Monday, February 18, 2008

Boa Sorte

The transition to spring is arriving much too early this year. With every passing day, the signs become more visible and more plentiful- the tiny yellow blossoms dotting the fields, the pale green buds on the trees, and the chilly yet blindingly sunny days that draw the city from its winter sleep and onto the streets and slowly-filling terraces. These days I also feel as though I'm awakening from a semi-comatose state induced by a lack of sunlight and far too much time spent alone.

After more than five years here, it amazes me, still, the devastating effects the winter months have on me and my ability to function as a human being. Every year, no matter how well I think I'm prepared, I always find myself slipping back into this lethargic existence that leaves me but a mere shell of the person which I normally am. This year has been an exceptionally difficult one, despite the fact that the winter was relatively mild for Dutch standards, perhaps because I spent last winter in Granada and quickly became accustomed to the climate standard there, which by comparison, is like night and day. In any case, the onset of spring couldn't arrive soon enough, as far as I'm concerned, and in just two short weeks, I already feel a thousand times more active, social, and alive in general.

The week before last I left The Hague again to spend five lovely days with G in Munich. I arrived early on Friday morning and pranced through the airport to the arrivals hall to find him there waiting for me with a beautiful smile and a long-stemmed red rose wrapped in pink paper. We caught the train back into the city and spent a few hours in his apartment, then headed to a little Indian restaurant around the corner for lunch before he jetted off for a meeting with his supervisor. I spent the rest of my afternoon exploring the city and marveling at the way in which the sun and beautiful blue sky overhead seemed to transform the city into a completely different place than it had seemed during my first visit. My first night back with G was intoxicating, beautiful, and laced with just a tinge of awkwardness as we both became reaccustomed to one another, a feeling that I savored until it dissipated in the early morning hours and was replaced by an overwhelming sense of comfort, familiarity and content.

We woke up rather early and forced ourselves to abandon the sheets curled at our feet to catch a train to Tegernsee, a village about an hour south of Munich, where we walked along the bank of the lake, to Rottach-Egern, the place where Bob Marley apparently spent the last months of his life. Armed with towels , a picnic lunch and a decent number of his tracks, we climbed up a hill overlooking the lake to spend a few hours paying tribute as we sat, talked, and enjoyed the breathtaking tranquility of our surroundings. When the sun began to dip below the mountains on the east bank, we headed back toward Tegernsee to meet with Tim (a friend of G's) and his girlfriend, Karoline for a drink. We ended up staying with them until the last train, with promises we'd return the next morning to accompany them on a hike into the mountains and spend a night in one of the cabins there (which are quite basic, but notoriously difficult to acquire). The next day, however, we decided that we'd both rather stay in the city and, instead, spent the morning on a free tour of the center given by an awesome Canadian guy with a mustache à la Salvador Dali.

We got to the Marienplatz a little before noon and spent the next two hours on the tour before heading back to the starting point for a typical Bavarian breakfast of weißwurst and beer and continuing on to one of the the art museums in the city center. Every moment that went by made me feel more and more attached the the city I was experiencing somehow, as though I was not only passing a few hours in her streets, but taking in the sights, smells, and emotions I felt and creating a memory in my heart and mind that would last forever. It's funny how a city can do that to you, can make you feel, even momentarily, that your life becomes intertwined with hers, that you can become completely lost in her web of history and mystery and want to savor that moment until it simply isn't there anymore, and you've somehow managed to become just as much a part of her as the very things that made you fall in love with her in the first place.

On our last entire day together, G and I went to the Englischer Garten to play catch, take pictures, and spend a few hours in the sun before heading to a training session at his Muay Thai school (an incredibly sweaty and exhausting hour-long class which I absolutely loved), then returned home to shower, change, have dinner and go out with two of his rugby friends for some pool. As fun as the evening was, however, I was filled with a growing sentiment of sadness, knowing that the next day would be my last, and that I would have to return to The Hague, which is about as far removed from the tranquility and surreality of my second visit to Munich as it gets. The next morning was a blur of a lazy awakening, slightly rushed breakfast and a packing session in which few words were exchanged. By the time we arrived at the airport I'd convinced myself I'd get through our goodbye without crying, yet while standing at the security check before my gate, still had to force myself to hold it together and not succumb to the tears which were threatening to spill down my cheeks, to the words, so delicate, which were forming on my lips. Once inside the plane, I spent the next hour trying desperately to distract myself, a task which proved easier than I'd hoped because of the beautiful view of my last Bavarian sunset which I was treated to through the window at my side. A perfect ending to a perfect visit.

Since I've been back, I've spent two nights at Melati's house in Delft, an evening out on the town with a colleague of mine from Cape Verde, a 6-hour long afternoon with a group of friends from uni at a coffeeshop in the city centre, and a day of cappuccino and chit-chat with Kasia. In the coming week, I have a trial lesson at a Muay Thai school here in The Hague, a load of work nights and essays to write for uni, and lunch with a friend whom I haven't seen in ages. In stark contrast to the winter months, the days are getting longer, yet still feel much too short to cram everything into them that I'd like to. I simply love how this time of year brings about so many changes, such a clear and obvious shift of emotions and undeniable boost of energy. Spring is on its way. And I can't think of a better time for it to arrive, nor a better shift in mood to greet it.

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