I got hella cute. All tight clothes, scarf, mittens (thanks again Sue) with full red lips and black eyeliner. Chris asked me where I was going and I hunched my shoulders "I dont even know where the hell I am. Im just goin outside." He tried to show me a map and I nodded 'no'. "Im gettin lost Chris. It's the only way I'll learn. See you later. He insisted on at least showing me the direction of gig I had tonight. It was helpful so I let him show me. I walked out the door and went right. Why not right?! I kept going right and breathed in the air. Stared at all the gorgeous leaves falling and marveled at the narrow streets full of mercedes, bmw's and vw's parked bumper to bumper. I walked about twenty minutes and stopped for some Italian food. I got a salad with vinegar and a pesto pasta that tasted like NOTHING I've EVER had in the US. I paid 5 euros. I felt like I'd just been told that my mother wasn't my real mom. Like I'd been lied to all my damn life. I enjoyed my meal and kept walking towards the gig. From the look of the map it was only about a 45 minute walk. Not bad at all. It was 2 o'clock and I didnt have to be there until 9PM but I wanted to find it early then find nearby sights to see to make sure I wasnt too far from the gig to be on time. I walked and walked and noticed how truly beautiful Germany is until . . . . until I saw a Pizza Hut. All that was going through my head was the delicious food I'd just had and as soon as my eye caught the Pizza Hut I said aloud "you gotta be fuckin kiddin me." The old lady that heard me just stared me up and down as she passed. I let her look! I kept walking and exploring until I saw Diana! The young womyn who picked me up from the airport. She was walking with a teenage girl. I waited till she got close and said "uhm exscuse me miss, I'm looking for the University of Applied Science, may you direct me?" and we both laughed and hugged. She asked me what I was doin and I said "shit" and she hit me. I forgot she does social work and was with a client. She told me to give her five minutes. the young girl asked "Is that your friend? Is she American?! You are SO cool!" Diana came back and we kicked it for a sec before she caught a train to mind her business. We walked and talked and I had to confess to her "you know Diana, I been here for a few days and I got over my jet lag in New York - no shit, but I still dont feel like Im in Germany."
"Joyce, where do you feel like you are? Does this narrow street look like America?"
"No. But yes, I mean why not? It looks like a part of America I aint seen before, ya know? Even people speakin German. It dont really hit me no different than America, I dont understand what most folks say there either and we speak the same language and I know they dont understand me. The only thing thats different here is that I dont know anyone and I dont have a phone where people callin me and askin me for a million things and I like that."
"you know Joyce, I hate to tell you this, but you might have to do some touristy shit. It's the only way it'll sink in."
We laughed. Talked more and went our ways.
It was about 5:30 when I got to the gig. Way too early so I decided to hang out at a local pub. Not drink, just hang and mingle. A very pretty womyn named Anna told me where the nearest hole in the wall pub was because I asked. It was about 4 blocks away. I went. It had a million posters of all the greats up: Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Sammy Davis, Nina Simone and so on. As soon as I entered a cute puppy ran to me and sniffed. I am NOT a pet person but this puppy had the sweetest eyes and I just kept pettin it. Her owner kept callin her back to him but she wouldnt go. I finally walked her over. "the best touch is a womyn's touch they say" he had a never ending laugh - like he had to slow it down in giggles, then mumbles, then deep breathing to stop it. He looked older than he was, Im sure. He looked about 70. He sounded around 64. I introduced myself and we talked. His name is Olrich. He is a blues lover and I told him that I am too. He asked me who is one of my favorite artists - I said Nina Simone off top. Then I started singing House of The Rising Sun (the fast version). And Olrich gave off a strange energy. Not mean or sad. But I felt him yank away. So I changed the subject. "You married Olrich?"
"No, I'm widowed. Been by myself for 15 years but I like being alone. I was married for 15 years and the heart never forgets. The soul is forever and my love had a huge soul."
"She died fifteen years ago?"
"No. She left me 15 years ago."
"Olrich - wait - I thought you said you was a widow."
"We never really married but I loved her and I love only her till this day. She left me for a blues singer. He used to sing that song you was singin - House of The Rising Sun. That was my loves favorite song. She left me for him and he left her . . . . She jumped to her death. 16 stories . . . but the heart never forgets. I still love her. My only love."
There were tears in his eyes - and mine too. I ordered a shot of whiskey.
"Olrich, I've never met a man who's loved like that before. It's an honor to know you" we clinked glasses and drank. We talked more and Olrich introduced me to an old German film director who worked with Harry Belefonte (I know I spelled that wrong) and who also brought the BEST cheese, bread and onion snacks everrrrrr. Before I knew it, it was time for me to feature. Olrich begged me to come back after, I promised I would. "OK, I'll wait right here for you." I kept tellin him not to but he insisted.
The feature was OK. it felt weird saying poetry for folks that may or may not understand one word that was coming out of my mouth but I did the best I could and sold a couple things. I also announced to the audience that I had no intentions of going back to the US anytime soon and gave them some ideas of how to help me. during the intermission a young man began walking towards me. I just KNEW he was not coming to talk to me as big and familiar as the smile was on his face - but he was. He came and sat on the couch next to me and introduced himself "Hello, my name is Luke" I introduced myself too. He was very handsome. Tall, bronze skin, long dimples, cheekbones, perfect smile, shiny black hair. he looked Persian. "I think may be able to help you stay. I have some ideas."
"Ha! No, that's an original guess though. My mother is from Trinidad and my father is German."
We discussed some things. He sounded smooth. He bought a CD and told me he was into film and wanted me to do a poetry video with him and a friend of his. I told him we'd talk about it and that my email was on the back of the CD he bought. He shook my hand and left. By the end of the night I had 4 more gigs lined up. So that was cool. It was getting late and I was ready to go home but not before I kept my promise to Olrich.
After the slam folks kept wanting to talk and I tend to wear how Im feeling on my face. So I did all I could to get outta there by 1AM. I was thinking how I told Olrich the show would be over an hour ago and had no idea it would overlap this long. I was hating the thought of him thinking of me as a liar. I jetted as fast as I could to the bar to find Olrich in the same spot talking to another set of friends. When he saw me he yelled "Heeeeey, look who brought the sunshine with her all the way from California!" We hugged. he introduced me to some more people and asked me to stay and drink a glass of wine with him. I told him that I didnt come to stay, I just came to keep my promise about coming back. We hugged again and he thanked me for existing, and I thanked him back and meant it. He was really worth all the walking.