Memory #6: Heiligendamm

Eating spaghettieis with my host sisters in Bad Doberan. They are thin and willowy, with clouds of hair and large shy eyes of shadowy green. We stroll through the quiet lanes, the village stained with amber light in the fading summer afternoon. An old-fashioned train clatter through the cobblestone streets like a child’s quaint toy.

We pile into our host sister’s Volkswagen and take off for the shore, where graceful mansions and hotels of pearly white fling up from the coastline. No one saunters through the flagstone-paved plazas of the fashionable spas and resorts anymore. They remain delicately preserved fossils of a bygone era. My host sisters walk us out onto a lonely pier and we lean over, submitting our hair to the brisk winds. The water is a cold jade green like a slab of marble, and every now and then a jellyfish floats just beneath the seemingly opaque surface. We giggle at beach’s lone visitor, an elderly nude man taking a dip in the waves. Beyond the sea, somewhere, silhouetted against the ballet-pink horizon, lies Denmark.

We drive back through the woods to my host sisters’ home just outside the city walls, sunlight weaving through the branches and dancing over our heads. Their house is modern, large, surrounded by a rolling lawn, and it’s so unlike the aged beauty of their town and so different from the modest, diminutive thriftiness of all the other houses in Germany that I can’t help but be reminded of home.

In the evening we look through our host sisters’ photo albums of family trips to Turkey, Paris, London. As they laugh wispy and bell-like laughs, each others’ best friends, I imagine them to be like fairy-tale maidens, isolated out here in their magnificent suburban home with its expensive shower and multiple bedrooms and pretty garden.
At night I fall asleep to the sound of bleating sheep.

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