Sunday, October 11, 2009

Kim in Hamburg, a birthday slipping past

Here in Bloomington, Indiana, it is still Kim's birthday, but Kim is in Hamburg, where her birthday was yesterday already. Happy birthday, most faithful reader of all! 'Twas wonderful to see you in Berlin in the springtime.

Memories: the bank in St. Pauli where we met, you thinking my darkling German boyfriend was the loud American among us, anyway we were talking English and you recognized him from a university class in Berlin / hours, hours, hours, just sitting and talking, walking and talking, both of us a little at sea in Hamburg with our German boyfriends, what we were doing there? underemployed, undercommitted . . . so much time to talk.

hours in the choir under Johannes's direction, hours in the pub playing Kutscherskat and Klabberjas.

Your stories: meeting Christian in Paris, moving in together the day you met, ten years later when I met you were still together and you'd followed him to Hamburg, living a life amid the windy streets and little-old-lady hole-in-the-wall shops and high-ceilinged rooms.

Your apartment: the funny things on your walls, little sculptures/paintings/self-made things that went in three-dimensional directions, all of it impressed me with its self-assuredness.

The cafe around the corner from your place on Stresemannstrasse where we spent eternities - was it called Unter den Linden? Ordering the little bowls of tricolor ice cream, and lemon juice drinks, and discussing whatever there was to discuss under the sun. Off to the movies on the subway in the middle of the night with Michel and Christian, watching some weird strange thing - did we all fall asleep except Michel? Or all stayed awake except Michel? Anyway, I do remember it was even farther into the middle of the night at Hoheluftbr├╝cke when we had to come sleepily home. I know you remember that night too, you mentioned it recently.

The American women's club of Hamburg - those ridiculous meetings we went to, you and I so did not belong but we went anyway, and it turned out some of the other people didn't really belong either. We went to a Tupperware party - it felt surreal.

Suddenly you had a baby. And suddenly you and the baby were gone, Chernobyl had happened and you wanted to take him to the States for a while where things were maybe not quite as contaminated. I think you and Martin were actually out of the country during most of the anti-nuclear demonstrations we spent our last few months in. And by the time you came back we were gone.

Now twenty-five more years have gone by, there you and Christian still are, three boys grown up and going/gone, you making a bilingual home for yourselves and for so many English-speaking women/mothers who've moved into and away from Hamburg. Always there for me/us to touch base with when we come to Germany. You thinking your thoughts, going through your own internal revolutions, reading and watching and thinking.

Showed a friend our wedding album night before last, there was a beautiful close-up of your face, glowing and beaming. Standing right next to my big sister, in fact, also glowing and beaming, and you looked so much alike! And you always were a little big-sister-like to me.

Happy birthday, dear Kim!

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