“(Heavy sigh) Now I can sink thraight.”
-my gf after our huge hangover breakfast
Sometimes, don’t laugh, I’ll stop and take notice of the color or the shape of something I usually take for granted—beige paint on a wall, the nicks in wood flooring—and realize where I am. Existentially speaking; where I am. Yeah. Strange, huh? Right now I’m sitting in a one-bedroom apartment in Mainz, Germany that I share with my gf; well, for the next five days. Mainz is 30 minutes north of where my father’s ancestors married, had children, and eventually left Germany for America over 120 years ago. And here I am. Sitting on a purple, plush IKEA couch that lays flat, but last night was upright so that it could make more room for the eleven people gathering in this little apartment for a night of hamburgers, french fries, and Jack and Coke’s.
The guests arrived promptly around 7:00pm. At 6:53pm, I was out getting last-minute-tomatoes for our 2-dozen hamburgers were were making that night for the eight Germans, one Croatian, one Pole, and, me, the lone American, when I ran into a few of the attendees out buying bottles of wine before their arrival. I quickly headed them off and made it up stairs in time to check on the french fries. The buzzer rang just as I stepped inside. My gf was nervous, so I stayed out of her way and entertained the guests while she and a German girlfriend or two of hers cooked. The night went well. I kept the guests, who are all mutual acquaintances, very entertained with stories and anecdotes that I delivered with a big, healthy American smile (I may even have a German man date tomorrow night). At one point during a conversation where I fell into a nice rhythm of my colloquial English, the German girl I was speaking to said with the nicest smile and a healthy, glowing blush, “I don’t understand what you are saying, so I will just sit here and eat my cake.” I almost fell off the couch laughing! Those Germans. They really do not mess around.
And then the whiskey went dry. One bottle of the finest Jack Daniel’s our local REWE has to offer down, and this same girl’s bf offered to buy another. And so he did. This is possibly more whiskey then that little store has sold in a year. After all the couples left, three guests stayed far beyond what my gf determined, with a subtlety notable in the female of our species, was a good hour to still be welcomed in her apartment. They got the hint, and eventually left my gf and I alone to argue over why my being completely hammered left me heedless to her delicate intimations. But the best part about having a little row is making up: laughing how foolish you were as you piece together the night, shaking your head while thinking about a missed chance for the right phrase or a slightly misunderstood statement.
So, today we are spending the day hungover; sleeping, cleaning, laughing about last night, and eating a humongous breakfast consisting of OJ, lots of water, aspirin, bacon, meatballs, scrambled eggs, bread and Bresso (if you don’t know what Bresso is, seriously, you should. It’s simply amazing). You see, hangovers have a way of causing me to reflect more than usual. And I am so happy to have this life.
It takes a lot for me to write that statement. Where I grew up, the Midwest, we don’t go around telling people how happy we are. That is considered bragging. We talk about experiences as though they are moments to get through; moments that happened to us, but they don’t affect our character or redetermine our lives. Are concerns are pragmatic not romantic, practical not sentimental. Being unhappy with some aspect of our lives is an essentially sympathetic role of our Midwestern character. It’s like a warm hug, or a way of knowing someone is from the same region. Back there, in my Midwest States, we qualify our happiness. We don’t often simply say: I am happy. Period. Punkt. Full stop. There is always something. Always a thorn. Always an I’m happy, but…
But, I’m not happy, but… I’m happy. And I like that. Full stop.