A circle. A destination. This day.
My expectations. Your silence.
Another photo of the horizon.
Category Archives: Dorothee Lang
It was in a coffee break between two powerpoint presentations, with her expecting nothing but the usual small talk, that they came to talk about home. How it takes a while to feel home in a new place. How sometimes, you never reach that point.
“All my childhood memories are in another place,” he said. “When I moved here, I didn’t feel at home at all. It was just the place I lived, currently. Then, one weekend, I visited a friend, and after I left, somewhere along the road, I had this feeling of driving home.”
Maybe it was the combination of the two words that triggered the memory: home and road. “Once, when travelling in India, I went on an organized desert trip,” she remembered. “In Rajasthan, that was. Two days of desert, riding on camels, camping out there. A jeep picked me and the others up at the guesthouse, to take us to the starting point. They had music playing, Take me Home, Country Roads, and Sweet home Alabama. The songs accompanied us through the desert, and in the evening, at the camp fire, we sang them again, in the middle of this huge, empty, sandy landscape: Take me home, country roads, to the place we belong. Which was right there, for that song, for that day.”
all those layers
a steady two or t(h)ree
that had been the brief plan
the concept of exponential scales and continental drift:
truth was, we still tried to (read)just the moment
when we had sat there, listening
She dials the number carefully. Voices surround her. A telephone box would be handy now, a space with a door, she thinks while she listens to the ringing of the phone on the other side of the line. Which, of course, isn’t a real line anymore, but a conglomerate of computers, transmitter and satellites. A black box of communication without answer.
She tries again, just in case.
“Hello,” she finally whispers into the phone, as if it would make a difference. “Hello, are you there.”
She waits another two rings before she pushes the disconnect button. The she turns away, takes some steps into the crowd, becomes part of it again. A minute later, she is gone, while you still stand there, waiting for your phone to ring.
are tossed tangents
or leave it
while you halt + read
while the heads
in this velo(city)
|we spent the first half|
|of the evening|
|in an affectionate distance|
|of observing the other|
|the unspoken questions|
|lingered rumpled, waiting|
|until they finally broke through the walls|
|we had tried to keep up|
|around us||silence fell|
|like a veil|
|and took us back|
|to where we started,|
|a wor(l)d ago|
She sat in ant.icipation, watched a fire.fly. It was her first night vigil. By daylight, she had laughed the task away. I’m no cow.ard, she had stated.
She swallow.ed. Fact was, the night had a fourth, fur.ious dimension, there, next to the r.eal river. And just like her, the forest, so calm at noon, now was dealing with its own moving bear.ings.
She clears the snow, once more. Her shoes are drained already, her arms are tired. The snow keeps falling since days. She tries to see it as just what it is: a structure of H2O. Strings of molecules, the base of life.
“The rain that falls, the water we drink, it’s the same water that was home to the first fish, that quenched the thirst of the first mammals,” a scientist explained on TV.
She imagines them, all those drops of water that keep moving through time, in different states of being, once being a river, once a cup of coffee, once being used for the laundry, and then falling again, as rain, as snow. The circular thought brings on images of the streets of laundry she has ironed in her life, of the armies of dishes she has washed, of all those days she has woken up to, to fall asleep again at their end.
In the morning, she stands in the kitchen, waits for the water to boil while the morning traffic floated by on the street below. Her neighbour is up already, too: she can hear his TV, the morning news: a stream of voices through the wall.
She doesn’t want to hear the world yet, switches her CD player on, listens to Dream Café #2 while she has breakfast: Siesta del Sol and Walkabout. In the shop where she works, there’s a different kind of music playing now: Santa songs, to improve the sales. White Christmas, Winter Wonderland, and Jingle Bells, over and over.
Finally her shift is done.
“And now?” her colleague asks.
“Now, into the water,” she says and smiles.
