Saturday, August 26, 2006

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Right now the final moments of twilight are drifting by, floating downstream along with the current of the Neckar river that runs beside Heidelburg. The lamps that flank the banks of the Neckar cast an undulating glow on the rhythm of the river, as if the city is swaying toward sleep. It is our final night in Europe and I watch the light fade with a large degree of pensiveness. When Aaron and I were first married we always spoke of his sabbatical with reverence, and we crafted several scenarios of what we would do. At one time we thought we’d go to Bora Bora or Brazil. But in the end I persuaded Aaron to embark upon this journey of exploration of the way of Western civilization. We wandered up the spine of central Europe, from Rome to Berlin, and then down again to Austria, then up again to Frankfurt. We’ve missed a huge chunk of the continent, of course—one must visit so many other seats of seeds of our civilization, and I’m not convinced that there isn’t a vibration that circles the earth from every corner of humanity—but we’ve seen a good deal. A lot of art, a lot of nature, a lot of folk craft, culture, regionalism. I think we’ve been deeply enriched.

And now this thing that we looked toward for years has come to its completion. This year has already been fraught with endings and good-byes for me, so perhaps this evening carries the baggage of my fear of the milestones that have mounted in this my 43rd year. My life’s milestones tended to previously contain negative connotations such as divorce, or infertility, or debt. This year they have been sublime, yet the emotions they evoke still contain the residual panic I cultivated upon my old failures.

So tonight we sat and sipped wine and watched the fading day while we reflected on how much this trip has impacted our outlooks, how it has bonded us and challenged us and given us the precious gift of fond memories, and maybe better yet, the knowledge that on the worst of days, in the most seemingly insurmountable circumstances, we could rally ourselves (and each other) and find the light or the lesson as necessary. I’m a bit closer to a sense of understanding about my roots, which was very important to me. I have never had any sense of how place and ancestry has factored into my being in this world. I often feel very alone, ungrounded for the lack of connection to my roots. Wandering around Berlin with my mother, having her show me the modest apartment where she grew up, the places where she once danced, or where she pushed my baby buggy, was good for me.

Unfortunately I am no closer to understanding the holocaust, but I will write about that in another post with our photos of Dachau.

Europe is a fascinating, complicated continent. The initial gilding faded somewhat for me as our trip wore on, stripped away by a more clear perspective on things like local suspicion of outsiders, regional cynicism (aka nationalistic tendencies) and historical truths. But today, as we traversed up a steep incline called “Philosophiger’s Weg” (philosopher’s way), which culminates in a spectacular view of Heidelberg surrounded by wild and tame gardens, with wonderful friends who drove 200+ kilometers to see us before we left, I experienced a supreme satisfaction and sense of wonder about this trip. We were so fortunate to have had this opportunity. I wish I could confer it upon everyone I know, as I think it was mind-expanding (or maybe that was the absinthe I had again last night!).

I have many, many stories to tell in the next few months. I wonder how I’ll ground them all as they swirl around me in the postcard images that occupy my newborn memories.

It’s time to finish packing and sip the last of our wine which we purchased in a small market in Ruhpolding, Bavaria. Wish me well as I fly home—I’m a big chicken when it comes to tons of metal hoisted up into the sky. As they say in my beloved, albeit sometimes obnoxious, home country, auf wiedersehn, chuss, servus!

In front of the bulky and ostentatious Berliner dome (in the former east Berlin)


At 2:24 AM, Blogger Karina said...

It sounds like its been an amazing trip for you both and your stories have kept me enthralled. I look forward to hearing more about your journey and seeing more photos. kxxxx

At 12:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got the biggest smile from this photo! You and Aaron look so happy and so in love. I forgot that you will just be getting back as I am leaving! D'oh. I can't wait to get together at some time in the near future to hear all about the trip. ---Mere

At 5:10 AM, Blogger Karina said...

Hools I cant find your email addy and you havent updated your blog since your holiday - bad girl !!! Anyway I just wanted to wish my fellow libran a very happy birthday darls !!!!! xxxxx

At 8:10 AM, Blogger Carol said...

Hi! I found your blog after doing a search for "Ruhpolding," my favorite place in the world -- and noticed that we have quite a few similarities. I'm a first-generation American, with parents from Germany. My dad is a German Jew. I live in the Pacific Northwest...

Would love to hear more about you and your travels, as well as your past!

Come visit my blog and/or write to carolhsnider(at)gmail(dot)com.


At 11:24 AM, Blogger Pamela said...

Karina (I hope you're still checking in, my e-mail address for you appears to be out of date! And, I'm no longer able to get in to our STD site, it claims to recognize me and log me in, and then it ignores me. I'm so belated, but I wanted to return the Libran Happy Birthday, so do please e-mail me at the litlover address with your current addy. Thanks!


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