Der Tag

Reunion: Me, Jen, Kristian, Collin, John.

Reunion: Me, Jen, Kristian, Collin, John.

I have trouble with Sundays in general. I can’t relax. I just think about the coming week. So it’s a glum day on which I avoid the real world by spending it alone in my flat watching bad TV and eating carbs.

I know. I know.

It’s still the weekend. Enjoy all of the moments of your life. Blah. Blah. And blah.

So the fact that I am on a train going to Germany is nothing short of a miracle. And if we’re talking about the miraculous, the fact that I am drinking at 11 a.m. is sort of the face of the Virgin Mary in the taco of my life.

But I am. We are. Lee, Collin, and I.

It’s all part of the plan.

John wrote to me a month ago. The basic story is that he and his wife Anja and son Emil live in Dresden, Kristian and Jen are visiting them from Lyon and John thought it would be a great idea if we surprised them by showing up from Prague. These four people were all in Prague in 2004, so we were expats and colleagues together. Life was a little wilder and freer then. Furthermore, we have similar experiences and lives and I have known them for 11 years. And like so many others who move overseas and teach, they moved on to another place.

So this is a great chance for a surprise reunion.

And it totally works.

We wait for a few minutes at the train station at Bad Schandau taking in the crisp cold air. A van pulls up and flashes its lights. Collin gives Kristian the middle finger and the looks on his and Jen’s faces are movie-perfect. They are so surprised that Kristian can’t even make a Kristian observation for 90 whole seconds. If you know him, you know that this is in the miracle zone as well.

After a short reunion, we pack into the car and head to a trail. We walk up into the hills of Saxon Switzerland on a path that cuts through massive trees and beautiful landscapes, and which we barely notice as we chat and catch up for the first time in years.

The promise of a restaurant and beer at the top of the hike drives us. When we get there we are ready to chase the cold out of our bones with hot food and German beer.

We all met in Prague years ago, and, life being what it is, haven’t seen much of each other outside of a couple of days every other year or so. There’s a lot to catch up on. And we spend a couple of hours in the restaurant eating tomato-based stews, sausages, drinking Hefeweisen, and laughing until our cheeks hurt. I don’t need to tell you what it’s like to see old friends and to pick up right where you left off. It’s uncommon, but when it happens it’s like being given an extra sense created just to give you a natural buzz. There is no clear explanation, I only hope you have experienced it.

After heading back down the path, on which Jen and I decide to take the scenic route and are watched by spiders, we hit another restaurant. This is where the Jagrmeister makes its appearance. Collin has a pink beer and we all approve of the french fries. The waitress is a charming grandmotherly type who peers at Kristian with genuine horror when he caresses her forearm with his fingers.

She doesn’t dawdle on it, but if she does we would have to tell her that that’s just what Kristian does. He is a tender boy who shows his affection. Especially after shots. In 2004, we discovered Becherovka together and from the years 2004 through 2007 my stomach was rubbed more times than in the previous thirty years of my life combined. And I was far from the only recipient of this affection. Kristian has rubbed the bellies and arms and backs of waitresses, students, colleagues, neighbors, and our former Director of Studies.

"Don't you tell me about land crabs!"

“Don’t you tell me about land crabs!”

Kristian also has a unique handle on the spoken word. He comes out with statements that would not make sense if they came from another person.

Kristian Statements from today:

“Don’t you tell me about land crabs!”(spiders)

“I can fart in the form of a question.”

“She presented teat! Everyone was ashen-faced.” (story about turbulence coping techniques)

“Why the hell are you wearing those sock fingers?” (referring to Collin’s toe-shoes)

I guess one of the reasons we are having so much fun is that for a little while it is 2004 again and things are a little more carefree and easy-going. Real world issues and problems are put on hold for a while. But as you all know, this time has to come to an end, and as we laugh we glance occasionally at our watches with that knowledge. There’s a train at 7:38 and we have to be on it.

And so we pile back into the car and pass around the Becherovka bottle that I brought for them. At the train station we say our goodbyes, which are never easy after a day like today. And I think most of us know that goodbyes do not get easier with age. We genuinely and profusely thank John for coming up with the idea for all of this. It has been perfect.

They stagger in one direction and we stagger onto the train. The steward in the dining car is grumpy and refuses to let us wait there for eight minutes until happy hour. Thus, she welcomes us back to reality and the Czech Republic with suitable gusto.

We have a few more beers to ease the come down of a bittersweet farewell and tell Kristian stories the whole ride home. It’ll have to keep us until next reunion. And now Monday fast approaches. My jaw literally hurts from laughing.

We have our last shot of the evening to land crabs, and the fact that we should not consider telling Kristian about them.

  1. #1 by greg on April 25, 2016 - 3:58 pm

    Great day Damo. I really enjoyed reading this.

  2. #2 by Colleen on April 25, 2016 - 4:20 pm

    This made my heart happy. Here in Singapore some of your other expat friends put the pics from this event up on a large plasma screen, creating our own captions for them, and telling a few “remember when” stories of our own.

  3. #3 by Kristian on April 25, 2016 - 6:54 pm

    Great stuff buddy. One of the best Sundays ever.

  4. #4 by Lonnie on April 25, 2016 - 9:23 pm

    Nicely captured and relayed. Which is incredible considering the amount of alcohol that was likely consumed. Cheers!!

Comments are closed.