This is Frankfurt, Germany, 2008. It is Tuesday morning. I am on the way to the library’s cafeteria, my office and intend to hold a writing session with whoever else of the writing group turns up.
I see their heads bent intently over their writing when I arrive, as I am late. I know this condition well, this immersing myself completely as if in a daydream and writing it all down. It lasts for about ten minutes, so I grab a tea and make my way over slowly. I sit down quietly and do not disturb their meditation with a word.
One at a time they stop; South Korea looks up and greets me with a silent wave and big smile, next True German nods across the table after completing the last sentence and finally Finland looks up too. Finland says to the others, “Who wants to read first?”
The others hesitate, a good moment for me to wish everybody a “Good morning”. Finland looks around in surprise,” Ah, Francesca, I didn’t hear you. When did you arrive?” We laugh and embrace. It is good.
My friends read their pieces that are about regrets of the past, troubles or joys of the present and hopes for the future. They read softly, for our ears only and it is possible in this place, empty so early in the morning. The free writing lets us relive our past and define our goals, which are so easy to lose sight of in the hectic of survival. We do not choose our words carefully, but it seems that the brain has done this work for us well.
South Korea has to leave soon, another Christmas party somewhere, one of the many. But first another free writing. There must always be time for another. Too soon our friend has to depart and we three are left musing on how to continue.
For weeks a thick layer of cloud has been covering the skies, keeping all rays of sun from reaching us and we wrap ourselves in layers to protect from the cold and wet. Finland has a car and proposes a bold escape. We will drive to the highest point in this area, the Große Feldberg (Big Fieldmountain). We are in city shoes and city dwellers, but decide to follow the pipe tune anyway.
Soon we are on the slopes of the mountain and wind our way up into the clouds themselves. We reach a break in the grey wall and rays of sunshine pour down on us. It lasts for a second. Finland laughs, could there have been a mistake, was that it? We continue up, up and then it happens again, only this time the sun stays because we are above the clouds. We pull out of a thickly wooded band around the mountain top and leave the car under the towers of the weather station. There is a layer of crisp snow and grandparents with sleds and little children. Our noses soon turn red as we walk around the mountaintop, out of breath from the unusual exercise, slipping in our city shoes and heated from the walk and the sun.
Finally we head for the restaurant where we write again. I am on an island of clouds. The sea around me is wild and wonderful. The waves lie smooth but no boats ride this sea. In my memory this day will taste of Milchkaffee (Coffee with loads of milk) served in something that looks like a soup bowl, I’ll remember how the sun burnt my winter skin and how I did not miss the world that disappeared. I must return to the world below the sea, invisible from up here and not Atlantis at all. I dive and take some of the air from here with me, to help me breathe. I take some of the light to store in my heart and bring to my children to share. I know that when we rose above this sea of clouds, I also rose from the clouds of my mind
Maybe you can walk on clouds after all.
It will be Christmas soon. I think about my friends from all over the world who have come to Frankfurt where we found each other: True German forever looking for truth and sincerity, Finland loving the cold and being so warm, South Korea in search of beauty and harmony and me wanting some peace. We felt Christmas on that mountain top when we shared the gift of light and air. No matter how we celebrate this Christmas Season, as a religious happening or a festive holiday, no matter from whatever cultural background we are: We have come together to give and share in this Frankfurt, Germany, 2008.
The story of Quetschemännche can be found here http://www.hunde-und-voegel.de/humor.htm Attention, it is written in Hessisch. Look for “Die zwaa Unzertrennlische” (the two inseperable)