Mittwoch, 26. Juni 2013

Yay! My personal crisis and breakdown anniversary is coming up!

Beautiful, isn't it? Typically scenic Germany beautiful... Picture postcard beautiful... Makes me want to puke beautiful! This is Bad Königshofen im Grabfeld (that translates literally as: "on the graveyard"... and it's about as lively as the name suggests!). And it's the one place in Germany where I'll never set foot onto again - despite my father being buried there.

It was this place, my parents had chosen as their retirement abode. They had consulted a map of Germany indicating immission data, for living in a less polluted area than our native Ruhr Area. Plans were made to move, as soon as I had graduated from high school. And that was planned to happen on my elder brother's 30th birthday, on June 27, 1987. Well, that birthday has lost the largest part of its charm since then. And, for more recent reasons, it has lost all of its charm altogether, and I haven't been in contact with him for about six years now. But that's a different story.

On the evening of that day, after arriving at my parents' new apartment, about 500 kilometers away from where I grew up, unloading and setting up the first items of furniture and boxes of stuff from the rented truck, crisis and breakdown happened to me. The oh-so-happy mood of the my brother's then wife (now an ex-wife), of my parents and my brother caved in on me, as I was sitting in a place not just worlds apart from where I used to live, from where my roots were, from the place I called home, but (and that was the main reason for my nervous breakdown) separate from the woman I loved.

She and I had become friends, as soon as she stepped into the classroom at my high school, attending a cooperative course shared with another high school in town. She made quite an impression on me, but it took more than a year, until we came together as more than just friends. That was in the disaster-laden year of 1986 (the two most famous disasters being the explosions of space shuttle "Challenger" in January and - with more effect on our personal lives - of the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl in April). Do I hear someone sigh "Ahh, young love...!" and smile nostalgically? True, we both were young, but still, I felt that this is the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with. So typical, so cliché, so mainstream, isn't it? Staying together with your high school love...

Therefore, when it dawned on me, that I would be apart from her for at least fifteen months (the duration of my compulsory Air Force tour of duty - it used to be compulsory and that long back then) , I couldn't stand it, yelled at my family to give me room to be alone. When it was time to go to bed, I rolled myself up to a fetal position and cried myself to exhaustion, waking up next morning feeling tired and hollow.

Three days later, I was still suffering from the aftermath of my nervous breakdown. July 1, 1987 was the day when I embarked to begin the tour of duty, which had detrimental effects on my personality, as I developed an emotional callus in order to fight the insanity of the whole military apparatus. I wore masks, feigning to feel alright, while inside, I was still in pain for being apart from my roots and my beloved. We wrote letters to each other, talked on the phone, but it wasn't the same. And even meeting once, during a short leave I had, felt like we had been apart in more than just distance. Still, I clung to my dream of being together with her again, as soon as my military service was over. My plans and dreams were to begin college studies to graduate as a teacher, and eventually shape a life together.

It turned out differently, of course. We decided to split a while after I had returned, she later married a childhood friend of hers and has since then pursued her career as an oriental dancer and successful dance teacher, leading her own dance school and studio until today. She's doing fine, she's happy with her current life and I wish her all the best. We're still friends, and she values me as one of the dearest persons in her life. That feeling's definitely mutual, too...

So, what is now making me feel miserable enough to lose hours of sleep and weep bitter tears about things long past now? First of all, it's the anniversary of that day creeping up on me. For me, June 27 has lost its charm since 1987. Secondly, the current cool spell with grey skies and temperatures more typical of October than June are adding a note of Summer Blues, too. In that respect, it's quite similar to the Winter Blues I had in February (I described it in this post, earlier this year). Thirdly, it's her posting a nostalgia picture of her standing next to her then boyfriend's and now husband's old car (an ugly, box-shaped late 1980s Audi... at some point, cars became ugly on terms of design), with her captioning it: "The car is gone, but the man is still with me...". Like I wrote, I wish her all the best and I don't begrudge her the life she's living now. And this picture is only the smallest piece of this puzzle.

One larger piece is what she told me, when we were last discussing the past by mail, several months ago. It seems, that we had indeed communication problems back when I moved away from home with my parents, although we kept in touch by letter and phone. She thought, that in fact we had already split up on that very day when I left my home town, on June 27, 1987. I, however, still clung to my plans and dreams and my decision to get back into my home region was not based on returning into Ruhr Area for its scenic qualities... I wanted to return to her and be with her.

So, now considering her sentiment and thoughts about when we broke up, I cannot help but feel as if my life from October 1988 on was merely based on shattered hopes and false dreams. I don't blame her. Not at all and never! But, to be honest, it makes tomorrow feel like the grim anniversary of "Flush Your Dreams Down The Drain & Let Life Trample Over Your Heart Day"! And even though I don't regret how my life has unfolded, for quite many events and people in my life have left wonderful impressions, I cannot help that feeling of failure and the grief based on that. It's all too easy to quote those "let go" and "leave the past behind" epigrams... Doing so is much harder than you think.

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