She has brought her bag, the safest way to really go there, especially in winter. As always, the water feels cold at first. Even here, in the public swimming hall, music is playing. She listens to the tunes while she slides through the water, is surprised to hear Heroes de Silencio, on this Thursday in December: Entre dos Tierras.
Later, in the attached sauna, it’s world music: Indian guitars, esoteric flutes. The speakers also cover the room with the loungers, the one with the sign “Quiet, please” at the door – as if silence was a dangerous state, best to be avoided.
Lying there, she wonders what would happen if for one day, silence entered the world.
A room. Shelves filled with things, trinkets, pictures, gifts, little statues. An open suitcase on the bed. I put those things inside, the pictures, the gifts, the trinkets. They are my memories, tokens of time. Then I close the suitcase, and walk down streets, past a park, until I arrive at the bridge. There’s a bench there, a waiting place for the bus that will come and carry me home.
Sitting there, I realize that I forgot the things in the drawer. So I leave the suitcase, and walk back to the room, to gather them. But I get lost on the way. Instead of the park, there is a huge hotel, alleys with stores that are filled with antiques. I follow another street, thinking it will take me to the bridge, to my suitcase, and the bus stop. But the street only leads to more shops. I walk on, disorientated, and finally enter a café. A woman offers a seat at her table, she talks of Japan, and shows me pictures of a lake, of trees covered with snow. Still she talks of summer. I can understand her, even though her language is different. Others I can’t understand, even though they talk the same language as I do.
The day moves on, but we all remain sitting there, trying to communicate, and I think, maybe we all got lost somewhere, and missed the bus that would take us home.
They change style overnight
Reinvent themselves, merge
aaaaaaaaaTradición y future
Check in and out of clubs, hotels, lounges
Always on the hunt for
aaaaaaaaaLa look muy chic –
They walk down avenues, cross paths in perfect timing
aaaaaaaaaToday: fashionista ultraclásico
aaaaaaaaaTomorrow: fantasía urbania
Their secret code: la nouveau parfum malicieux
Their destination: unbranded
The postcard had spent the first weeks of its square life waiting to get a peek of the world. It was part of a set of identical postcards in one of the typical tourist shop postcards roundabouts. There had been 4 more cards in front of it. Then 3. Then 2. That’s when the postcard started to get itchy: Soon now, its time would come.
“I will travel the world,” it proclaimed.
“Be warned. That part of your existence is heavily overrated,” the elder postcard next to it pointed out. “You will travel in a mail bag that gets tossed around. That’s all. Only the most fortunate of us make it to a pinboard.”
The postcard felt a slight letdown. “But maybe I am one of those,” it said.
Then finally it happened: the cards in front of it were bought, and for the first time, the postcard could see the world. The world, it realized, consisted of many shelves full of multi-colored stuff. Again, the postcard felt a slight letdown.
“Patience, my friend,“ the elder postcard advised.
The postcard wasn’t good at patience, but it tried. And finally, everything changed: a customer appeared and turned the roundabout of cards.
The view opened to a long, beautiful beach.
“WOW,” the postcard said and almost toppled over. “That’s me! That’s the picture I carry! I don’t want to leave this place, ever!”
“See,” the elder said. “That’s what I was trying to tell you all along.”
“Sea,” he says.
Her eyes are closed, her toes curled into his. “She,” she answers.
He doesn’t get it.
She paints the words into the air: sea, see, sie.
“They are alike,” she explains, “sea and see. And in German, it would be understood as sie, which means: she.”
“Homonym,” he says.
Now she doesn’t get it.
“Different words, same pronunciation,” he explains. “Definition of homonym.”
“Probably the very same word in German,” she figures, and searches for more of them.
“I,” she says.
“Eye,” he answers,
“And in German: Ei. Egg.”
Outside, a bus drives by, honks.
“Easy,” she answers. More. Is Moor in German: bog.”
“Okay,” he says. “Done.”
She beams. “That’s another one, actually.”
