Beim Suchen nach etwas gänzlich Banalem, dem Impfpass nämlich, beim Durchblättern einer Mappe mit losen Papieren, nur im Vorübergehen, denn im Vorübersuchen sagt man wohl nicht, auf einen Halbsatz von dir stoßen. Vorbei ist es da mit dem Suchen und messerscharf fährt mir Dein Satz unter die Haut, die dünn ist wie altes und ganz und gar verblichenes Pergamentpapier. Ein Halbsatz nur und schon verloren, so verloren bin ich, das Blatt und Dein Satz fallen mir aus den Händen. Da liegen sie nun auf dem alten, gemusterten Teppich, der schon bei meiner Großmutter die Schritte dämpfte, aber die Sätze verschlingt er nicht. Ein halber Satz nur und schon bricht sie auf, die große Wunde, meine Achillesferse, deine Worte. Und vom Teppichboden aus springt mir die Sehnsucht ins Gesicht, krallt sich mir in die Haare, zieht mich am Arm, tritt mich in die Knie, umfängt mich als eine einzige, große Woge, als reichte das aus, um Dir ein Wort zu entlocken. Ein Worthunger ist das nach Deinen Sätzen und hieße es auch nur an der Tür zu lehnen, in einem schattigen, dämmrigen Treppenhaus und Dir zuzuhören von Weitem nur, vorsichtig und ja mit keinem Fuß auf die Dielen zu treten, denn bemerktest Du mich, die Tür sie fiele sofort ins Schloss. So fällt nur die Sehnsucht über mich her, die aber spricht nicht, die ist nur messerscharf und fährt mir tief in die Seiten. Ein halber Satz, nur aus dem Augenwinkel heraus, nicht einmal ganz gelesen, reicht für das Bodenlose, ohne Ufer, keine Aussicht, vor allem keine auf ein Wort von Dir. Nur diese würgende Sehnsucht, die vor mir liegt auf dem Boden bleibt und bald liege auch ich neben dem hinabgefallenen Satz und sehe zur Decke, zur Tür, aus dem Fenster, wo alles stumm ist und still bleibt und niemand ist, wortlos bleibst Du und alle Suche vergebens, die Hoffnung lange vergangen.
Still today you pass by two massive white pillows with two similar looking figures on top, when entering the town. The depicted antique heroes carry each a shield in their hands. The shields look impressive even when not being polished for many, many years. Quite is the town and you can leave the car anywhere. Still the trees are of astonishing beauty. At the entrance of the once so splendid park you see wonderful old copper beeches next to centuries old oaks and massive chestnuts. Splendid it is hereto walk under their shadow and the light that falls gently through their leaves lets the ground shimmer in a magic light- green. Still an old fountain framed by white gravel paths appears at the end of the path. The fountain does not work. Once a castle stood here but nothing is left of the home of Malte zu Putbus, who died in the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen in the last days of the long twelve German years. A couple of years later the authorities of the GDR decided to blow the old castle into pieces. This worked out quite well. Only a few steles mark the old outline of the castle. Not a single soul is to be seen in the park and for half an hour I close my eyes under a lime tree. I dreamt of horses racing by with drumming hooves but when I opened my eyes the park was empty as before. Far away a couple poses for photos. The groom a broad massive man leans against a tree and to his knees his bride is busy not to loose balance while desperately tries to look romantic. Everywhere grows wild garlic. At the right hand corner of the park is a café. Bismarck has been here is written everywhere. I am not quite sure if this shall convince people to enter or not. However, the terrace is big and soon the roses will open their blossoms. The waitresses have a rather bitter charm but this might be a tradition since Bismarck’s fist visit. The cake is heavy and very, very sweet. I miss badly the fluffy lemon tart of my grandmother,think of the heavenly chocolate cake I tried a few weeks ago and would give the original Bismarck letters for the grocer’s wife scones. Then the wedding party arrives and I am reminded of all my prejudices towards weddings. Quickly I leave. The city is dead as the park. The houses all white and all renovated look empty, the form a circle in its middle the theatre. The theatre is closed. The sole bookshop of the town sells nearly no books at all. The sole antique dealer sells postcards produced thirty years ago. 1 Euro a postcard. In front of a bakery old men sit and talk about whatever. I wonder what the people living in this white circular town do all day long? Do they waltz at the market place when it is dark? Do they walk on Sunday mornings through their park? Do they never have the desire to enter a book-shop and leave with a pile of books under their arms? Do the children never play ball or hide and seek in the meadows of the park? Do people here never want to dress up and to have dinner in a place with heavy white linen table-cloth and to see a play afterwards? But I do not know and drive back. At the roof-top of the hotel terrace I sit and look into the wide landscape. The Baltic sea shimmers blue and of a bright yellow are the rape fields. But when looking a bit further down the road I am sure I can see the tree-tops of the old copper-beeches of the once so splendid, so astonishing park that frames Putbus, a small town at the southeastern cost of Rügen.
