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
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
"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"
"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!
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.
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.