A semi-fictionalized account of our experiences in Essen during the Summer of 2010
(this is going to be something different.)
=== == = == === == = == === == = == === == = == === == = == === = == === == =
There are these two friends. They don’t know each other yet.
The other guy wants to be called Nite, but he’s not here yet. He’s half Italian and lives in Germany.
You can call me Adding. That’s always been me. Ever increasing as a creator, never the destructor. Looking forward, upward, and toward the future.
And here we are reflecting on moments past.
I had a dream of seeing the world. The problem was that in order for my dream to become a reality, I had to figure out what “seeing the world” meant. And who did it mean anything to? Was it myself, the people I left behind, or the people I met along the way?
Nite was one of the first Germans I met.
“Hmm,” Nite thought. “He’s standing next to a shop in this narrow alley. Shops lining the corridor. He’s reading something aloud, like a speech but with an irresistible enthusiasm so strange and fascinating. I can’t avert my gaze. He looks like an actor who’s rehearsing his script. No, he does want listeners. He does seek an audience. He wants to entertain.”
Nite had endured another cold winter and both the joys and woes of a flash relationship that pizzled out too quickly. He was on the mend, oiling his bearings and rolling forward.
“All that keeps me here is my family. I think I’d like to move to France for a while.”
Adding was on a journey of sorts. Not of the journalistic or even historical kind many others take. Rather, he was destinationless. When he arrived at the Dusseldorf international airport in southwestern Germany, he had nowhere and everywhere to go.
He didn’t know it then, but he had entered Europe by way of Rhein-Ruhr, one of it’s largest megacities. He got in the first car that accepted his ride solicitation on the autobahn and ended up in Essen, Germany.
Adding was told it used to be a big coal and steel town, and a successful one at that. Home to ThyssenKrupp and RWE AG, the former at one point owned American Water. This was the model, post-war German city.
Today, the glory has faded. Nearby cities such as Dusseldorf and Cologne gained larger populations with better funded schools. Essen, however, did attract a good portion of artists. This was the first picture Adding took in Europe, right down the street from the Essen Hbf or “Hauptbahnhof”, the train station.
“Remember the boy in the wheelchair at Limbecker Platz? He asked if you were Jesus. When you said no he told you that he hated you and that you will go to hell.”
“Hey, Nite. Answer me something.” Adding tossed another empty glass bottle into the shopping cart.
They had to hurry if they wanted to redeem them before the store closed.
“Go ahead.” Nite walked on effortlessly.
“What do you think about Essen being named a Culture Capitol of Europe this year?”
“Nothing more than an annual thing. It’s supposed to give cities the opportunity to generate cultural, social and economic benefits for its citizen. Something to raise togetherness. A collective if you will.”
Adding was German-blooded himself, and wondered if he was genetically scripted to work well in a collective.
“I like how you conjure coins from the dirt.”
Where ya going?
You going somewhere?
I’m going somewhere, too!
Hey DEAD RABBIT
Where ya going?
You going nowhere?
I’m going nowhere, too!
Above, in that video showcasing post-war Essen, they name a concept that is still alive in Germany today. It’s been called “aloha” and “southern hospitality” in the U.S. We translate the word literally to “friendliness”, “coziness”, or “conviviality”, but in Germany the word is:
Adding is walking along the side of A3 in Bavaria, heading toward Nuremberg. He’s not sure if it’s thirty kilometers or one hundred to go. He woke up with earwigs in his beard. Adding took pride in the fact that earwigs found his natural face hair a more suitable material for living than the vegetation surrounding them.
A federal police car pulls over behind him and two officers get out. Adding knew he was breaking the law before he began walking it, but he had an explanation:
“Look, I know I’m not supposed to be out here, but I had no choice! Yesterday I got a ride from a delivery man outside Budapest, Hungary who didn’t speak any English. I tried to tell him I wanted to go to Vienna but he didn’t understand me and took me all the way across Austria to the German border. He kept driving through the night and fell asleep at the wheel, twice! After the second time I asked him to let me out of the van and he did at a rest stop. I slept there overnight and there was no traffic around so I decided to hoof it to the next exit and look for something to eat.”
They laughed. They offered Adding a ride and took him to the next gas stop. They told him he could hitchhike from there, but no more risky freeway walking…………………………………………………………………………………….
……………………………………………………………………………………………………….”I’ll be back later this summer.”
He had more journeying to attest to. Adding and Nite shook hands and hugged.
“Remember to flirt with the cute girls.”
“Just the cute ones? Man, you are seriously limiting your pool of fun interactions.”
When people share their lives unabashedly, you see a reminder that you are prone to malfunction and it is a totally normal thing to be. Essen won’t you keep the cogs awhirl.
J.W. Wargo (a.k.a. “Adding”) is a Nomadic Bizarro Storyteller originally from Boise, Idaho. His travels have taken him from Budapest to Honolulu and all points in between. He has a Bizarro fiction novella out called Avoiding Mortimer.
Nite is a poet.