She flips carefully through the red, paper-bound notebook. When she finds the poem, she reads it aloud slowly, pencil in hand, occassionally erasing and reworking a word or a line as K & I listen reverently.
She doesn’t realize how beautiful she is, lit by the sunlight while the teutonic countryside flashes by in our train window. Her hair falls in elegant waves even though we don’t have a hair dryer and she’s been sleeping on it wet.
She was sick when she arrived—and she’s not really better yet—but she’s cheerful and uncomplaining.
When K and I ask about her work, she professionally describes the nuances of crisis management. She claims to be uninteresting, but she can analyze Schumann’s piano suites like nobody’s business after we attend a performance at the Gasteig.
When she speaks in German, her voice is low and animated—more musical than her English voice. Sitting there in the biergarten, I listen to her German conversation with my refugee friends as she promises without hesitation to take an 8 hour train ride so we can meet them together.
She navigates the the complicated public transit system with perfect ease so we always arrive exactly as planned. It’s amazing the way she does this whole living-alone-in-a-foreign-country thing with so much confidence and grace.
In Garmish, she carries the backpack up the mountain after I’ve completely run out of breath.
We match each other for stubbornness—both demanding to sleep on the floor on our last night, insisting it’s the other’s turn for the bed.
In the morning, she walks to Edeka to buy eggs for breakfast before B & I even wake up.
She always beats me at Bananagrams—and I guess she could beat me at almost anything—but I don’t mind, so we play again and again.
In the evenings, we all dance to music that would have appalled younger me: Taylor Swift, Owl City, Meghan Trainor, Walk the Moon…
We’re happy, free, confused and lonely in the best way / It’s miserable and magical oh yeah…
Somehow, I’m pretty sure we spent more euros on books than anything else (except, of course, transportation and food). At the Munich Readery we managed to purchase 3 poetry collections (2-Denise Levertov, 1-Hafiz), 2 Peter Whimsey mysteries, and a WWII novel whose title I’ve forgotten.
And as we rode the train to the airport on our final morning, we took turns thanking God for our precious time together.
To my brave and beautiful friends—you both amaze me. When I was little, I didn’t understand how anyone could cry from happiness. Now when I think about you, I do it.
Lastly, please remember: on a bad day, there’s always lipstick. Audrey Hepburn