“So then,” he says, his hand in her hair, and they both fall silent while their minds go hunting for more words that sound as alike as they feel that day.
they worked in hopeless jobs
A coastline with wide views – that’s where a friend and I are camping, near the waterfront, in a tent. It is morning, and my friend is still sleeping, so I head to the town at the other end of the bay, to buy fresh food. It’s a long walk, but I have time, and enjoy being out there. I visit the bakery, then the small store, where I have a coffee. When I step out of the store, the horizon has changed color. It is orange. There are huge clouds building over the water – a storm. I have to get back fast now, I think.
That’s when I see the man, in a boat. I ask him to bring me to the other end of the bay, and in a minute, we are there. Only that I am not closer to where I want to get. I am in another town, and walk through streets filled with old pompous buildings. It’s there that it starts to rain, and I step into an emerald passageway, to stay dry. An old woman is taking pictures of the place, to protocol the architecture. “I need to get to the camping site,” I tell her, and she gives me a map full of bus lines, and points at a bus stop sign. While I wait for the bus, I watch the clouds move, and imagine the rain, how it will pour down on the tent.
We thank Dorothee Lang for her art for this week “sand mandala”:
“There were some Tibetan monks near here and they did a sand mandala, so fascinating. I thought of this for unseen, as the mandala symbols all represent the mystical, the invisible world beyond our conscious grasp.”
The first snow came early that year, overnight, in October. The roads were closed for two days, electricity gone.
The houses, the gardens, the people, they all were hibernating in white, underneath thick blankets. The only sign that someone had roamed the night: paw prints, leading to doors, circling the houses, yet leaving no other trace –
Does, the kids guessed, or forest fairies, curious for our life.
The old women shook their heads.
They knew more. But they wouldn’t tell, not that day, and not later, when the snow was gone again, and all were still alive.
*(rivals are based on googlism)
It happened years ago, in another city that was captured by a heat wave. The air didn’t cool down, not even in the nights. We were colleagues since a year, her and I, and sat outside in a café, sipping iced drinks, basically to postpone the moment of having to step into the hotel, into solid, sticky spaces, where our alarm clocks were already waiting to be set.
Maybe it was the heat that melted the line between being colleagues and being friends that day, I am still not sure of it. Yet at one point, we were miles beyond small talk. It was the last time we were travelling together, but I didn’t know this yet.
We kept talking, moving from one theme to the next. A man walked by, he played a guitar, and the tunes were like concentric circles, floating through the street, together with our words.
We ordered one more drink. “There’s this concept”, she said, her eyes suddenly all clear and open. “Or more something like a wish for life – to never be finished.”
Two weeks later, seemingly out of the blue for many others, she quit her job. I thought we would meet again, continue the talk we had on that evening – I kept feeling I missed something back then, something important. Unfinished, the word returns to me even now, with its open end, and I still don’t know how to feel about it.
The day starts like any other of her days. She gets up at 6.30, gets dressed, has a cup of coffee, and leaves the apartment at 7.05.
It’s a crisp, clear morning, and she actually enjoys the walk to the bus station. As always, she is two minutes early. She likes it that way.
Yet that day, her daily rhythm is disturbed by a Chinese dragon who walks down the street. It’s not a real dragon, of course. Just a promotion dragon. It stops in front of her.
“A free fortune cookie for you,” the dragon says, and hands it to her with his green paw.
“Thanks,” she replies.
Her bus approaches, the dragon waves goodbye. In the bus, she opens the cookie, pulls out the folded piece of paper, and reads:
This month, emotions are emphasized in circles. The real focus is the purpose of your life. A heart wide open can require major transitions.
Lucky number: 9
She reads the lines again, tries to make sense of them. Maybe their real meaning got lost in translations, she concludes. The only thing that speaks to her is the number: 9.
From that day on, for a surprisingly long time, she waits for a situation that could be about luck, about a choice that includes some kind of nine. But the days move on in their usual, dragonfree rhythm, none of them holding a door 9, or a room 9, or any kind of choice 9.
