Germany (Part 2)

I'am in the roof of a 120-year-old house in Halle, Germany, the birthplace of George Frideric Handel. I am in Paul's bedroom. He is Kathi's 18-year-old hippy son. He credits his fluency in English to playing Grand Theft Auto for up to 12 hours a day for the past 5 years. When he is not playing video games, Paul is an artist. He painted the bedroom walls lime green with white spots. There are two windows. They slope with the roof, and the blinds are pulled over them, so most of the illumination is coming from the 32" computer screen I am facing. I am sat on a tiny dark-blue sofa next to Paul's bunkbed. It is a metal bunkbed. Not unlike a prison one except it is twice as broad. His mattress is on the thin side. He is a man of simple sleeping needs. I can relate to that. I am typing slower than normal because the arrangement of the keys is not what I am used to and there are letters I am unfamiliar with such as ü, ö, and ä that I keep hitting accidentally.

When I first arrived Paul was eating cheese that made the whole apartment stink like feet that hadn't been washed in a decade. Let's go back to that day.

In order to get by the emergency door in the middle of the plane - surely the safest place to sit? - I was one of the first to board the Ryan Air flight. When the staff in blue uniforms demonstrated what to do in the event of an emergency landing, I sat there committing every instruction to memory. I even visualised myself in the water, pulling the correct chord to add extra air to my inflatable, before being rescued by heroic fishermen. Taking off, I hoped the effects of the alcohol I'd consumed would last for the one-and-a-quarter-hour flight. The sweet smell of wine on my breath reassured me.
The flight went smoothly until the landing. Descending over a forest, the plane wobbled a few times, sobering me up.

Formerly a Russian airbase, Altenburg Airport is tiny. It has one baggage-claim machine and two passport-control kiosks. Approaching the customs agent, I feared my FBI and Interpol records would show on his computer screen. That I'd be stripped naked and subjected to German shephards sniffing my backside. But he just looked at my passport and nodded me through.

I picked up Kathi and kissed her. She was with another MySpace couple, Nici and Stefan. We joked about us all having met on MySpace.
Outside was hot. Not Arizona hot, more like Spanish-summer hot. I regretted bringing three sweaters.
Through coutryside, Nici drove on the American side of the street. The cars looked different. Many BMW's, VW's, Daimlers, Opels, Renaults, and Skodas.

Getting into Halle, I noticed the abscence of houses as we understand them in the West. No single one- and two-story homes. All three- and four-story buildings joined in rows. I admired the old architecture and the sturdy character of the buildings. I hadn't seen so much graffiti since driving through South Central L.A..

There were many bicycles in Kathi's hallway. I wondered about the axe on the floor. With my 15 kilos of luggage permitted by Ryan Air, climbing the 63 stairs to get to her apartment was a workout. I arrived at her front door sweating, and obeyed her order to take off my sneakers. As soon as I walked in, her interior-design skills struck me. So many vibrant colours. It felt as if I were walking into a good mood. One that rubbed off on me right away.

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