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Excuses to stay in

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

I googled a bunch of Berlin clubs Sunday morning and felt entirely overwhelmed. I used "cleaning my apartment" as an excuse to not leave my house; I skipped the big antique market on the other side of town because it was below 40 degrees, and I didn't feel like hopping a bunch of crowded trains and browsing in the cloudy cold.


I decided to call Dad, who told me about his life in the Philippines; out his window I saw the orange and pink sunset and silhouetted palm trees.


I spent the rest of the unexpectedly sunny afternoon doing random Illustrator things, packing for the move Monday and hearing kids scream on the playground outside, probably the same ones that shriek and storm around in the apartment above mine. Sometimes they're so heavy it sounds like bowling balls rolling around.


 

On Sunday evening I read almost the first chapter of the book Between the World and Me, a title that came up when I researched recommended memoirs. I don't do well with long chapters, especially when they're heavy, which is the problem with history: Cliffnotes are more comfortable. Last week, I read This Story Will Change. That one was about marriage, this other about race, both about reclaiming autonomy.


 

Johannesstift; the hospital is straight, left

After I walked in drizzle to the hospital on Saturday afternoon, Opa frowned and tried to warm my cold hands with his own; I convinced him I owned gloves. He offered me food and finally I took a few skinless apple slices that Oma insisted hadn't been touched. When he grabbed the bag later to eat the single one left, I wished I wouldn't have eaten so many; it felt like taking food from someone who's starving. I hear every single time I go there that Opa doesn't eat enough and leaves half his food on the plate. I have no movement here, Opa retorts to Oma's meckering: man Opa du muss etwas essen!


When I told him what I really wanted was to eat Spargel, Oma said it's not quite the season yet and in the stores they're probably so expensive. Und wat soll dat denn?! Opa puffed. You're one to talk, Oma remarked, you spent your life counting pennies and now you say that! Opa smiled at me and said, What else do we have money for?


 

I FaceTimed Danielle in and Oma marveled at all the things we can do with the phone, how quickly we can research things, how quickly we text. She said she's afraid of typing, what if she hits the wrong combination of buttons and all of a sudden a Teufel springs forth? She laughed for a while; she does this thing where she covers her mouth with her hand as her face turns red and she rocks forward, and it takes her a moment to come back down from her wild and playful imagination.


 

On Saturday I told Danielle that Opa keeps talking about wanting to go home, and he looked over and said, let's go on vacation, where should we all go on vacation together? He said he gives himself three, four more days, and then he'll be out of the hospital. His eyes were closed as he smirked.



When I left, he held both my hands, still cold, and said herzlichen Dank für deinen Besuch. And then he said it again: think about where you want to go. He dreamt about the sea the other night, how he wants to go back. Mom had said the same thing, too: take me to the ocean. It's always at the end when you desperately need more time.



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