This morning as I was riding down a gently sloping hill to a class at the bank, I realised my back brakes weren't working, ditto with my lights (although almost eight am it was pitch black) and my back tyre was verging on flat. When I took it to be fixed the man at the bike shop said the brake cable had frozen. And so I return to winter. The funny thing is it hasn't actually been that cold, the day I arrived it was about twelve degrees, unprecedented for this timeof year. The florists are still putting their wares on the street, the bulbs are sprouting up everywhere (poor little buggers think it's spring) and I was beginning to think we may have avoided the nose-streaming, finger-numbing, ear-stinging cold. Ha. That said, it has only been the last two days that, in the words of Kielers, winter has “finally” arrived so perhaps it'll be short. Kiel is as it always was, although I've been here long enough now to have some regular everyday contacts, like the aforementioned bikeshop man who uses the informal you with me and charges me far too little for all the repairs I'm always bringing him, or the lady in the overpriced fruit shop whose homemade soups I often buy who joyfully exclaimed to me today that they recently got cherries from Australia which were the size of her fingertip and cost thirty five Euro (about forty bucks) a kilo. I've even found people have been smiling back at me. Perhaps I wasn't trying hard enough before.
It's been three weeks of hayfever, Coopers beer, bodysurfing, long drives, fireworks, mangoes, monolingualism and sunburn. Home is somehow always the same- even though I felt like an alien for the first week or so. Everyone was so smiley yet overworked, every gorgeous cafe was staffed by underpaid international students and the glorious franginpani trees and blue skies framed streets whose unbelievable ugliness I had never noticed before; with their rust-coated roofs and long, dusty, overcrowded roads. The best thing about being here has been my new eyes, apart from the fact they are constantly itchy, which have seen my home city in a way I'd never seen it before. The harbour sparkles and the new suburbs sprout, in between the villages of the inner west abound with life, queer parents and alternative living.
On my second day I went to the doctor who I've had since I was five. He typed my details into his spanking new iMac and was shocked to discover I was 28. "Don't wait to have children" he advised, as I quietly nodded, amused but appalled. It's time to run away again...
I've met two beautiful kids since I've been here and have to admit the urge is getting stronger again (it's defintely time to go). Perhaps the best antidote is to offer to babysit little Milan when I get back.