Sunday, April 15, 2007


Went to pick up my new sofa yesterday, a stylish red thing I bought on ebay. The Lover and I picked it up in Plauen, about a 2 hours' drive from Dresden. The sofa's description had been done very professionally, so I was surprised when the guy who sold it led us to a house where he stores all kinds of junk - and said sofa. He claimed that he had moved in with his girlfriend, now they have two sofas and don't need this one any more... But then again, he seemed to have no idea of how to assemble the sofa, he didn't seem like someone with a girlfriend (although that is, of course, hard to tell), and the sofa looked suspiciously new and unused. I guess it was one of those fallen-off-the-back-of-a-lorry type items on ebay where it's better not to ask too many questions. All I need to know is that the sofa is lovely, can be folded out as a guest bed and can accomodate two people sitting up or lying down.

When I was a child growing up in Western Germany, the names of cities in Eastern Germany had an exotic ring to me:


I knew that they were far away and hard to reach. The farthest away place I knew was Africa, and so I imagined that there were elephants in Jena, palm trees in Plauen, girafes in Weimar and a wide open savanna in Pößneck. We went to visit relatives East of the wall several times, going through frightening broders with mean guards, machine guns and barbed wire - it only contributed to the adventure I associated with the East.

Now that I live here, I am sometimes still disappointed to find that life in these places that once seemed so alluring to me is so very normal, boring even. Plauen was a case in point.

Out of my childhood list of East German cities, Jena is the one place I haven't been to. And maybe I shouldn't go. My mother was born there, and really, I would like to continue imagining it as I used to: an exotic, mysterious, dangerous place just out of my reach.