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not all that glitters is gold

… because sometimes it’s just the twinkle of the gleaming bathroom fittings.

Yep, I’ve spent the whole day tidying up, putting things away and other things out, and dusting, vacuuming, polishing, scrubbing, … And who’d have thought that cleaning was actually so suitable for producing the proper Christmas spirit?!

I sure didn’t expect that, but it seems to work. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’m looking forward to having (almost) all the pack back together. My two younger sisters are arriving home tomorrow and our brother will join us on Sunday. True, our parents are somewhere in southern India, cruising a National Park on a motorcycle or something equally cool, but it’ll be so nice to have all my siblings back together! Since there’s five of us, that rarely happens. There’s always at least one somewhere abroad for any family event throughout the year. But we usually manage to get together for Christmas!

So I’m preparing some local dishes for the two that are coming from abroad (one from the UK, the other from Berlin, which is not abroad as such, but it’s on the other side of Germany, so it counts!) for the weekend, and planning dinner for the 24th and when we’ll go to Church and what we’ll do in between… We’ll have our grandmother join us on Christmas Eve and so far, the plan is to go to Church for the afternoon service, which is weirdly early, but the later one is always so packed and it might be nice to go about it in a more leisurely way. Then we’ll have tea and gingerbread and each of us can show some photos of what they did this year – catching up, you know? Then we’ll have dinner, then do the presents – which don’t exist this year since we’re all broke and out of ideas and time, but we’ll pretend there are some – and then on to dessert and champagne! Sound good? Yeah, I think so, too.

And I can imagine how ecstatic our dog will be when they all start showing up! He almost has a heart attack from joy every time one of the pack turns up.

Have I mentioned that I’m looking forward to seeing them all again? Even if it means taking all my office/work stuff out of my sister’s room and turning it back into a bedroom – it doesn’t matter, I just want her to be happy to be home again. That’s also the reason I polished the bathroom fittings, because that’s part of coming home: clean, fresh bed linen, a glitteringly clean bathroom and local food. And a dog that is narrowly avoiding a heart attack from sheer joy of seeing you.

lost

Last week was the first time since I’ve been back, the first time since I expected it upon coming back, the first time since I was a teenager, that this senseless, panicked aggression, that sense of suffocating and having to claw and shout and scream at other people came over me. That feeling that if I don’t scream, don’t burst through walls, don’t shock people, don’t hold on to myself while raising my voice above all the white noise, all the muttering, murmuring, mumbling, stumbling, … if I don’t assert my self, I’m going to slip under and just sink into the deep, well-lighted, comfortable depth of routine and stability and expectations and days going by and never come to the surface again where there is wind and laughter and storms and danger and change and waves and dreams and space.

 

this afternoon (word picture)

I’m sitting in the reading nook at the back of the garden, on a comfortable chair, my laptop on a small table in front of me, feet propped up on a stool, right below an orange cloth that is fashioned tent-like above the wrought-iron structure that shades this corner. The Moroccan lamp dangles down from the highest point and isn’t lit because it’s bright afternoon.

Outside my shady tent my youngest sister lies on the soft green grass of the garden, reading a book and tanning in her bikini, while dragonflies zip through the air around her. Birds chirp and sing and sometimes the far-away humming sound of a plane can be heard, as it cuts its way across the pale blue sky and the wisps of clouds up there. Playful gusts of wind tease the branches of the roses that have climbed over the arched garden gate and flutter my tented roof.

On the terrace, separated from the grassy garden by a stone bridge over an artificial little brook that runs around two sides of the garden, with little ponds in between, is the terrace, where my father naps in the sun, and my mother reads on a reclining chair in the shade. The dog moves from shade to sun, from sun to shade, and cannot decide if one is too hot or the other too cool. Whenever one of the big black flies, or bumblebees, or dragonflies or bees come too close to him, he jumps up and snaps at them, trying to catch them, but he never succeeds.

All around, trees are softly waving their branches, blue and purple and yellow and white and pink and red flowers are nodding their heads in the breeze, and on the pond, pink and white waterlilies have opened their petals and float serenely on the glittering surface.

It is a long weekend in early summer, and I’m so very happy to be where I am.