Oh don’t run so fast, says the moon and bends his head to get closer to me. Oh, come, come on says the lilac that grows white and velvet among the hedges and wants to draw me into his arms. From an wide open window an old Fado melody is to be heard. Dance, oh, dance sings a voice in my ear, come on take my hand and let’s disappear just the two of us and the voice of Joana Amendoeira will carry us away. Ours is the night and the summer leans just at the steps of the bookshop around the corner and silently smiles. A bicycle slowly passes by, but too fast he is anyway that I could ask him for a dance. The darkness takes my hand, seducingly soft and with the scent of the very first hay and throws blossoms in my hair. A golden summer the darkness promises, gentle hands and a firework here and then. And for moment I stop to look for the keys and take a deep breath before I walk upstairs into a flat that is rather cool and silent with its old wooden floors and the clock ticking a bit too slow for so many years.
Things between me and Amsterdam never worked out very well not to say they could not be much worse. I was nineteen years old when I came to see the city for the very first time. I was quite a distracted person , some might they say this never changed but nevertheless I had my head full of romantic pictures. I saw me and K. my boyfriend back then wandering around tiny streets, sneak around old book-stores, climb upon an old attic of an once magnificent Dutch merchant and to hop on a boat to see the famous canals. But nothing like this was about to happen. When we arrived somewhat around 9 PM, K. left me and the luggage behind to sort out some kind of accommodation. Soon after he left I was surrounded by a group of drunken, old, probably homeless men, they all smelled as if they had breakfasted raccoons. They barked at me in Dutch, but even worse they laughed at me wholeheartedly and I was unable to figure out why I made them laugh so hard. K. neither came back nor picked up the phone while I desperately tried to call him. After two hours of waiting now surrounded by a group of ten men who gnarled and laughed and drank I decided to leave and probably looking like a clochard myself with a heavy rucksack on my back and a even heavier rucksack clinging on my arm I walked off and marched straight into the hotel closest to the station. The hotel was shabby and smelled of sweat and fast sex. Finally K. remembered my existence and called in the background I heard a female voice. I cried my eyes out and met him in the next morning. The girl he preferred to me was called Marijike or Anike and did not look a bit distracted at all but healthy with her long blonde ponytail, her broad hips, and shiny pearl- white teeth, she looked very, very protestant, self confident and with disgust I noticed that K. stroke softly along her dimple chin before he turned towards me. K. mumbled an excuse and asked for his bag. For a second night I lay on the bed and cried like an old beaten dog, than I bought a train ticket and left. I swore to myself that I would never, ever set my foot into this city. A few years later, my dear companion of former days F. had passed all his exams and was now formally a doctor. This called for a celebrational trip and he as a magician could not have done better, presented two tickets for a trip to Amsterdam. I tried to smile. Maybe I thought, I will see now the canals, the tiny streets, the old magnificent buildings in the Prinsengracht and happily wander through the Rijksmuseum. I did not look right or left when arriving at the station, the hotel looked nice, F. was happy and I knew his friends for years. I was not concerned when thy headed off to do whatever because they were no longer 18 but mature men. And 200 metres away from the cosy and lovely smelling hotel I bought myself a wonderful pair of lemon colored summer sandals with wedged heals. I strolled around and looked down at my feet. Amsterdam,I thought deserved a second chance. I went back to the hotel to doze a bit in the friendly sun. I must have slept for a good while because when I woke up I had missed several phone calls by F. I called him back and was barely able to understand what he was saying. But I understood enough to realize that he was stoned and drunk. Still in my new, beautiful shoes I hurried down and when I reached the place, I heard F. saying sorry and then he vomited and my beautiful lemon colored shoes, were no longer, new nor, lemon- colored. The taxi driver neglected to take F. in and so he leaned on my shoulder and we stumbled along. I would swear that I saw Anike or Marijike at a corner, laughing at me with her shiny pearl- white teeth and her very, very protestant manner. The shoes went into the bin, F. could not walk nor talk for the following three days. Then we had to get back to work. I swore to eternity never, ever to return to Amsterdam. The years passed by. Friends told me of concerts in the Concertgebouw with beaming