We arrived back in Germany and decided to change our plans a little. We had originally set to take a day trip to the Rhine River and see a ton of castles. I’ve become quite the fan of them, so this was relevant to my interests. However, after looking at a map, our options were to take a day trip there and then back to Hanover Germany for a 16 to 20 hour day or lug are heavy backpacks around, which was not relevant to my interests. We opted to stay longer with my German exchange student, also because I love the shit out of him and wanted more time with him.
The next five days were intermittently lazy for me. It could’ve been the weed I was smoking, or it could’ve been because it was rainy and overcast, or because I had been traveling for nearly 2 months averaging somewhere around 6 hours of sleep on piss stained hostel beds about an inch wide with snoring grizzly bear sounding Asian men. It was probably a mix of all of those.
I tindered in my boredom and started talking to a friendly German named Mark. After canceling on him a time or two (the weed made me really sleepy- who knew?) I finally agreed to meet up with him and go walk the four mile lake nearby. His texts were nice, albeit sometimes hard to understand. I figured he spoke better in person,. and I was completely wrong.
Mark said he’d be at my place at 9:30am and at 9:29 I got a text he was there. This guy is either in the military or super excited, I thought. Turns out, it was the former. Also, Mark didn’t speak English. He spoke google translate. For those of you that have never had a 6 hour three-way date with google translate, I’d recommend it… if you need to sharpen your charades skills or perhaps just want to work on your patience.
Mark learned English in high school, but since joining the German Air Force as a plane mechanic (I think), he hadn’t used it much. I really had no room here to judge because the ONLY thing I ever learned in German was the numbers 1-5, despite my dad’s avid attempts to teach me my homelands native language as a child.
Marks parents both passed away (separately) this year, and his car also caught on fire. Mark was having a rough few months. He told me he didn’t much care for his parents, his mom was a heavy drinker that didn’t take care of herself and his dad was an extreme alcoholic, eventually passing from liver failure. I don’t know if he openly tells everyone such personal things or if it was just me, but I got all that information together in the first hour. (Probably would’ve been 5 minutes if we spoke each other’s language).
Exhausted after our walk, because.. you know.. physical activity and probably some Mary Jane still coursing through my veins, he offered to take me to lunch. I told him I wasn’t hungry (I didn’t have anything in me to keep trying to communicate but didn’t want to be a dick), but he told me that he thought once I saw the food I would change my mind. Clearly, he was good at reading people.
He took me to a little German chain where I ordered some schnitzels and he laughed at me. I still don’t know why. We spent another two hours there and I finally blamed my travel buddy as my reason for needing to leave. I enjoyed my time with Mark a lot and it was getting easier to talk to him, but as a secret introvert, I also just wanted to take my pants off and take a nap. He also started asking about dating and if I had a boyfriend or would want one, and honestly that freaked me the fuck out.
When he dropped me off he asked if he could take me to the zoo this week, as I had mentioned I wanted to go. I told him my friend and I were going, but if he wanted to come he could. He asked if we could go Wednesday, as Thursday he had “to put dad in ground.”
“Wait.. what?” I asked him. Surely this was some confusion.
“My dad. Ground. Thursday. But I can see you after.. maybe 4?”
What the fuck is going on here?
“You’re burying your dad? THIS Thursday??? He JUST PASSED??!?”
Oh shit. I guess in the translation earlier I hadn’t realized his dad’s passing was so recent. I also hadn’t ever thought anyone would be trying to date while they were in town for a week for THEIR DADS FUNERAL.
“Oh.. okay. No, Wednesday is fine.” I agreed. He may have been okay with squeezing me in after his dad’s burial but I didn’t think that was good and honestly wasn’t sure I could be a support for someone like that, at least without speaking their language. Or knowing their last name. I didn’t want him to get attached, either, if we’re being truthful.
As I walked in the door finally home, the Dutch man asked me to FaceTime. Every part of me wanted to say no because I was exhausted and tired of trying to communicate and get people to understand my jokes but I don’t know how to say no.. it’s actually one of the only three complaints my ex always had about me: I was fat, I drank too much, and “everyone likes you because you don’t say no.” That’s a direct quote.
Anyway, I FaceTime with Dutch even though I told him I’m super awkward on the phone and it’s probably going to get weird. It surprisingly was one of the least awkward conversations I’ve had, but he was really good at talking. I guess being in some sales position for the food industry did that. Homeboy was also a chef for 15 years so we had a lot of common interests. By that I mean he likes to cook and I like to eat. He asked me at the end if I felt awkward and I said no more than usual. He asked me to agree to still meet him in Belgium. I said if he wanted to make the 2.5 hour drive there, to have dinner, I would. I wasn’t making promises on slumber parties or any of that nonsense though. I was tired of committing to anything.
The next day Mark picked my friend and I up and we went to the Hanover Zoo. We pointed at the animals sharing the names of each in our native language (not that I retained one word). At the end of it we went to leave and Mark wanted to tell me something. He google translated it to make sure I understood.
‘I like you very much. I will miss you.”
I said thank you, because I didn’t know what else to say. I enjoyed Mark’s company, but I don’t much miss anything, except my dog. He asked if we could continue to talk while I’m away and said he would teach me German. Long distance foreign language classes via Skype sounds like a terrible time to me, but I said sure, if we could make it work with time.
As he dropped me off he hugged me goodbye and asked if he could see me Thursday before I leave I said I’d be going out with my exchange student but he could come along if he’d like. He enthusiastically agreed and said he’d text me tomorrow after his Dad’s funeral. So weird.
