Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Monday, January 29, 2007

ghosts of americans

at nine am sunday morning, the wiesbaden marketplace was as empty as an apocalyptic movie. wide-eyed pigeons scampered through empty streets, and all the shops were closed and dark and bits of trash and paper filled the sidewalks like standing in a stadium an hour after the home team lost.

i walked around a bit, went to church, found a starbucks open and serving coffee to the people that stumbled in from the empty streets and wouldn't leave.

i took my coffee to the second floor so i could work in peace. i sat down. the only other people there were older americans talking about computers, massages, and the intricacies of their very personal medical conditions.

after they floated away into the empty streets - i looked out the window and didn't see them walking away; they just disappeared like they had never been there at all - after that this young woman comes in with an emptiness in her eyes that can only be filled with caffiene.

we talk for a moment because she notices that i'm an american. she says she's from dallas. so am i. she says she's from bedford, a suburb. i'm from the town next door. she tells me her high school and i tell her mine and we both probably remember a football game somewhere on a sweltering early autumn where our marching bands stared each other down - i used to play tuba, and she's a professional french horn player - and of all the cafes in all the world to wash ashore, we've both drifted into here.

an american cafe in germany, full of americans that appeared bleary-eyed and talkative from empty streets.

i figure we turned into pigeons when we stepped outside. big, scared eyes and hooked noses and scampering around this foreign city like fragile tourists.

anyway, that's what happened yesterday.

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