I'm really not sure how I originally stumbled across Maria's blog. I'm sure I was chasing down links from other blogs and I'm sure that I was in a searching-for-photographic-or-scrapbooking-inspiration-type mood. She takes some extraordinary photos of flowers especially. Those are my favorites. She also manages to do some amazing stuff with digital scrapbooking. I keep hoping that I'll learn something about this other scrapbooking tool by reading & watching what she does. So far it hasn't worked but I can hope!
Anyway, her post on July 5th resonated with me on a few different levels. There was the very accurate description of what I call "The deep dark funk" mood when just nothing seems to be working & I'm most definitely not happy about it. Next was the description of her mother's difficulties with wounds lately. Drafting up a private e-mail to Maria, brought to the surface memories about a little baby I'd taken care of, way back when, in residency. When I figure out how best to write some of my prior patients' stories, I intend too. It's just a matter of figuring out how to tell their stories without violating all the HIPPA laws. And lastly her thoughts on the Fourth of July and American citizenship reminded me of a story I wanted to tell. I alluded to it here, but got off on a different tangent. So now is as good a time as any.
It was back in 1980. I was living in Heidelberg Germany with my family, and was an active 10 year old in my local girl scout troop. Every Spring & Every Fall we took some sort of group trip that was overnight to somewhere else. This was how I managed to see more of Europe than the rest of my family. So this was just before Halloween and arrangements were made for us to travel to West Berlin and stay for the weekend. This was back in the day when Germany was still divided between East (Soviet) and West (Democratic), and thus so was Berlin a divided city.
At the time, there were really only two ways to travel to West Berlin. One could fly in to the West Berlin airport directly, or one could travel by train. The girl scouts & I were going to go by train. Before the trip, my parents drilled into me, "Stay with the group", "Don't get seperated", "Know where the scout leader is all the time." Pretty typical instructions, but with an added layer of anxiety & importance to them. Fast forward over a decade and I learned from my mom, that my brother & I had been serious kidnapping targets during our time in Germany.
This trip, the next 72 hours, was a life changing experience for me. 27 years later, I can go right back to where I was, what I saw & heard, and how I felt. This was my first real encounter with a world that was not a nice place, and I experienced what it felt like to not be truly in command of one's self.
Politically, since so many people were still trying to flee from East Germany & East Berlin, the train service in & out of West Berlin only traveled at night. I remember my troop boarding the train, and as we tried to find our compartments, we had to navigate around East German soldiers with machine guns & very un-friendly German shepherds. My smaller group & I reached our compartment & our parent chaperon got us settled and started gathering paperwork. About this time, the guard stopped at the compartment & demanded our passports. He also insisted that the window blinds be drawn & cover the window. We were told in no uncertain terms that the window was to remain covered all night. I was terrified that I wouldn't get my passport back. I was terrified of the big guard & especially his dog who growled at every little noise. As we made up the sleeper bunks, I thought to myself that there was no possible way we'd all get to Berlin in one piece.
We did though, and it must have been quite the sight with about 15 to 18 girls and a handful of adults all clustered together at the railroad station. We relocated to guest housing without any difficulties and the next few days were a whirl wind of activity.....
OK, I'm tired -- it's been a very long day. I promise the rest of this tomorrow.....