I used to be a juggler. Got pretty good, too. Started out small, used three beanies my flatmate Stefan gave me. Stefan was a lively juggler, could use anything at hand. I once watched him take a salt shaker, a wine glass, and a roll of toilet paper and toss them in the air. I held my breath, expected them to come crashing down on the floor, but he kept them suspended for five minutes. All while belting out Nina Hagen.
So I started juggling with Stefan every Sunday in the Stadtpark. I was terrible at first. Man, you gotta breathe, he’d laugh. Sure enough, breathing helped. I could even ride a unicycle. We started busking and we breathed and balanced our way all over Germany. Made some money, got another partner in our act. Beate was gorgeous and could swallow swords. But she left us eventually for a poet named Peter in Paris, and after that the chemistry was gone. Stefan went back to Hamburg, I flew home to Pennsylvania. Found myself in a cubicle wearing polyester shirts and simultaneously drinking whisky from a flask I kept hidden in my bottom drawer while suffocating.
Now I’m back in Hamburg, wondering what happened to Stefan after all this time. I go to the Stadtpark on Sundays and juggle. I’m not so good any more but there’s a girl with red shoes who keeps her distance but always watches. I’m going to talk to her one of these days.