eyes and praised the newly opened Rijksmuseum. I smiled and denied. Then a fortnight ago, L. called me, she had booked a trip to Amsterdam but O. lying in bed with a heavy cold, would never make it over there without coughing his soul out. Just for three nights, she said and please join. She patted my hand and looked like a puppy. I sighed and agreed. We arrived, the hotel in the Apollolaan most pleasant, the sky blue and the Rijksmuseum a splendid temple of art. Oh, Frans Hals. L. had to drag me out with mere force. A friend had recommended a restaurant. Specialized on fish, L. said and smiled gently. Fine with me and off we went. Oh, said L. look oysters. I looked and shook my head. Though he salmon was tasty and according to L. the oysters were as fresh as the day itself. I nodded. We strolled back slowly and went to bed early. In the middle of the night L. woke me up. She was feeling unwell, she said and for the next three days I accompanied L. to the bathroom and back to bed. Obviously the oysters were not that fresh anymore. And I could swear somewhere at a corner a group of homeless men gathered, laughing out loud. When leaving the town I swore again, may all other people see the canals, walk across the tiny streets and watch out for the buildings of the old, once so splendid Dutch merchant families, Amsterdam will never, ever see me again.
Two car horns honk loudly. One train arrives at Lorimer Station. Another one leaves Hewes Street station one minute later. It is 10 PM, but the warmth of the day still stays with me at the terrace where I sit and look down on the street. The sun is long gone, but the wind is gentle and very much unlike New York. On the street two young woman, tall and with slender legs and enormous heavy, golden earrings dance slowly to music from their iPods. An old woman carries her groceries home. A woman, middle aged, who wears a pink top and jeans shorts rushes into the laundry shop at the Corner of Union Avenue and Broadway. Her boyfriend, who waits inside of the silver car, turns the music louder. Some Latin American popstar sings for all of us. The glasses in the cupboard wave gently to the music. Then the motor howls and soon after they disappear into the night. A group of builders finishes their meal at the Mexican restaurant two doors further down the street. They look worn out, with their dusty boots and white helmets. Two of them yawn. They all turn their heads as simultaneously trained after a group of girls passing by. They softly swing their hips. The men watch in silent admiration. A tall man with broad shoulders and a tattoo of a dragon on his left calf comes by on his arm he carries the tiniest Chihuahua I have ever seen. The little dog wears a pink T-Shirt. Proud looks the man, as if he were a proud father, who accompanies his child to school. Up and down he walks, sometimes he stops and smiles looking down on his arm. A group of Hassidic men walks back home from the synagogue. Hastily and slightly bent forward they go, in their hands they carry their prayer books. One man walks alone, and stays behind the group of those nearly running, while humming and singing. He stops underneath a balcony. „Yankel“, he cries, hey Yankel, are you there?“ But maybe Yankel has fallen asleep or has his parents- in law over for dinner, whatever the case may be, he does not answer. But the man does not give up that easily. „Yankel, hey Yankel“ he shouts with urgency in his voice. But still no window is opened, no curtains are moved and everything remains silent from Yankels side. Finally, the man leaves but he sighs deeply, before he hurries to catch up with the other men, who disappeared around the corner a good while ago. Oh, Yankel I think, what a mess. But then, new voices appear under the terrace. The laundry shop closes and the whole family, who runs the business gathers on the street. Arguing and laughing, they pull down the shutters and in a Spanish, too quick for my ears, they run for the train, who will arrive at Lorimer station soon. Two women come out of the shadows to look for bottles in the bins. They carry already huge plastic bags full of them. Twenty cents, they get per bottle and their business is a tough one. The men from the Deli on the other side of the door lids a cigarette. On the balcony next to me a young boy, maybe five years old, rides on a rocking horse, faster and faster as if he would sit on a racing horse crossing the endless and wide prairie. But he is not and soon,oh so soon his mother comes and calls him back inside for the bedtime shema. Reluctantly, he follows her. And I myself get up from my chair to join E. and B. inside, who are arguing for hours what to prepare for Shabbat. Will you make a cake, asks B., for sure, say I and before I close the terrace door I ask E. and B. „if they would know a certain Yankel?“ „Yankel?“, they say, „No, never heard of him“ in a most unsuspicious way but both can not hide a smile in the wrinkles of their eyes.
