Monday, September 29, 2008

Munich 3.6.1998: Belle Époque Houses, Rucola Gardens

In Munich. We arrived yesterday afternoon and spent a pleasant evening with Maria R. and her family (husband B. and son C.). They live in a suburb southwest of Munich called Gräfelfing.

After coffee and cake on their balcony overlooking the garden—spent lilac blossoms, pine trees, starlings—we took a walk to shop in the fine hot afternoon. Passed an interesting house that Maria said is a good example of Belle Époque, with various carved and vaguely astrological symbols on its stucco walls. It had that small balcony under the gables one sees on many Bavarian houses, and, at the corner of the house below the roof, a Madonna and child, very faded and weather-beaten. The whole house was in poor repair, with the balcony spindles decaying, and many having fallen off.

Many houses we passed were in pastel colors—green, pinks, beiges—with gaily painted religious medallions on them—St. Christopher, the Madonna, St. Joseph. Another indicator of Bavaria: last night we went with Maria and Berndt to water the garden of some friends of theirs, and when we arrived, an elderly lady was watering her garden next door. Maria greeted her, Grüss Gott, and she responded in kind.

The garden was interesting: an assortment of potted plants (oleander, camellia, yucca, dahlias), and herbs and salad greens planted in flats (parsley, chives, rosemary, sage, thyme, marjoram, lemon balm, arugula [Rucola for Germans]).

So why do I write this rather silly, rather pedestrian travelogue? The truth is, I don’t know what else to write, how to freeze-frame this restless and relentless heart of mine, to tame its turbulence into words. No. that’s not it at all: I don’t know how to stop the stream long enough to see it—a portion of it—with any clarity at all.

And so words betray me. I don’t have words for what’s happening inside, because I don’t know what’s happening.

Whatever it is, it surely has something to do with the Old Subject. With Maria and B., it’s in the open: they know Steve and I are a couple. We discussed all this (a comprehensive all) last night, and Maria told us Munich has the largest gay population of any city in Germany, because it’s such a desirable place to live. As she put it, though, Berlin’s more liberal, München’s more aesthetic, and gays are aesthetes.

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