I am not responsible for
it, the divorce, this post, past mistakes, driving drunk,
the choices you make, what other people lack
You are not responsible for
being down, anything, anyone else, your feelings,
suffering, what people think about you, paying debts
She is not responsible for
breaking up, failure to meet the deadlines, damages,
her husband’s actions, many events, being raped
He is not responsible for
his father, a group of supporters, the contents of pages,
his behaviour, the breakdown of peace, this dilemma
We are not responsible for
lost or stolen valuables, data attacks, what Iran did,
Electricity Crisis Change, them, lost brain cells
They are not responsible for
their own criminal behaviour, Hitler, any shortcomings,
the current economy crisis, the actions of people
(* based on conjugated “not responsible for” google search results)
blackbirds cross into tomorrow
and circle back on minute wings
while i stand and watch the clock
this everlasting ticking
the deadline triggers
i walk the line
There are dogs howling that night, pulling her awake when all she wants is to stay asleep. There is something else outside, too, at least that’s how it feels when she stands at the window and looks into the dark. The dogs still linger when she lays down again and drifts back to the land of night, into a dream that isn’t from a place she’s been to before.
In the dream, she is with three others. They stand in the middle of a vast, desert landscape. In a distance, there is one single building, huge, with a glass dome in the middle. They walk up to the building, and enter through the open gate. Inside, it’s silence. They walk around, looking for someone, for something to give them a clue. But all the rooms are empty. It feels like walking through the empty halls of a civilization that has faded, without a trace: endless floors of nothingness.
Finally, they reach the glass dome. There are tables underneath it, with a view to the dome, and to the different levels of the building. They take a seat. It feels like being in a solar cafe, only that there is no one else.
Later, people appear. They pass their table without saying a word. As if they couldn’t see them, couldn’t notice them. As if they were in the same place, but in another dimension, or another dream.
She never had been good at patience. Reliability, understanding, self-discipline, even humour – no problem on those fronts. But having to wait – for a bus, for a waitress, for a reply – pulled her strings.
“And it gets worse,” she confessed to a friend. “Last week, I got in trouble after I tried to sneak up to the front of a queue. A woman almost hit me with her handbag.”
“Get a garden,” her friend advised. “It’s a great way to learn patience and tranquillity. You can’t rush flowers, and they will calm you.”
So she went ahead. She didn’t want to wait, and thus ordered one of the new ready-to-grow gardens with roses, lilies and other flowers included. It arrived in a huge green parcel. She unrolled it and added water. Then she sat down, and imagined to be a flower in her own garden.
It all went well at first. The garden grew happily, and being a flower induced a general feeling of tranquillity. She still had difficulties with queuing for a bus, but she was better prepared now: she always carried a pop-up flower book with her.
Then the snails arrived. They circled her flowers, then started to queue in front of the petals, set to munch one after the other. She tried to practice understanding and ease, and offered to get some snail snacks. The snails agreed, but lost patience while she queued at the counter, and chewed up the petals until all tranquillity was gone.
She had been warned. On first glance, this species seemed like another average task: anthropoid, medium-brained, clueless about any realm beyond the third dimension.
She observed them from the camp her ancestors had put up on Mars aeons ago, when the first earthlings had reached the level of rudimentary writing. That had been 5000 years ago.
By now, the earthlings were roaming the stage of basic technology. Fascinated by mechanics and speed, they had managed to burn 67 percent of their planet’s resources, and were still eager to go faster. Every now and then, they built giant telescopes, then ended up frustrated as neither aliens nor antimatter could be found, despite all their hopes and their piles of astrophysical equations.
Parallel to observing them, she read through the reports of those who had gone on ground missions before her. Many hadn’t returned. Some had turned to humans, some had died as martyrs, some still were there, trying to prevent the worst.
