Saturday, April 17, 2004

April 16, 2004

A glorious spring weekend here in Munich. Yesterday after lunch, walking through the Viktualienmarkt, the huge outdoor food market in the city center, Jenny started humming “Springtime for Hitler and Germany” from “The Producers”. I have been trying so hard not to mention WWII, Nazis, Hitler, anti-Semitism, etc., that I was knocked over by my very proper friend doing the thing I’d been warned against so many times, namely making fun of the dodgy past of this, my new home. But it made me giggle, that and the half carafe of red wine we’d split at lunch.

Later Friday afternoon, the sun still shining, I headed down to the beer garden in the Englischer Garten, which is very much akin to New York’s Central Park. Big difference however; in Central Park the sunbathers don’t take off their clothes at the first sign of any sun that might give their bodies a tan. These people worship the sun in the most frightening way; their clothes get taken off in the middle of a grassy field and they just lie down and soak up the rays. It’s absolutely bizarre to me that they won’t smile at you ever but they will take down their pants and reveal whether or not they have been circumcised (Note to self: Must stop looking!).

The Garten is lovely though, filled with people, kids, dogs, and riders on horseback, fields, hills, trees, and three beer gardens. The beer garden we went to on Friday is called the Chinese Tower, on account of a huge wooden pagoda type tower upon which an oompah pah band plays to the merry crowd of about 8,000 assorted drunks. But it’s a lovely tree filled place with a playground for children. People are hoisting liter glasses of beer called “ein masses” and are generally in good form. It’s an interesting mix of tourists, students, kids, Bavarians in traditional dress (these folks really will use any excuse to don a pair of lederhosen), and yuppies all decked out in the latest. I’m smack in the middle of a table of expatriates, Brits and Americans today. Henry sniffs the ground for any sort of leftover that may have fallen on the ground. We spent several hours there sorting out the world. As night falls, the lights in the linden trees begin to twinkle creating an almost magical atmosphere, perhaps more the result of several of those huge beers than anything else.

It’s Saturday morning and Chris is off at his golf lesson. In order to play at a course here in Germany one must have certification, something like a license. I like our democratic way of doing things – any idiot with a club and enough money can easily play at a municipal golf course. Everything here is regulated to the point of it being very off putting. To me it smacks of elitism. They just love order, whereas at home in Jersey we all seem to thrive on chaos, me included. Rule breaking reigns at home whereas here jaywalking and obeying the traffic signals are major preoccupations for these most orderly people. If you breach the law and decide to live dangerously by crossing at a light where there are no cars, they yell at you. Their reason is fur die kinder, for the children, to set an example, something I won’t even bother addressing here!

Thank goodness for Henry though. He seems to be breaking through the glaciers with his effusive friendliness. He’s such a trouper, wagging his tail constantly, sniffing up a storm. It’s a whole new continents of smells for him and he is reveling in it. He goes happily along with me all day long. Yesterday he was sleeping on the U-Bahn which is the subway. Not too phased by anything when we are together, but completed unnerved when alone. I am waiting for a bout of homesickness which is bound to come, in probably the most awful way. Yesterday I was walking amidst all the flowering trees and bushes and thinking that this probably will be the happiest season of my life, Springtime in the most literal way possible. Here I am, with the person I have waited for my entire life, forging a new life, learning different things, practicing tolerance for a culture to which I cannot warm, but eager for the adventure. I miss my home, but I guess I’m realizing that you have to make a home within yourself, a safe place.


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