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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Anniversary

This summer is the 10th anniversary of my first trip to Germany. It was my first trip outside of the U.S. without my family and probably the single greatest influence on my life thus far. It's the experience that led to my decision to continue learning German after high school & it planted the idea in my head to someday live in Germany. Crazy, huh?

The morning of my departure (late May 1998) from the Will Roger's World Airport in Oklahoma City, my dad handed me a sealed envelope right before I boarded a plane to Dallas with my oldest and dearest friend, Dr. U.G., and my high school German teacher, Frau B. Yeah, it was back during the time when non-passengers could say farewell at the gate. At any rate, my dad instructed me to not open/read the letter until we were flying over the Atlantic Ocean.

Later, somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, I read his description about his first time crossing the Big Pond. Today, that letter is in the same place as the letter he wrote me a year later when he sent me off to Smith College. That time, he told me not to open the letter until I was in my dorm and it was about his first time moving away from home after he joined the Air Force.

Those first words of wisdom on my way to Germany really helped me calm my brain during the 10+ hour journey. Unfortunately, it did nothing for my stomach. The first thing I did after arriving at my host family's house was run to the bathroom and promptly puke up...well...everything.

Puking my guts out in a toilet is my very first memory of being in Germany. My second? Waking up six hours later and eating zwieback.

Saturday (July 14t 2008) the aforementioned Frau B arrived in Hamburg with her German exchange teacher-partner, Frau Berger. Technically, we were all Frau Bs of some sort. I hope you can in some way differentiate between us. They were only in town for a day (they left a few hours ago), but it was such a completely appropriate way to "celebrate" this anniversary.

On my way to pick up the other Frau Bs, I totally and randomly ran into some people, with whom I went to high school. It was completely independent of the visitors that I expected. So I was, for about half an hour, sort of blown away by running into not only people from Oklahoma, but also people from Oklahoma that I knew in Hamburg. It vaguely reminded me of a scene from 2 Days in Paris.

The link that I just posted is not of the scene, but it's a funny movie anyway and you should check it out.

My main question this weekend, however, was how was I supposed to entertain 2 middle aged women. Frau B is in her late 50s and Frau Berger...I'd guess in her late 30s. So, I figured the generic Hamburg touristy tour (harbor, downtown, and general sightseeing) would do the trick. The big street festival portion of the Altonale was this weekend, so I thought I'd throw that one in there too, seeing as how I live in Altona.

Apparently, they had gotten the skinny on Hamburg before their departure and, shortly after their arrival, announced that regardless of what they undertook during the day/afternoon, they HAD to go to the Reeperbahn (Red-light district) at midnight. And being the gracious hostess that I am...I obliged.

So, yesterday evening, around midnight, I took my former high school German teacher, as well as another teacher from Berlin to the Reeperbahn -- despite the promise to myself to not set foot in the area until after the Euro Cup 2008.

Luck was on my side, however, because 2 beers later and three rounds of Mexikaner (they really loved those Mexikaner) they decided to pack it in for the evening. Originally, they planned to go to the Fischmarkt this morning, but thanks to the "massive" amounts of alcohol they consumed they were unable to get cracking until 9:30 am. So we switched up the plans and it worked out ok...

But now I'm all tuckered I'm off to bed.

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