I hope that you don’t mind, but I have to skip over the monotony of the end of the second day. Yes, there were a few succulent tidbits–sitting all afternoon in a passenger terminal with eight Air Force K-9 dogs and their handlers, knowing that the dogs would be awarded seats with greater priority than I and wondering if I could find it in myself to be even a little bit offended by that (I couldn’t), wishing wistfully for a hot yoga class or a quiet corner to stretch the kinks out of my spine only to turn a corner and see the C-5 that was getting ready to take us on the next leg of our adventure stretching into an unbelievable downward facing dog to ready itself, the cacophony of screaming children, the loadmasters who all wore fictitious name tags with unbelievable names because they so loathed pretending to be flight attendants. . .it was all a delight, but also all of it a traveller’s story that has been told a thousand times.
I have to skip to this morning–to the delightful little flat that we have rented in the old city of Dusseldorf Germany filled with shops whose keepers wear waxed aprons and pubs where you don’t even order–you are greeted with frosty cold glass after glass of the crisp amber house beer in an ancient international, “hello.” I spent last evening jet laggedly unable to sleep finishing the book I was reading and reveling in the pretense that this was our home–separated from the Kabob house and brew house below by an intricately carved spiral staircase through a nearly invisible door–the Kabob makers live behind the shop and we live above. They filled the rain fresh night air with lovely well humored revelry that mixed beautifully with the music wafting from the apartment above. The guitar player was good and his friends knew all of the words to the songs. It was such a surreal scene that it didn’t even occur to me to be irritated by the noise until I found myself singing along with them to Everlong at about four a.m. I hope that today we will meet them.
I woke this morning and wandered a sleepy cobblestone block to the Rhine for a run. I’m not exactly a runner, per se, more like a person who moves a lot and likes to wear running clothes. People ask me, occasionally, whether I’m fast and I never know how to answer. “Sometimes” seems dismissive when I don’t mean to be but the truth, “I don’t know,” doesn’t seem to satisfy anyone who is truly curious. Now, this morning, I can say a few things with certainty. I run faster than a barge carrying fresh asphalt up the Rhine River and slower than a barge carrying fruit down it. I run faster than a garbage truck but slower than a beer delivery van. I run as fast as a group of seven German Polizei on their morning jog and have a short burst of ‘Kick Your Ass’ left over to embarrass them when they stop running and I’m just getting started.
I returned to find the courtyards of my new street yawning to life. I’m writing to you while sitting at a table at a small bakery drinking milchkaffee with sugar and trying to hear the locals pronounce the names of the pastries and the breads in the case so that I can try to order without the humiliating simian dance that I typically revert to while trying to procure pastry in foreign countries. Embarrassing, yes, embarrassing enough to prevent me from eating my weight in pastry while in Europe? Nope. I had ordered two milchkaffee intending to bring one to my husband but I might save him from the torture of becoming addicted to the delicious nectar and let him continue to sleep.
Today we are going to explore Dusseldorf on foot. . . most of you will probably just get a dirty postcard. While traveling might make me more worldly, it certainly doesn’t make me any more mature and I have seen some doozies in the shop windows this morning.