Monday, April 30, 2007

"Old Friends, Sat On Their Park Bench..."

I was pleasantly surprised the other day when one of my oldest friends in Germany contacted me via a comment in this blog. We go back to my third trip to Europe in 1982, the year I decided to try my luck at living and working as a freelance photographer there.

I'd already been to Europe on three seperate occasions by then and was hooked on their way of life. I arrived in Frankfurt to an exceptionally warm Spring, on April 15th and immediately got a bus ticket on the Europa Bus heading south to Greece. The trip would take me through every major island in Greece, which by the way is my most favorite country in the world and then back to Germany and north for the first time to Denmark. Today's posting is about my first trip to Hannover.

I can still remember putting my backpack in the train station's locker and going off with just my camera equipment and over-night sheet that was required for a stay at the youth hostel. I never did make it to the hostel though. I met Ludwig. He was this slim, blond, 31 year old guy who worked at the front desk of a hotel and just happen to be sitting in a little park where several ancient tombstones had been left standing. It had once been a cemetery. Now it was a place where people could sun themselves. He was curious as to why I'd want to make photographs of the place. I was curious as to why he spoke English so well and would find me interesting enough to chat with.

That afternoon would begin a friendship that still last today. He would become one of my most trusted friends in Europe. He would become my confidant, my sounding board, my brother in arms. His studio apartment would become a place I always felt welcome, to stay for as long as I liked. We did loose contact after I returned to America following my trip around the world in '95. But after this weekend, we are fast catching-up on lost time thanks to IM.

Ludwig is one of those "big hearted" types that would give you the shirt off their back if you needed it. When he was in Poland on holidays by car in '95 he offered a ride to a hitch-hiker from Russia who was trying to get to Germany to begin a new life after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Ludwig not only gave him a ride and put him up in his place once they got to Hannover, he even allowed the guy and his girlfriend (who arrived shortly after that) to live until his roof. I got a chance to meet them both during my trip around the world that same year. Today, the couple is married with German citizenship, their own home and a 7 year-old daughter who adores hip-hop. Now if that doesn't make you wonder what the word for "god father" is in German I don't know what would.

Before you get that translation book out, here's a poem:

Dear Heaven...

some nights she sings me songs about
applause dropped off a bridge. I play
a few notes on her sled ride & the us
in tomorrow is once again relevant.
Deeper says our passion with ink on
its sleeves or quality time disguised as
unquenchable puppets smeared into stars.

And at those
times it's spring
and far from language.

First published online at:
Copyright 2007 by Maurice Oliver. All Rights Reserved.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

we differ decidely on our respective views of the political situation here in the states --- when i volunteered to 'teach' poetry at grade schools i used dylam thomas' 'hunchback in the park', langston hughes' 'theme for english b', and some of the divine emily d's shorter poems as tools/thought-provoking measures --- interesting blog - will check back with it on occasion - rtegards zyskandar