We are tired. We are alert. We search for a beginning and always for more sun. We sing, most often half a tone to high. We cry. We think of you and you and you. We are lonely. We are many. We search for answers and never let the old questions go. We get lost. We want to go home. We search for direction. We never arrive. We look back. We have cold feet. We love books. We take things personal. We miss you and you and you. We begin, we run away and we come back. We never fall back on our feet but stumble over open shoelaces. We leave things open. We write. We open the postbox and hope to find your letter. We lose keys and never saw Lost in Translation. We sleep, we dream and too often we wake up from a nightmare. We came to stay and moved on. We hurt and why can we not hear you? We love you and you and you. We read. We close our eyes. We wait and we come too late. We find a penny, but the luck promised never reached out for our hands. We love, desperately. We run away. We are haunted. We are fast and so, so slow. We are so many, so few, so much more, we are.
Some people say WholeFoods is an upscaled and mostly overpriced supermarket. They are probably right. Other people would never, ever do their grocery shopping somewhere else, with a voice bursting of moral superiority they explain that their way of shopping will make the world a better place. They are probably right as well. I love WholeFoods. WholeFoods is a paradise, even when not for the first two reasons.
So, you have to imagine a rather exhausted Read On, who after long and indeed overwhelmingly hours in a museum sinks back into a chair. Ouf, say I, ouch, say my feet. Both are right. But even in paradise you have to get up again to order a drink. The drinks are all named, not as the grocer’s wife across the ocean would do, who calls a carrot juice, a carrot juice, in paradise all drinks have marvelous names. Berry Boost or Green Splendor and to my great regret-but even in paradise not everything is perfect- they contain kale. But then you are most well-off. You sink back into your chair, in your hand a wild mixture of squeezed vegetables, on your knees the The New Yorker, the sun shines on your back and you still think of the marvelous Madame X painted by J-ohn singer Sargent some hundred years ago. But in paradise silence is not the way to go. A few minutes, after your first sip, a man as made of marble arrives with the very same desire as I a few minutes ago. Even from the back his appearance is impressive. Slim and tender are his legs, as if he were Apollo’s nephew and in New York one never knows if this isn’t the case, an expensive haircut and of course a well- trimmed beard, a sweater that looks expensively shabby and while he waits for his drink, he stretches slowly back and forth, he wears massive headphones and when he picks up his drinks, he kicks up his eyebrow and turns towards me. Clumsily as ever I yawn. „If I would mind“, he says, and looks at the chair next to me.“ Not at all, say I. and do not even look back up from the New Yorker. He stretches again,and out of the sudden, he says as if he would mean it, „lovely pair of shoes your wear“. I wear my oldest pair of sneakers that once were lilac but now are at best to be called indifferent. I nod. „I mean, he goes on, they fit you really well.“ I look at my feet and then back up to him. Oh, thanks, say I and try very hard not to laugh out loud. He bites in his muffin, I drink juice. Two women to our right discuss the advantage of almond milk. He smiles lazily and he smiles at me. All women and WholeFoods and paradise as well I assume are full women smile at him. I try not to laugh too hard. „The sun“ he says, „the moon“, I reply and he nods gravely. „I was wondering“ he says, and now I am kicking up my eyebrow, did I see you in a movie some time ago? „No, I say, I am sorry, but I rather don’t do movies.“ He smiles again just to jump up, „listen, he says, i have to run, but I leave you my number, just in case you want to meet for a chat or so.“ While he hands over the note with his number, his fingertips gently move towards mine. He looks like he will start singing in a moment and I have to bit my lip not to burst out in laughter, then he leaves, not without to turn back again, slowly waving, but I have turned back to the New Yorker, the juice and the sun, giggling here and then, the number still on the table. I love WholeFoods. Actually, it is paradise.