Sunday, January 15, 2006

A good day ...

January 15, 2006

Yesterday was a good day. The wave of homesickness that had cut off my ability to enjoy everyday life here in Cologne has passed. I expect it will return now and then in the coming months and years, I may never be completely rid of it, something like a case of Malaria that lurks just below your surface appearance of good health and high spirits. Yesterday the sun was shining and the three of us had a day to ourselves in the city. We also had a mission; find two new pairs of shoes and two new suits for Mama. His Holiness is just approaching the age when he actually understands what I am saying and I am approaching the age where I am beginning to understand what it is he needs in the way of information in order to keep from melting down from boredom or frustration during an outing. HH likes to know what to expect. He’s like his Papa in that regard, nothing makes me happier than a well-executed plan. We stood eye-to eye early Saturday morning, me kneeling down on the floor holding his tiny shoulders firmly in my hands to help focus his attention, HH listening and nodding at the appropriate points in the lecture. The key here is to make a limited number of points and state them simply.
Yesterday’s points were:
1. Mama needs new shoes and clothes– HH & Papa will help her.
2. No screaming in the store.
3. After we find shoes and clothes for Mama we go to Café.
4. No screaming in café.

That was it and I be darned – he understood – except for periodic lapses of memory regarding points 2 and 4. His enthusiasm for the task as hand was an inspiration to shoppers everywhere. Since he was old enough to hold his head erect HH has been strapped on, bundled around or carried to green markets, flea markets, tag sales and retail establishments of all kinds. He moved deliberately through the stores yesterday selecting boots and shoes he liked, and then taking samples over to his Mama for a reaction. It was interesting to see the choices he made – lots of red, lots of fur, and lots of high heels. An hour and thirty minutes later mission number one was accomplished and we were on to mission number two.

We took a short cut from the Friesenplatz where we were shoe shopping to a side street where we stumbled upon the small shop of a designer who creates a limited number of silhouettes each season in a small but well chosen variety of fabrics, then cuts and fits them to his customers. If I had turned my head for a second I would have missed it, the shop was so small and unassuming, but the designs were terrific and just right for Mama’s long, lean frame … so I pushed her into the store, had a brief word or two with Guido and HH and I went on our way to the café while Mama was fitted. It was, to use a sports term, a slam-dunk shopping day, two pairs of shoes and two suits in two hours.
Lunch in the café was a blast – a big loud room filled with beer drinking wurst munching locals where HH could chow down and be rowdy and Papa could have a cool beer.

As good as the meat of the day was, and it was certainly an enjoyable and meaty day (we all ate wurst) … it was the end of the day that will stay with me for the rest of my life. HH and I took a bath, as is our custom, a splashy, bubbly affair with lots of laughing and a fair amount of washing. After our bath I read two books to him, he read one to me and he settled down for the night. Every night I kiss him goodnight and tell him I love him and we talk about what we will be doing the coming day. Then we wave to each other, I turn off the light and leave and usually, he stays in his bed and goes to sleep. Last night when I stood to go to the door and turned to wave to him to say my final good night, he looked over to me and said, “I love you” … for the very first time.