds kind of like a storybook... getting bullied by a gang of Turkish kids and then stuffing leaves and dirt in his mouth? Being offered his sister as a reward for that?

Kent and I actually own that game, haha. Here it is called "Rummikub" or maybe that's what it is called there and you translated? Hahah. I can count in German but that's about it. :)

At May 03, 2006, Anonymous autum 

i was going to say what jenn said... rummikub is what we call that game. shane's mom has it and we play it with her all the time. i do like it, but i get so lost sometimes because she "forgets" to tell us the rules until something happens that we didn't know was a rule! :o) but, yes, i like that game.

the pictures were so cool! it totally made me think back to my elementary school. i haven't been there in YEARS. it's only about 30-45 minutes away, i should take shane there! that's so cool to see, and kind of sad it's shut down. ((and, yeah, the ping pong tables? that's so crazy!)

At May 03, 2006, Anonymous Emily 

What's up with those ping pog tables? Very weird.

I can't believe he walked to school through forests and fields like that either! I had a 30 minute commute by bus through the city. yuck. I loved the photos! Thanks for sharing that story too. I hated bullies in school. I had a lot of problems in middle school. I would very much like to visit my old school now and see what it looks like. It would be so so strange to see it abandoned and shut down!

Good luck in the country. How long are you staying there?

At May 03, 2006, Blogger Mike B 

Well, aside from being offered a sister, it wasn't too far away from an American boy's life. Except for the ping pong tables. If it couldn't be played within lines painted on the blacktop, then it wasn't played.

At May 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous 

what kind of camera(s) do you use? we're looking at getting a new one and i'd like some input from you since i enjoy your photos so much. :)

At May 04, 2006, Anonymous Vicola 

Hi Clarity, glad to hear things are going well. Am suprised so many people haven't seen permanant ping pong tables before. They have them in loads of places in France. The bullies in Eric's schools sound very very odd. Here they usually just give someone the odd smack, maybe flush their head in the loo till they get bored. There's no talk of giving their sister to someone or making any family members get naked. Perhaps it's a culture thing?

At May 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous 

clarity....
i am still around.....if you can not call me now due to no long distance....what was your reason before that?hmmmm?you have always had an absurd fear of the phone....but i bet you regret all those missed chances to call your best friend now huh?....it is funny for some reason your blog let me read it tonight..it usually freezes up on me!anyway i like my little blog in the ghetto..although i am a little insulted at your lack of visits!!!tara comes to see me all the time..does my location in the ghetto embaress you?having a friend in the bad part of the info highway?i thought better of you....sniff it is okay though...just keep me in a hidden corner not introducing me to the ''cool'' aol friends ..i will be okay ..at least heather and tara still love me and visit often!!!by the way that bubbles thing?..never works for me!!!!or am i locked out ?hmmmmm..the way marriage makes people forget old friends!!!lol...anyway you have been married 4 years......jeez i remember being in the hospital and missing your wedding how upset i was and how happy i was for you and eric!!!he is still so good looking too....i forget and then i see a pic...i re read some of our old journals and mags...did you ever relizr that eric looks alot like your perfect guy....you knew him before you met him...i am surprised you did not see it the first time you met him..lol...i still remember being down for my birthday and your offhand introduction when he stuck his head in to let you know he was leaving....i told you he liked you then ...but no...none ever believes michelle..lol anyway i miss our talks girl...glad you will be home soon...maybe we will get to see eachother in december i will be on the island with my cousin and stayin with heather....i read taras blog and your comments on missing florida made me laugh...i hate it here !!!this is my version of hell....maybe it was because of where you where ..all the college kids and freedom ....i even think back fondly of sarasota..lol..i am going to go know..if you do not know who this is ...shame on you..you do not deserve me for a best friend..lol i love and miss you girl..see you soon.....you know..you guys could visit me and tara too!!!!ttfn

At May 04, 2006, Blogger Alice in Germany 

You write beautifully and I love the pics. Do you write professionally?

All the best on your return to the US :-)

At May 04, 2006, Blogger Lisa 

I always wondered what it'd be like to really live in the country here. I imagine I'd like it very much. Probably disappear into the woods never to be seen again.

How's the hub recovering from his trip into the surreal? I went back to my old gradeschool once before they tore it down and the nostalgia was overwhelming. I fled before I passed out. I still mourn the fact they tore it down, though. I feel like someone has stolen something from me.

I just love your stories, Clarity. I hope you always have the desire to write.



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