Weirdlings, she had named them secretly. Now, while preparing for her own ground mission, she had to confess that she was both appalled and fascinated by them, by their overly occupation with dialects, frontiers, and hair lengths; their hopeless love for the nature they slowly killed; their longing to travel the world and the universe, to find peace, and recreate paradise, somehow.
“Don’t fall for them,” her commander reminded her again before she was beamed down.
I knew it was just a matter of time. And sure enough, one March morning, I woke up sneezing again, stumbled into the bathroom and roamed the shelf. No allergy pills left.
The pharmacy was still closed, so I went to the bakery. The woman behind the counter looked just like me: Redeyed and sneezing.
“Two croissants”, I said, and pulled out a fiver.
“I don’t have change,” she cautioned. “It’s one crap morning. I need to go to the bank, but I am alone.”
Then she looked at me. Our red eyes were meeting.
“I could go,” I offered. Still not sure where that came from, but there I was, all hard-shell, soft-core boyscout.
She handed me a fifty.
I walked away. She doesn’t even know my name, I realized. Not that the fifty would get me anywhere. That thought in mind, I entered the bank.
My vision was kind of blurred – I didn’t notice the big rabbit with the gun until I queued behind it.
“One hundred,” the rabbit said to the cashier.
“Euro, Dollar or Yen?”
The rabbit scratched his big ears. “How would I know?”
I looked at the fifty in my hand, poked the rabbit, and handed him the note. In exchange, I took his gun, and robbed the bank for good.
“And now?” asked the rabbit once I was done.
“Now we’ll walk out of this sorry day,” I told him.
And so we went, sneezing.
It was one of the first things she did after they opened the wall. That’s at least what she told me years later, more than 1000 miles from Berlin, over a meal that started with Carpaccio and ended with Tiramisu.
Back then, in those new, open days of November 1989, she took the bus to Alexanderplatz. From there, she went to the checkpoint that marked the border of her world for decades. Now the passage to the other side of the city was open.
She walked down the once familiar streets of Berlin, walked down Kurfürstendamm, walked through Tiergarten, walked along the street of the 17th June. And finally, walked into a butcher’s shop. Stood there, and gazed at the different kind of sausages.
“And they really are all for sale?” she inquired.
“Ja sicher,” the man behind the counter said, “Yes sure”.
She still couldn’t believe it. She asked for ten slices, each from a different sausage, and explained that she was from the other side.
The man behind the counter cut and wrapped up the slices, and added some salami for free. “From Italy,” he said.
She thanked him, carefully placed the bundle in her bag, and walked back. At Alexanderplatz, she sat down on a bench. Her feet hurt, but she didn’t care. She opened the bundle, and savoured the slices, slowly, one after the other. She made it as far as the fourth before she broke down in tears.
“White,” he says.
“Black,” I answer. Then I correct myself: “Snow.”
He doesn’t look up, just keeps filling my answers into little printed boxes.
“Street,” he says.
“Sign,” I answer.
He takes his time.
My mind keeps playing his game while I wait for the next task. House Mouse. Trap Escape. Door Window…
“Now pick a color,” he says.
He places 6 cards in front of me. Blue Yellow Red. Green Orange Violet.
“White,” I say.
He doesn’t get the joke. Or maybe it’s part of the rules: no humour.
“Pick a color”, he says.
“Orange,” I answer.
He takes the card, takes another note.
We repeat the color game until there is only green left.
“Hope goes last,” I comment. I can’t help it.
“They are complementary,” he informs me. “If you add all of them, you arrive at white.”
I hadn’t known that. Or maybe I had, a long time ago. I lean back, waiting for the next stupid telling question, but we are done. He hands me a cheque.
On the way home, I buy a box of water colors. I make sure that all six colors are included, blue yellow red, green orange violet. I paint them on a boxless page, one after the other. I try. I try again. White, I say. White Sky. Street Crossing. I try and try. But the only places I arrive at are brown, gray, nameless.