Last night I finally met Gaetano, the German who was letting me stay in his flat while he was out of town. He took me to a quiet locals beer garden. He told me the story of his love affair with Tessa, his American girlfriend, and I told him the story of my love affair with Germany. Then it seemed like we wandered into real German conversational territory: politics. We talked about the refugees a bit, and then Gaeo said that he felt about America the way I do about Germany. He said he’s not done with the US, and wants to return, he says it’s a land of incredible possibility for success, and I can’t disagree. We each finished our liters of beer, and moved on to the next place. Their happy hour started at 7 pm, and all cocktails where 5.50. I had too many. Sam, an ex-pat from America, joined us and we just shot the shit, until I had to get on the u-bahn and go home. I was pretty lit up. I nearly fell over when the subway train took off, and when I got to my stop, I had a 15 minute walk ahead of me, so I called a friend in Austin, and he gave me the lowdown on what’s been going on. I was happy to talk with him, and a miss them all terribly, but it doesn’t make my heart sad. Not yet anyway. I’m sure that will come.
So, I feel asleep in Mickaël’s apartment. He’s sleeping at his girlfriends, and so I am here in this big house in the suburbs of Munich. There’s 5 roommates here total. The house is weird an amazing. Mickey Mouse has been painted on a wall in the basement, the bathroom has a weird Star Wars theme, but the house isn’t fratty. These are all young professionals that have real income, it seems. Yet, they are living like this. I get the impression that this is because it just doesn’t make sense to live on your own, they’ll get girlfriend and boyfriends and then move on, but in the mean time, they live together, and aren’t really friends, but co-habitants, they’ll have a beer, but it’s not like they’re all pals.
A quick side note, when Mickaël was giving me the tour he showed me the “toilet” and the “bathroom” two separate rooms. The bathroom has only the shower and a sink in it. But to me, bathroom means toilet. So he’s giving me the tour, and he says, that down stairs is the bathroom, but it’s no the masterpiece of the house, and I thought I’d be funny. So I said, “that’s alright, cause that’s where I make my masterpiece.” I thought I’d just squeezed out a poop joke that would bring cultures together. Mickaël looked confused, and showed me the pantry.
So I wake up in his room legitimately hung over. Tummy rumbling, room rocking, head aching, hung over. I lay there, do my German lessons, and dread the fact that I agreed to go climbing with Antonio, an Italian who I’ve never met, but I know through Mickaël. We are meeting at the Starnbergersee, which is 20km outside of Munich. I get my shit together enough to have a cup of coffee and a bagel at the train station and I get my bike and hit the streets. Now, I’ve not really ever been where I’m going, I’m not sure what it’s like to get there, it’s Sunday, I have no spare tires or pump. I’ve got a bottle of water, a falafel wrap, and my climbing gear. So I tell the apple watch to take me where I’m going and I follow it’s directions. I wind through the suburbs of Munich, to the edge of town, past town, into a forest, and all the while I’m on a gorgeous, wide open, bike path. There’s tons of cyclists out. An old man with snorkeling gear in the basket of his bike, a woman pulling a bike trailer with 2 cats in it, and, oh my god, Road Cyclist. Serious dudes on serious bikes with serious muscles. I couldn’t keep up on my city bike, but I was so happy and so jealous to see them.
Finally I made it to Starnberg and biked along the crowded beaches to the almost deserted climbing area. Antonio wasn’t there, but there was a lone German guy just sitting there with a bunch of climbing gear, so we chatted about climbing in German. I asked if this was the only climbing area, and about Munich climbing in general, and eventually, when it was clear how late Antonio was going to be I said “Wir beiden warten für Freunde. Swollen wir Klettern?” We are both waiting for friends, should we climb? And so we did, he would lead, and I would ask what the names for things in German were. Stefan was a good climbing partner and he never gave any indication that his English was even existent. Then Antonio showed up, he’s a totally cool climber from Italy. Sardinia, specifically, which he was happy to tell me was the best climbing anywhere. So the three of us spent a few hours, all encouraging each other in our native languages. Antonio said he’s lazy, because he’s been in Munich for a year and hasn’t even really tried to learn German. Stefan was stoic and thoughtful, he has a girlfriend in Slovenia that he drives 6 hours for a few times a month. He says she is worth it.
Once we were exhausted we went for a beer (we all had 2) and a massive rain storm blew in. Antonio and I had ridden our bikes in and we were 5 km from the nearest train station, but Antonio didn’t mind, so neither did I. We rode back and parted ways at the train station. I got back to Mickaël’s and took a hot shower, and now I feel like I’ve touched a little bit of what regular Munich life is like, and I really like it. Nothing about how I spent my day was particularly touristy, and it relied an local knowledge and interaction with locals.
I was afraid I’d get trapped by the city and not figure out how to pedal out of it, I was concerned I wouldn’t have any friends, and I was worried that climbing and cycling might not survive the transition to Germany, but a day like today has proved that seriously wrong.
and considering that every connection I’ve made here so far has been through rock climbing, thank god for that.
Tomorrow I get a bank account: one more piece of the puzzle in place.