Still here

This is terrible quality but you get the idea. While most of the snow is gone in the inner city, this park is the only area where there’s still some on the ground. So I come here as often as I can.

in Cologne, Germany – taken January 21, 2013


The first snow of the year

The thing with snow in this part of Germany is that it’s usually short-lived so it is actually extremely stressful for people like me who love snow more than anything. As soon as it starts and the temperature is just below zero and some gorgeous white begins to blanket everything – even here in the city – I’m like: OH GOD THIS COULD BE IT. This might be the only day of snow we get this season. Cancel all plans. You CANNOT miss this. Ohmygodohmygod. Get gloves and a scarf. Where is a good place to enjoy this? I don’t know I don’t know. It might stop any minute now. I need a thicker coat because I’mma stay outside until it stops. WHERE IS THE CAMERA. I DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT SHOES FOR THIS. I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS SINCE LAST MAY. WHY HAVE I NOT BEEN PREPARING. PLEASE LET IT STILL BE SNOWING WHEN I’M DRESSED AND AT THE PARK. OK I’M OFFICIALLY PANICKING. OH GOD.

— And then I got to the park, and it was perfect. Just all white and quiet and peaceful, and soft and cold and lovely. A few people were walking their dogs. Cars’ headlights made the freshly fallen snow sparkle. And I was just wandering along, smiling like a lunatic, caught between the joy of the moment and the lingering fear that it might be over by the next day. I looked up at the planes coming in from Barcelona and Casablanca, dipping through the thick clouds, and I imagined the pilots announcing: “We’ll be landing at Cologne airport in approximately 10 minutes. Local temperatures are below zero and it is snowing heavily. Thank you for flying with us and have a great day.” And I could just hear the passengers groan about how much they missed the sun and the heat already, and I thought: YOU IDIOTS, you got this so wrong.

Snow turns the world into such a magical, beautiful place. How can you not want this every day?

A whole lotta love

So much love on Facebook today. Reconnecting with old friends from high school. Which- isn’t that what they built Facebook for in the first place? We do this every time around Christmas. We ask around: Will you be back home for Christmas? I’ll get there the 22nd. Alright. Let’s figure out where to meet, what to do, who else will be there. It’s nice. I like friends who are good with only actually physically meeting up once or twice a year and still don’t feel like strangers.

Have also been planning when to send Christmas cards and who to send them to. I’m not a very social, out-going person. I like being by myself, I’m more comfortable that way, but sometimes it can feel lonely. Making my list of people I’ll be sending cards to, I realized I could never really be lonely at all and that there would always be someone there with a kind word or a helping hand if I needed it.

Got an email from an old friend from high school who lives in Brussels now so I don’t get to see her enough. It’s the invitation to her wedding (in court, the big blow-out will be next year) and at the bottom – seriously, tucked away at the very bottom, in small letters – it says: Pssst, we are expecting a tiny German-Moroccan! I read that about five times to understand that, yes, they’re having a baby. Emailed back. OVERJOYED. They are the best people, you guys, and they will make the best parents. I don’t say this lightly or often – I have very strict, broken, unreasonable views on who should get married or start a family that I mostly keep to myself – but these two are made to raise a family. The little one is due in May, right on time for the big church wedding.

And more roommate love today as well. Went for a long walk to the nearest city park and talked and laughed. Mostly planned her moving out early next year; what we need to think of, what stuff she will take with her, when I need to start looking for a new roommate. It was lovely. Just- Nike sweatpants, infinity scarfs, ponytails, windbreakers. Cold air, dry leaves, setting sun. So much beauty in these little details, little moments, it’s almost too much.

Spread the joy

My mom and I went for a walk through the fields behind my parents’ neighborhood last weekend, and took with us some bows and Christmas tree ornaments that we wouldn’t use ourselves this year. We put five or so on random trees and bushes in the hope that others would spot them and smile. You could probably call this littering but we chose to call it spreading the holiday spirit. Heh.

Home sweet home

I took the train home to my parents’ on Tuesday. So I thought in between telling you about the places I’ve lived (here and here), let me also tell you something about the place where I grew up and where my parents and my brother live to this day. It’s a small town in Northern Germany – far from cities the size of Cologne. And- it’s magical here. I had to leave, of course, to realize that. But that’s the way it goes for everyone, isn’t it?

I went for a walk this afternoon through the fields behind my parents’ neighborhood. The winter sun stood low and red and warm, it smelled like fresh earth and dead leaves, my fingers were cold, it was empty and quiet, and I could just breathe and- be. Just: one step after another on half-frozen mud, rain boots on my feet, Ryan Bingham in my ears.

I’ve been going a little stir-crazy in Cologne these past few days and coming home is exactly what I needed. I have some sweet little things planned – baking, window-shopping, coffee with grandma – and right now that’s enough. It’s good.

Went for a long walk with my mom through the fields behind my parents’ neighborhood tonight. After yet another day of heavy rain, everything was luscious green and extra muddy. And then the sun set, and painted everything in a warm, yellow light. There were actual amber waves of grain, and soft wind, and no one else around.

I’m going back to Cologne tomorrow – which in most ways is the complete opposite of the above – so this was a lovely end to my one-week stay up North.