First, let me go briefly back to the beginning. Juergen was indeed waiting outside customs in Berlin, and his jaw dropped at our four enormous suitcases. But, he picked up his jaw in an instant and dashed off to find a luggage cart which he then loaded and hauled out to the car for us. And right there, five minutes off the plane, and I experienced for the first time what has become a constant frustration. I’m mute. All I could say was “Danke. Danke,” over and over like an idiot. I am wordy gal. I love language for all the particularities of meaning we can communicate. I know when I am happy vs. gleeful vs. content vs. ecstatic. I define myself as a wordsmith, but here I’ve reverted to a sweetly smiling girl honing the expressiveness of my eyes. Soon I’ll be able to post just pictures of my eyes and you’ll know what I mean. Juergen’s wife, Martina, already does. “Of course you can have that plum,” she says when I contemplate the fruit bowl at breakfast. “Yes, let’s go for a walk on this lovely day,” she says, just from my longing look at the sky.
So, around noon on Tuesday, we arrived at the Manthey house in the southwest suburbs of Berlin (I’m keeping a map of our important places here: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=103267503467317081080.00047379a0079883ec5b7&t=h&z=12 )
Martina had our first wurst ready for us, then solicitously suggested we take a nap. But, we were determined to stay strong, to beat jetlag all at once, and instead we got a tour of the house. Juergen and Martina had this house built for themselves in 1985, when they were East Germans, and have lived here ever since. They’ve got this place hooked up, all the way from a sauna in the cellar to a schmancy TV and stereo system on the top floor. Everything is spotless and modern, of course. We are staying in the oldest daughter’s room. She’s 28, married the same month we were, and lives a three-hour drive away. We’re scheduled to visit her next weekend. Best of all, Martina had a huge bouquet of lilies waiting for us in a cheerful orange vase on the desk. Our room smells so good. (This is something I can say auf Deutsch.)
Then, we had coffee, which turns out to be a daily event when Juergen comes home from work. He’d taken the day off to pick us up and help us settle in. J and M have a spotless, modern, automatic espresso machine taking pride of place in the kitchen. Fruit and several kinds of cookies round out this calming snack time.
And still we wouldn’t go to bed! I demanded instead a walk, an
d Martina, amused, took us around the neighborhood. The Wall stood only a few blocks from their house and its site is now a park. Martina said the night it came down, she and Juergen put the kids to sleep, ascertained that everyth
ing was pretty safe, and headed downtown. Our German isn’t good enough to capture the full story of the experience, and Martina’s tone was practical and unsentimental as she described it in streams of incomprehensible German.
And still we wouldn’t go to bed! So, Juergen invited us to watch STOMP! which I had never seen. I thought it was incredibly thoughtful of him to come up with something we could all enjoy despite our language gap. And I did enjoy it thoroughly. Finally, it was after 9 p.m. and we agreed to go to bed. We didn’t wake up until noon.