Sunday, October 25, 2009

first time (iii)

june 16, 1990. a day to remember.

summertime in germany; me, my brothers, and maybe a few other people were in the backyard, a good two weeks after the harpstedt weekend. it was a saturday afternoon. on sunday, the pathfinders would meet at home. at my place. with jana.

it had been exactly eleven weeks since i had left a little note in her jacket, saying “ich hab dich gern” (i “like you” like you), and signed by “irgendwer” (someone). i was in the best of moods. my mother calls. “telephone, raphael”. yes, the raphael from an earlier series. i went inside and picked up the phone downstairs, when i hear something quite unexpected on the other side of the line. “hello, here is jana.” silence. and even before i could think of the magnitude of the fact that jana was calling me, again, she had hung up – after a quick “ich hab dich auch gern”.

it almost made me feel dizzy. my wildest hopes, dreams, interpretations, observations. they were confirmed by one simple and direct sentence. for the first time in my life, someone i liked had openly declared that they liked me. it was kind of understood with michaela in 1986, but confirmation only came decades later. here it seemed quite clear. it was to be understood that what i felt for her, she had started to feel for me. she used the exact same words. there was no doubt about the interpretation.

i was so excited that i didn’t even stop to think about why she might have called me to say that, or why my mother was under the impression that raphael was on the phone. i just ceased the moment and the day. june 16 became a historical date for me.

june 17, next post.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

first time (ii)

i couldn’t think or react. i just said “yes”, and then she asked me: “did you put a note in my jacket yesterday?”. i didn’t deny it. she then responded: “ok, just wanted to confirm.” and hung up.

i think this was my first time in what i perceived to be the “real world”. for years and years, i had loved my imaginary world, kept secret from anyone else. my music, my thoughts and feelings, and my personal queen. for the first time ever, it seemed that a “queen” had taken notice not only of my existence, but also of my interest. and this queen was reigning for exactly one day. what now?

nothing. it would be a few weeks until i would see her again. i went to a different church, so we would see each other only at the “pathfinders”, equivalent to scouts.

that day was coming, and i was very curious and a little nervous about how it would be. as always at the time, i chose the passive approach; see, how she dealt with the idea, now that i assumed she knew i liked her. and when the day came, i did had a very uneasy feeling in my stomach. there was quite a bit of unspoken tension in the air, not negative at all. it was a rainy spring day, she was using that same (and now “famous”) pink and blue jacket. our eyes locked a few times, for spilt seconds – but sometimes it seemed like a long time. i went home later with a quiet grin on my face. she didn’t seem to be uncomfortable with the idea, she didn’t seem to reject me – this was a major victory for me. there seemed a chance that, with time, we could even get to know each other. i still had no idea about what was going on in her mind, but it seemed quite clear that there were no negative feelings towards me.

it went like that for another month. jana and me wouldn’t talk at all, but she was always the lone center of my attention whenever we were in the same space. i was becoming more and more friends with a few other people of the pathfinders. bärchen, which is how we called the very cute christiane boettge, was known to me for quite some time, and we were becoming better friends that year; on the other hand, she was jana’s best friend at the time, and i had even thought that she might have informed jana about the note i’d left in her jacket. it seemed to be that bärchen might be an ally in the whole jana story, but this is not why we became friends. i really do think that we enjoyed each other’s presence and friendship. marco and stefan zücker, two brothers who had also recently arrived from east germany, were entering my life, too.

finally, it was time for our group to go to a long weekend in tents, in harpstedt. this was a yearly event, quite anticipated by me and most pathfinders, where more than 150 pre-teens and teens (up to 15 years) where together for some social and spiritual quality time. it was my fourth time there, so i was kind of a veteran, compared mostly to the trio marco, stefan and jana, who were going for the first time. this was the most time we were to spend in the same place, so far. and i was excited.

the weekend was a little strange. i was feeling really good, confident. i was seeing many friends again, and it seemed to be the bst harpstedt long weekend ever. friday evening, jana and me set almost exactly opposite to each other in quite a big room. with this bigger distance than normally as kind of a protection shield, our eyes locked more often than ever before. and i felt really secure, because it seemed as if there was some kind of a secret bond between us, almost as if my secret world had begun being extended to the girl i was falling more in love with by the minute.

