And so the days flow by, and all too often I forget to record the funny incidents that make up my life here in Southern Germany. Like the old woman on my way home from the market this morning who stopped me and asked how my husband was feeling. “We haven’t seen him in such a long time.” she said.
What, ‘we haven’t seen him’? You were looking for him? For us? Um hummm. This conversation is, of course, tantamount to admitting what we already suspected (knew), that they watch us from their windows, over their coffee cups in the shopping center, from the third checkout line on the left. That they have always watched us. That they know we exist. But this morning she made it official.
The Swabian culture confounds me. I shop every Saturday at the farmer’s market; at the same vendors. I am friendly and polite. In the space of a mere 6.23 years, (that is roughly 322 weeks) Maria at the cheese wagon acknowledges that, because she might have seen me shop there before, she wanted to tell me that her granddaughter’s Kindergarten is having a play. Another three years pass and one sunny morning Fr. Elster (also at the cheese wagon) asks me my name. “I’m IN!” I holler when I get home. Shortly after that, in my eleventh year of shopping weekly at the Markt, the wife of the farmer who grows my veggies hits it off with my Mom. And so it goes, it’s like living in Brigadoon.
As for my encounter this morning with the lady who lives in the house at the curve on the way to the market, I wondered when it might come - she has been friendly-like-she-might-speak-to-me-eventually now for about 4 years. Sitting on my little motorized shopping cart in the sun, I explained that it was still early and my hubby, a notorious late-sleeper, was perfectly happy for me to sally forth out into the world on a perfect Autumn morning if I’d please bring him a laugencroissant for breakfast, some feta for lunch, and wake him when I got home. “I think all this getting up early, is just a bit too much for him.” I confided.
She smiled at me warmly, her eyes glowing, she leaned toward me pulling a bit on her shopper and confessed in nearly a whisper, “Sometimes, it is a bit too much for us too.” Then, still smiling she nods her head “Auf wiedersehen” and pulls her shopping bag down her driveway.
We’re still another 20 years from being friends, and I doubt one or the other of us will make it all that way, but if we do, I’ll be sure to report it here.