19 November 2008

Thursday

This is my entry for Scribbit's November Write-Away Contest. It sure would be great to win this month's year supply of hair and beauty supplies as I'm to the point financially where even the most basic necessities are lacking, such as shampoo! Turns out thinking I had enough money for two years was 1. wrong, 2. not very smart because at the end of those two years you have to have money to make it somewhere else. With most things, you can really just keep using them until they've completely given out (like the pair of brown Sunday shoes I have that my feet come out of with each step--at least I still have those), but with shampoo, there's only so much you can do. Like only shower now and then. But I'm sure you've all seen through my scheme. You and I both know with all the people who enter this contest, and with my, er, interesting writing skills, the chances of me winning are slim. So you know I'm really just begging. What I need are mostly things that can be easily gotten here, like food. There's just lack of funding to get them. Anyway, on to the entry:

Thursday

On this Thursday of all Thursdays, I waited for a peep from my neighbor who is an American freak. Don’t worry, although the word “freak” sounds intense, as it was adopted into German, the negative connotation got lost in the transfer. It just means someone who is obsessed with something, an enthusiast. The first time I heard the term, I thought, “Well that’s not a very nice thing to say.” But now I can say with confidence of not hurting anyone’s feelings, my neighbor is an America freak. It took me a while to realize it. Of course, one might have noticed his obsession when he chose to be friendly to me when no one else could really catch his interest. Or when he only wanted to speak English and had to be ignored for a while until German was back into use. But what really brought it to my attention came after his return from being a summer camp counselor in Michigan. His picture-showing session lasted several hours with every little detail explained, including names of people and stories behind each photograph. All his t-shirts had American universities and teams splashed across the chest. And last but not least, his door had blaring and permanent visitors: a Michigan state poster, a Hayowentha sticker, and an Obama ’08 sticker. They are the first things I see when I pass his door.

But the day started normally, with nothing special in my inbox, no knock on the door. After my morning run that did little to warm me up, I was disappointed and only mildly surprised to find that only the water was unfrozen in the bathroom, causing goose bumps so extreme they hurt. I layered sweaters and jackets as I waited for my chamomile tea to cool down, but a look at my watch made me abandon the effort. Fumbling on a pair of gloves, twisting a scarf around my neck, and packing my laptop into my bag, I ensured my iPod was charged and set it to “random.” In the train, the people around me were weighed down with ignoring each other. I looked at my calendar and sighed. Just another day of trying to stay on top of things.

Class was long, as usual. My to-do list threatened to cause me great grief, as usual. I accepted the cold wind and limited hours of sunlight reluctantly, as usual. Though I had my phone with me all day, I checked repeatedly for missed calls but found none from my neighbor. After resigning myself to my daily fate of never finishing all I hope to accomplish, I walked to the train stop and stood, shifting from leg to leg, knowing that the metal bench would only make me colder. The warm ride home seemed long as the train left the city center and passed foggily-lit streets lined with old Gr├╝nderzeit apartment buildings and bare trees.

Walking to my apartment, I wearily made my way up the stairs, only to run into the neighbor I’d anticipated the entire day, the American freak. However, no particular attention was paid. Only the normal questions, “Isn’t it cold?” and, “How’s school going?” Clicking my door behind me, I left behind the politics and sports, English and universities. As I got ready for bed, I thought of talking and working together in a warm kitchen with extended family, of sharing the beautiful truths of life with each other at the table, of passing around the food until we were all ready to burst, of trying to decide which of Grandma’s pies to try first, of snacking on stuffing as we put leftovers in Tupperware and split them up.

That’s the best of America, I thought, crawling onto my smaller-than-a-single mattress. I pulled my two sets of covers up to my chin and waited for the sheets to warm up. “Happy Thanksgiving,” I said.

7 comments:

  1. Too bad this isn't a real experience. I made it up based on some true things.

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  2. Made it up? You had me going the whole time. VERY well written, here's hoping a year's supply is coming your way!

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  3. Thanks, it's good to have some motivation to write.

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  4. I hope you win! You should post stuff like this more often. I enjoyed reading it.

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  5. I didn't win, but that was kind of to be expected. Especially since it was kind of depressing (this is where I assure you that I'm actually quite happy here and last year realizing that it was Thanksgiving was just one of those interesting things you think about once during the day). Anyway, thanks for the compliments and welcome to Trying to Stay Calm.

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