on saturday, the good feeling went away. i had a little bit of a allergic reaction with my eyes and had to abandon the afternoon activity, going back to camp. sitting on some stairs, i kept my eyes closed, and for some it might have seemed that i was crying. i only noticed that when jana’s younger sister, andrea, passed by and said: “thinking of my sister?”. wow, that was a real blow, for so many reasons. first of all, it seemed that it wasn’t such a secret at all. secondly, why did she say that, even with this kind of diminishing tone? was i totally mistaken after all, was i a joke, after all? and now that she thought i was crying, what would she tell her older sister? that whole confident and peaceful feeling from less than 24 hours before, that was totally gone.

nothing new on sunday, but i was worried, more than ever, about what was going on in jana’s mind. what was she thinking of me? what was she maybe even expecting? these questions were bothering me.

i think it was the last day, the monday. beginning of june, another great summer day. an activity in the gym, a game of survival. jana was out quite soon and sat in a private place. i stayed in the game for quite a long time, and everytime i passed by where she was, we looked at each other. the shyness that we both seemed to have, the looking without the other noticing, it had seemingly gone away for these minutes. so much so, that i can swear i saw tears in her eyes; yes, tears, it seemed quite clear. i didn’t even have time to think about why she could have been so sad that day, but i was deeply moved by it – and forgot all about my sorrows and insecurities about her. at that time, i felt even more than being in love – a felt actual love, empathy. and the will to do something, help, i don’t know. what could i do?

everytime i passed by her that end of morning, i felt a stronger bond than ever before. and be it my imagination or not, i really believed that she felt it, too. at one point, there was even a smile. i’d never seen a girl smile at me, with tears in her eyes. it’s truly heartbreaking.

if i think of memorable weekends in my life, this is still one of them.

to be continued.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

first time

a couple of weeks ago, i received a message in the german “facebook” called “studivz”. a woman called jana left a rather common scrap on my page, asking me (and all her other friends, i imagine) to leave a memory i have about her on her page. that’s when i decided that this next post was going to be dedicated to her, and my recollections of her. after all, as you will see, it is a major memory in my life.

it was the beginning of 1990. a new era for the world, with the fall of communism and the berlin wall, only a few months ago. and it was a new era for me, too. at age 12, i had been in love a few times already. sarah dumber, still in england, then five years earlier. in germany, first michaela (summer love), then the golden three: yvonne dobert, birte brettschneider and, currently (at the time), isabel willkommen. the latter had been on the “throne” for the longest amount of time. since september 1988. and march 1990 was coming to an end.

our church had organized a bible week for kids, starting march 24. i was starting to get fed up with being in love with isabel. i think i was getting fed up with always falling in love with these girls i didn’t even knew. i mean, if i exchanged more than a sentence with any of the three “golden girls” who dominated my “love life” since 1986, it would have been a miracle. i didn’t know who plato was yet, but his “love-style” seemed to be fitting for me. but i had enough. i made a conscious decision to try to find someone knew, someone who i could actually come closer to, maybe even someone with whom i could slowly build up some sort of relationship. and this week could be a good opportunity to see what’s around, since i was also looking for someone who had a similar faith as i did.

i noticed her right away, almost in midst of these thoughts. this very white girl, seemingly vivid, new in town, very blond. she quickly made friends with someone i knew (bärchen), but i’d never seen her before. soon i was made aware that she and her family were coming from eastern germany, as many people were at the time. and she came to stay. this all started to sound very interesting. and she herself seemed to be quite unique. it didn’t take long to chase isabel away from my dreams, where the brunette had been present for not far from 2 years. jana deutsch was officially the number one on march 31, a saturday. and even more, i leaped into action, obsessed by the idea of make my intentions clear. or at least my admiration –in secret. i decided to write her a little anonymous note and put it into a pocket of her already very legendary blue and pink jacket.

the very next day (yes, april fool’s day), the phone rang during our family worship time. we never pick up at that time, but for some reason, i did. i don’t know, i was just feeling so good about myself, finally doing something. still figuring out what my next step would be before i, one day, would eventually reveal my secret identity. i still had my own private world that no one knew about, and i felt really good about it. and i picked up that phone with no second thoughts. “marcio bei witzig”, i said, as usual. “jana deutsch here”, i hear. and time seemed to stop.

to be continued.