09 November 2009

Historic Moments Revisted

Returning from a delightful and long overdue retreat with my husband to celebrate our 10 year anniversary, I paged through the news to what was happening over the weekend while we blissfully "checked out." A picture of a women standing in front of Checkpoint Charlie 20 years ago with hope-filled eyes and a charming smile brought me back.

I was sitting in "German for Foreigners" at Universitaet Salzburg on my year abroad when classmate, Elena Cooney, handed me a note. I opened it to read the words, "Do you want to go to Berlin?" Having woken up late, I had not read or heard any news, but nonetheless always up for an adventure. My response was, "sure, why Berlin?" Her simple response started my heart racing and lead to plans being made and us deserting our unfinished class. "The wall came down." Was all she wrote.

We agreed to rendezvous at the train station as soon as possible with bags packed for the weekend and passports in hand. We made it as far as Munich before we realized that we were not the only ones with the same intentions. Not a spot on a train to be had heading in that direction. Despite our disappointment, we settled into our pension and headed into town to be feel the buzzing city that soon would become part of the united Germany.

Just to be a part of the moment, to feel the vibe of freedom, was truly exhilarating. There were Trebants "zipping" around with their lawnmower-like engines and folk flowing in from the former Eastern block. We settled into a funny little pub called Zum Bärin. We sat drinking Jägermeister with a priest from Czechoslavakia and dozens of others who were newly arrived "on the other side" for the first time in over 40 years. Being part of such an historic moment was like nothing I have ever felt before or since.

I made it to Check Point Charlie a couple of months later. I chipped my obligatory pieces off the wall to keep as souvenirs. Crossing the border I was welcomed with smiles and open appreciation of my being an American. (Something I had not felt before then.) I was fascinated by the sharp contrast between the two sides, one so vibrant and new and the other so gray and deteriorated. I look forward to returning to Berlin to see what I understand is a completely transformed and exciting city.

Where were you when The Wall came down?

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