Wednesday came and a guy I had previously talked to when I was in Hanover the first round asked me if I’d like to get ice cream. I think we all know the obvious answer to that by now. He wanted to meet at central station, but with no phone service outside the house, I told him it would never work. He said he would come and get me. He met me at 7pm outside of Leon’s place and we caught a metro to central station. He was tall and attractive and extremely outgoing. He was easy to talk to.
We instantly connected on our hate of the corporate world, the living to make a paycheck instead of living to live, and our love of travel. He was from Tunisia and had moved to Germany nearly 10 years ago. He was going to be moving to Norway in September for work. After ice cream we walked more of the town and grabbed a coffee. It was almost 11m but still not dark. He asked me if I was tired and I told him not yet, but would need to get back soon. He said he’d like to get a drink and talk a bit then, and we’d go to his favorite place. I blindly agreed.
We hopped the metro and after about 5 or 6 stops the opposite direction of Leon’s house, I asked how far away this bar was. He laughed and said it wasn’t much further. We finally get off in an outskirt of a suburb that was dark and I couldn’t see a person in sight. I started to get a little worried.
“Umm.. where exactly is this place?” I asked him.
“Just around the corner” he promised.
Side street after side street, apartment complex and parking lot, he finally starts walking to an apartment complex and goes to unlock the door.
“Oh. Uhh.. this is your place.”
“Well, my mom’s, but don’t worry, the basement will be completely comfortable for you while you’re held hostage there” he joked. I hoped anyway.
It wasn’t that I have never gone to a strange mans house that I didn’t know, but I had always been told ahead of time that’s where we were going. Either I missed this in passing, or he was being sneaky. I really didn’t feel that great about it, and he could tell.
“If at any point you want to leave, we can leave. You don’t have to worry.” I feel like that’s every serial killers last words, and my mom’s voice started popping in my head.
Well, this is where I die. And I don’t even know where THIS is. I should set a drop pin so she can find my body. Then I followed him in.
“What time does the last metro run?” I asked him.
“Oh, late. I just looked it up. It’s like 12:30.”
His place was a well kept bachelor pad, and he gave me a brief tour. After offering me a drink and declining, he said he promised he wouldn’t roofie it. I liked that he made jokes. At bare minimum I would like to be chopped up while giggling, if at all possible. We sat on his couch and he started showing videos of him homeland and the beautiful beaches there and night life. I decided Tunisia would be on my list, if I made it out alive.
A little over an hour passed and I was getting tired and still a bit on edge. And it was getting closer to 12:30. I asked him again about the metro and what time the last one ran. He pulled out his phone and followed with “Oh.. looks like it leaves in 11 minutes. But you can always call a cab. It’s very easy to get.”
Well, this wasn’t the original plan.
I explained to him my history of hailing cabs and that the one I caught in Barcelona is still actively texting me, and also haven’t found they all speak English.
“I think I should go.”
“Okay. You might not make it but I guess if you want to try.”
He slowly got his shoes on as I stood by the door. I don’t know why I felt so on edge, but I think it was because the origin of tricking me into going to his house. We started speed walking to the metro, and I was thankful he was walking me there. There was no way on God’s green earth I would have been able to find this place on my own. He bought me a ticket to catch the metro and gave me a (good) kiss goodbye. He told me should I move to Germany, he’d like to continue seeing me. I told him if he continues supplying ice cream on our dates I would consider it.
Thursday I slept in and was overall pretty lazy around the house. Dutch man was texting me asking if he should come to Hanover that night, instead of in the morning. I told him that was up to him, but that I wouldn’t be able to see him, so there was really no point. Leon and his fiancée and my travel buddy all talked about how crazy it was this guy was willing to drive from one country to another, to pick up a girl he’s never met, to drive her to a third country, and then back to his original country. My exchange student was anything but thrilled about it.
As the night came, Dutch decided to drive and text me he was leaving. He said he’d be there in 2.5 hours. It was a 4 hour drive.
“Alright, well I’m going out with my friends so I won’t be able to see you tonight. No need to rush.”
Mark also was texting me about meeting. We hadn’t decided fully if we were going to go out anymore because it was storming and we were all a bit tired. I told him I was still waiting to hear the plans. He asked if he could just come see me in private for a little bit and there was something he wanted to tell me. This gave me too much anxiety. What on earth could a guy I have two dates with need to tell me in person, privately? I told him that it wasn’t going to work and I wanted to spend the last night with my friend. He said he was sad, and wished me well for the future. I have not heard from Mark since.
After deciding not to go out, the four of us sat around the dinner table and played some card games. I felt so thankful for my life at that moment. I felt so thankful that 20 years ago this blonde haired teenager decided to trek across the world to come live with us for a year, and that two decades later, I could be sitting in his home, sharing stories of our memories and lives, and knew this was exactly where I was meant to be.
Leon also offered to help me move to Germany. He has offered to help me find a job, house me while I am getting settled, and teach me German. Did I mention that Germany also has free schooling for everyone, and standard vacation time is 6 weeks per year? It’s been something I’m considering, strongly.
As for Dutch man, I am going to continue the crazy story of our first date, that includes a broken down car, a German police 45 minutes escort, and someone dropping the “L-bomb” (hint: it wasn’t me).
Last, here’s some pictures from the lovely Hanover and surrounding areas.