Saturday morning

It is Saturday morning. I am sitting at my desk, having a coffee,checking my mail, when a ghost from the past pops up. A message on “Stayfriends”,  just a “hi, saw-your-profile-and-thought-I get-in-touch” message. At first I don’t have a clue who that person could be, after all, it is about  forty years ago, that we knew each other. But slowly there are memories coming up of the time around 1973/1975 when I was a teenager in a then small town called Lüneburg.

At that time we had to attend school on Saturdays. Usually we had lessons from 08:00 – 11.30 am.

As soon as school was finished everybody would try to get to the town center as quickly as possible. Some of the boys had small mopeds, looking like motorbikes, usually Kreidlers or Zündapps. If one of us girls could get a ride into town on one of those, we felt really tough. Once, I remember, one of the boys took me and myfriend Sabine onto his bike. None of us wore helmets of course and how we all fitted onto those tiny machines  is a riddle to me up  today. It remember wearing my favorite sweater that day, bright green, tight and sliding up showing my bellybutton when moving,

Once we got into town we would stroll along the pedestrian zone checking out who else was hanging out. Most of the time we all ended up in a pub called “Illert”.It doesn’t exist anymore.

Coming into “Illerts”  there was a long bar with some tables across from it. In the back was a second, larger room, and here the kids from my school gathered. Here I drank my first beer and had my first cigarette. I was thirteen then and felt very grown-up.

My friends and I  t hoped to catch a glimpse at the boys we had a crush on, praying to be noticed and maybe, just maybe be invited to one of their partys. There was always a party somewhere on Saturday night and not being invited anywhere was a disaster.

At that time it was fashionable to have a party-room in the cellar. Some parents didn’t have one, and  in that case we  just put some posters on the wall, mattresses on the floor, and a tape recorder on a table.  The lights were low.

Each party had the same procedure: about 15 to 20 kids standing around, checking who was there, circling around each other, making eye contact. The music fast, the first ones dancing by themselves, slowly being joined by others until couples were forming. After some time the music moved from “Crocodile Rock” to something slower until finally couples were clinging to each other, swaying to the music, the lights as low as possible.   There were always more boys than girls and the ones not finding someone would find comfort in the “Schnaps” they had smuggled in.

You could be sure that at this stage of the party a father or mother would show up, turn on the lights and send us home. We didn’t mind, as we were young and not ready to take things any further.

It was at one of these parties I had my very first kiss. His name was Klaus and he was not the one I had a crush on. I had almost forgotten this party, until today, when his message popped up. Will I answer him? Yes, why not. He is part of my history, and I am curious how his life developed. After all, for about a week we were going out with each other when I was thirteen.

View onto the town I grew up in
View onto the town I grew up in
This is the kind of bike we felt was really tough then.
This is the kind of bike we felt was really tough then.

Back to school

There is one German institution I love: the “Volkshochschulen”. They are registered societies for adult education and they offer a wide range of (evening) classes. They do not cost much and anybody can join in. Especially int the country side they offer a possibility to be social and try out new things. In a small place like Hohenlockstedt you will find an interesting curriculum, featuring languages, f. ex. English and Danish, or you can learn all about Mexican cooking, sewing, knitting and playing the guitar. Alternatively  you can try out acrylic or oil painting,  learn to relax with Qi Gong or you can join a group going regularly by bus to the theaters in Hamburg. It is also possible to gain certificates, for example in computer skills.

Some years ago I took a Norwegian class at the Volkshochschule in Hamburg but had to give it up as the times collided with my work hours. When I noticed that there is a Norwegian class taking place on Sunday mornings and  just a few kilometers from here, I decided straight away to give it a try.  So this morning I got up exceptionally early, walked the dog and set out to go to school. Volkshochschule almost always take place in  local schools and I felt as if I had travelled back in time, when I saw children’s drawings  decorating the walls and a forgotten anorak hanging on the coat rack.

Our teacher greeted us with a big smile  and after a brief greeting she started, firing away questions at us in Norwegian,checking our knowledge. I liked her straight away, and I love her teaching methods.  She made us talk with each other all the time and let us do a lot of  role-plays, I got paired up with Anne and Marlene and soon found  myself exchanging views of what I like to do in my free time. Vocabularies kept popping back into my mind and time was  flying. Three hours passed very quickly, and when we were finished for the day, I felt happy. I love learning and if I didn’t have to work I would spent my days reading and going to classes. But that’s another topic.

We are 8 students and the other ones have been learning together for about one and a half years. At 54 I am almost the youngest in class. Marlene, who is 75, is the most advanced learner with a beautiful pronunciation. She is also studying English on Mondays, because, as she was quick to mention, she likes going on a lot of holidays all over the world. She is very proud of her son who is working in Japan. Today she mentioned at least three times that he gave her an iPad for Christmas and when I asked her (in Norwegian of course) whether her grandchildren like playing football she subtly let me know that they do not engage in such mundane sports. Still, it is fun to study with her as she is quick to learn and not afraid to talk.

When I asked Anna why she is learning Norwegian, she answered that she is learning  languages to train her brain, and she too is going to English classes. She has just come back from Colorado, where she visited family.  It seems that each woman in class either has a son, daughter or grandchild living or working abroad and I could sense that there is a little bit of competition going on, about whose children are the most successful. The three men in our class were quiet, only talking when being asked and not answering with more words than necessary. I bet they will get livelier the moment we start talking about fishing and camping. Anyway, I am very much looking forward to get to know this group a bit better, after all, going to school, also as a grown-up is about being social just as much as about learning, isn’t it?