21 June 2010
1954. My grandmother is 15 and grinding poor when she hops on a train somewhere in bombed-out Dresden to escape to West Germany. She gets caught. It doesn't take long and she tries again. Successfully, this time. I wish I'd know the details of the story (Where did she hide inside that train? Was she afraid?), but I do know now that she must have been very brave.
Oma Walli passed away some seventeen years ago. I've always thought I don't remember her all that well. But in Dresden, staring up in awe at the Zwinger Palace, the way she always said she had done as a teenager, and playing with Fé in that little park right next to where she used to live, I suddenly remembered. Her warm smile, her dark voice, and her thick, almost black hair. I remembered the sweet woodruff syrup she used to make, which we kids loved. And the gooseberry rice pudding, which, to this day, is the only rice pudding I have ever managed to eat without choking. And we always, always, got Black Forest Cake with a cherry on top and hot chocolate when we came over.
I can see her now, as a young girl, standing in the middle of the Zwinger, dreaming the dreams all young girls dream. And I feel like I know her again.
Seeing, remembering. It was glorious. Dresden is magical.
That gorgeous woman you see on these pictures is my cousin Pia, who also happens to be one of my best friends. And whom Fé adores like no other. Who also took this picture above of the Dresden Elbe Valley. (If you are ever in Ratingen-Lintorf, drop by in her boutique, Leroy.)
P.S. We stayed at this hotel. I highly recommend.