I climbed the Königstuhl today. It was cold. I went to the altstadt and ate zwei brätwurst mit brötchen and then I headed up the schloss. I have seen it before, years ago and I needed to see again. At the cafe I bought some Kirchwasser and an ice-cream and started the hike up the mountain. I found the stairs, some three hundred of them (or so it seemed) that lead to the top. The first hundred were fine. The second hundred made me rethink my pace and slow down a little and ruminate the problems of the world a little more. The last three hundred were brutal and I pretended that I was in good shape, in case anyone saw me panting. I did make it to the top after a half hour. I put on my mp3 player and started listening to Gillian Welch. Good climbing music. When I reached the top, I thought I heard voices in the recording, which you sometimes hear in live albums. These voices however were in German, and I thought it more likely that they were coming from people behind me than from an acoustic concert of country music somewhere in South Carolina.
I found it.
I found the towers, probably built at the end of the war, with their two red light beacons, which welcomed me home every time I cycled back from work when I lived here.I was moved. I stood there alone and looked at the towers. I walked further along the mountain top and discovered that there were too many people there for me to absorb the scene, so I walked back toward the towers and then to the view. One of the most amazing and important views for me. I saw the city. I saw the river. The bridges and the lights. I remembered when last I was here and I believed in my future in my place on this earth. I can't quite feel it this time and I have been trying, but I feel like I'm not here. My memory is here, but I am not. I move through the city like a ghost. Alone. Alone in language. Alone in company. Alone in memories. I have been trying to make new ones, that will last, that will endure. New ones that will cover up the old ones and remind me that I am still alive. Alas.
As I made to descend the mountain, I thought of something my friend Flanders said to me about climbing the mountain and finding that when I get to the top, I don't need to be there. Something like that happened today. I found something at the top that I didn't expect. It was me. I expected to find something better, more satisfying, consoling. I got there and thought 'Oh, it's you.'Are you what I am really looking for? I suppose I am. I am what I am looking for. Read that anyway you like. But, at least I have an explanation. Maybe that's something I need to think about for the New Year, and the one after that.
I want to find hope up on that mountain again. I want to find the hope in me, that has eluded me these last few years. Maybe it's been ten. At what age do you find yourself. What I am expecting to find. Is there anything? Does anyone know? Hmmm
Food for thought on this day in January 2009.