Thursday, December 22, 2016

Seeing Volker in Goettingen, Germany

The Gänseliesel (The Goose Maiden)
Von Goenttingen, Germany
Volker, Tom, and I drink spiced wine from the Goettingen, Christmas Markets. We take a seat at a stall. The Christmas Markets is a collection of all these craft and food and drink shops that open in German city centers. Around Christmas time, friends and family come to the markets together to eat and drink. I haven't seen Volker in four years.

I tell Tom, Volker's friend, "Do you remember when you told me to call Volker a big and stinky vagina?"

Volker says, "Tom would say something like that."

Tom starts laughing. "I remember. When we were hiking the Harz Forest."

"Ja," I say.

Seven years ago, Volker and his friends and I all did a hike in The Harz Forest. In total, the hike was 66 miles (100 kms), and we did it in three days. Two people, including Volker, went home early, because of the amount of walking we had to do each day. Another guy named Marcus, an East German, also didn't finish the trek. In the end, only three of us finished it: Tom, Nico, and me.

All in all, I was just there to spend time with Volker. I met Volker in my days when I lived and worked in New Zealand. I've known him now for over 8 years. When I think about that, I realize how fast time flies.

Volker was born and raised in Goettingen, a small university city. Volker brags to me, every time I see him, that Goettingen has produced the most number of Nobel Laureates in Germany.

It's a charming and small city. At the center of the city is a sculptor of a girl, holding two geese. She's called the Gänseliesel, the goose maiden. The tradition is that when a doctorate candidate receives his or her doctorate, he or she kisses the goose maiden and gives her a flower.

Well, after receiving my juris doctorate at UCLA, I came back to Goettingen and kissed the goose maiden and gave her her flower. So, I followed the tradition. She's supposed to be the most kissed girl on earth.

In Goettingen, Volker took me to the sauna, the Hannover Christmas Market, the Goettingen Christmas Market, and to his parents' home - where we all chatted. We also ran in the forest for about forty minutes in the sleet. It was cold. And it made me feel like I was training for some boxing match.

I was much slower than Volker in the run, because I was just about finished recovering from a cold. I coughed up a lot of mucus. I thought the run was good for me, though, because it seemed to clear out my lungs and my nose.

Ludo gave the cold to me in London. And Ludo got it from his sister Eleonara. And Eleonara got it from her flatmate Benedicta. And I think I may have given it to Volker's partner, Julia. (I wonder if this is how the Black Plague spread in Europe.)

So, I wasn't too happy when Volker told everyone he beat me on the run. I just said, "I had a cold," which I did have.

It was interesting catching up with Volker. I saw snapshots of his life then, now, and perhaps what will be. I wonder if he noticed the same about me.

PS: Thanks to all those who asked about if I was safe in Berlin; I left a few days before the attack on the Christmas Market there. 

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