Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Book Club Adventures: Episode 1

I have been an active member of a local women's book club for about six months now, give or take three months (I don't actually remember when the first meeting that I attended was, but I remember where it was and what book we were discussing, a book I still haven't finished by the way.) I am the kind of person that does not like change, and I do not like doing new things. When I have done something once, doing it again is not a problem at all, but that first step is agonizing for me, and I didn't go to book club meetings for several months after moving here because I could not get myself to take that first step. Now, while I look forward to each meeting, I still have a hurdle to tackle when attending because we have them at different restaurants every month, which means that every month I have to find whichever restaurant we're meeting at (and a place to park, which can be the real challenge in Germany).

For January, we had a pretty even split for dates for the meeting amongst our members, so we decided to have two separate meetings so that basically everyone could attend at least one of them. My husband is amazing and let me attend both, even though they were on consecutive nights (I even came home to a clean kitchen that had been getting increasingly cluttered over the past couple weeks after the first meeting at the Indian restaurant.) This month we were discussing The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, which is set in France during WWII.

For the first meeting, I parked outside another book club members house and walked to the restaurant with her and a third member of our club, because parking was free and then I wouldn't have to find the actual restaurant on my own (even though I already knew where parking was readily available nearby for this one). On the way back to her apartment, I noticed a Stolpersteine (stumbling stone) on the sidewalk, because I have a tendency to look at the ground while I'm walking. Stolpersteines are placed outside of houses and buildings where people (mostly Jewish people) were rounded up to be imprisoned or sent to concentration camps during WWII. They can be found in cities all throughout Germany and elsewhere in Europe where the Nazis terrorized the local populace. It is an ongoing project, so not every life is memorialized at this time. I thought it was rather appropriate that we stumbled upon this Stolpersteine after discussing The Nightingale though.

"Here lived Wilhelm Merk...Murdered 5 December 1940"
More information on Grafeneck
Our second book club meeting this month took place at an amazing sushi restaurant with a parking garage located less than a block away. I have lived in Germany for a little over 5 years now, and I have never found myself parked in a parking garage where the gates close at a certain time, until tonight. We were all getting to the garage at 9:05 (because we were all relying on transportation in that garage to get home), and noticed a sign indicating that the garage closed at 9 pm. We missed it by 5 minutes. I immediately panicked because not only have I never taken the public transportation in our current location (so I have no idea how to get home using it), but there was a good chance my husband would need our only car for work tomorrow. K, the member that carpooled with me to the meeting, suggested that I check my heart rate on my Fitbit and it was at 126 (my resting heart rate today was 73, which I blame on being destroyed by the ending of The Nightingale which I only read this morning). 

After a couple minutes of wondering what we were supposed to do, and if our cars were really stuck in the garage all night, C noticed a sign that said "nachtzugang" which means "night entrance" with a rudimentary map that indicated we needed to go to the side of the building. The adventure didn't end there, however, because the door was locked, and required a code to enter, a code from a parking ticket. Fortunately, we had those handy. 

Once inside we discovered a stash of liquor that likely belongs to one of the restaurants above the parking garage, but no clear signage to get us to the actual garage. Then an elevator door opened mysteriously (C said she pushed a button, but none of the rest of us saw that, so it still seemed mysterious at first). We took the elevator down to the correct floor, and it was still not immediately clear where we needed to go to get to our cars. 

We finally found the garage, paid for our parking, and were on our way. The rest of the trip home was uneventful. It was almost 10 pm when I made it back to my house (I had a slight detour to drop K off at home, and live about a 30 minute drive from where the restaurant is located to begin with), and everything was dark and quiet. I only turned on a few lights, one on each of the bottom two floors of my house because I needed to run upstairs and grab the empty laundry basket to move clothes from our washer to our dryer (because our dryer does not fit in the room where our washer has to be). I happened to glance at our whiteboard and saw this message from my husband.

Need vehicle tomorrow to pick up keys for BMW also to look @cars Love you!
My panic and increased heart rate were justified at that moment. And I am truly thankful that I was not the only person parked in that garage, because I may never have figured out how to get to my car if I were. Hopefully next months meeting is not quite so eventful. - Katie 

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