Saturday, June 26, 2010

You've Got To Put On That Party Dress

You could almost feel the sensation that it was more than coincidence that made Anne Heisig walk down Schillerstrasse that night. And it almost seems like there was something more than simple musical interest that made her stop and listen to us. And there was must have been something more than courage that made her cross the street and begin one of the best friendships I’ve ever had.

It’s almost hard to fathom that I’ve known this girl for less time than items still in the news as “current events.” And it feels like the things she’s showed me – India Arie, a TV program out of the DDR known as “Sandmann,” a significant appreciation for Tracey Chapman – are all things that I’ve liked for all my life.

After I would finish my homework in the afternoon, I’d go back to the bench at which we first met, and we’d use whatever ragtag assortment of instruments we could throw together to have as much fun as possible for the next 6-8 hours. In total, we used three different guitars, three different harmonicas and a violin. We performed on Schillerstrasse, at Fete de la Musique, at Blaue Nacht, on Windischenstrasse, and in front of as many bars and restaurants as was allowed.

The songs that belonged to us were Mary Jane's Last Dance by Tom Petty and Gimme One Reason and Revolution by Tracey Chapman. Over the course of less than a week, we grew attached to those songs and just the simple act of playing whatever came to mind for hours at a time.

Of course, after playing music and making whatever meager money we could, it would be time to explore Weimar's crazy nightlife, ranging from smokey hole-in-the-wall bars full of college students to smokey hole-in-the-wall bars full of young adults. Of course, there was always also my favorite activity of spending hours talking to Anne and her friends Maria and Stefanie until the sun began to come up at 3 in the morning and we'd all walk home.

Or last night, when we all went to a slightly less smokey salsa club and Anne taught me to dance salsa until the sun came up at 3 in the morning.

Today was the last day I might ever see Anne Heisig. I met her at our bench on Schillerstrasse. We played our songs and didn't make any money, but it didn't matter. Anne was leaving for France today and I for Dresden. In our last two hours, we practiced our tradition of getting Doeners, then we walked all the way to the Weimar Hauptbahnhof (main train station). I had dozens of opportunities along the way to take the bus back toward Ehringsdorf and get packed, but every second I spent would never be able to be spent again.

Strange - Weeks ago, when I was worried about leaving for Germany, I had a dream in which I met a girl. It was frantic- I was running from a gang or something at the time for some reason, but she started running too. After a long time of talking while flat-out sprinting (isn't it great how you don't get exhausted in dreams?), I asked her what her name was.

"Hannah heiss ich."

That phrase (Hannah is my name) sounds almost exactly like the name Anne Heisig pronounced in German.

I was relieved when I missed my bus back from the Weimar Hbh. I had another 15 minutes to see Anne off. I put my bag down, took her hands, and hugged her. She told me she'd think of me whenever she hears a harmonica. She hugged me tighter. I kissed her on the cheek. We came out of the hug and I gave her the flower. She took my hands and I looked into her light blue eyes, and with a smile and sort of a half-wink, through tearing eyes, she said "Mach's gut."

Last week, I found my heart on a bench on Schillerstrasse. But this morning, I watched it leave on a train for France. As I sit on the train to Dresden, writing this, I can almost feel specifically the fact that she took these tracks just hours before. But right now, I'm looking forward to getting a guitar in Munich and playing those songs again. Anne may have taken a little of my heart, but she let me keep my soul.

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