Monday, September 21, 2009

Finden Ciocia Zosia

[ Finding Ciocia Zosia ]

Friday at school was agony, sitting at my seat and waiting for the day to be over. It was as if I was back in the second grade anxiously waiting with my Halloween costume on in class at Wass Elementary School for the festivities that would take place later in the day. Sitting in German class was no different, with the windows open welcoming a cool fall breeze into the room, crunchy leaves already paving the sidewalks, and my packed backpack, not filled with books, but instead clothes and some toiletries for the weekend. I was ready to go.

I think that I have already addressed my unfortunate relationship with public transportations, so I must admit that I was a little nervous at the end of the school day realizing that I had to utilize the bus system for a few stops to Johanneskirsche - the center of downtown Saarbrücken - and take that city train to the Saarbrücken train station. From there I had to get onto another train and take a short 13 minute ride for a mere 2 Euros to the next city over and meet my carpool at the front of that train station. Easy enough if you have it all planned out... but after school I only had an hour to do it all. Feasible, but one mistake and everything would be pushed back.

The journey to St. Ingbert hauptbahnhof [ the train station ] had me antsy, and I still had to run into town and buy some flowers for Ciocia Zosia - banking on the fact that I make it to her in one piece [ I hadn't met my driver yet...]

Luckily, the flower purchases and the preliminary travels went alright. I actually did miss my train to the next city - I didn't realize that it wasn't going to be the name on my train [ That would obviously be the final destination of the train , Chris, not you... ] but the next one came in only a few more minutes, and I made it to St. Ingbert on time.

Once I was there, I gave Ciocia Zosia a call - I was now leaving a bit later than my ride with Agnes was going to be, so I told Ciocia I would be late - and after a bit of waiting, the red vehicle with Ralph and another rider pulled up in the red Mercedes A-Klasse. I shook hands hello and thanked him once again for the late call and addition of me in the carpool.

I really will never know how good their English was, or if they even really knew much English at all, since in the car we spoke only German [even when I fumbled on words or a grammar structure, the definition or correction they gave me was auf Deutsch ]

I actually really enjoyed the challenge. The setting was obviously awkward for me - I was in a car with complete strangers and couldn't really speak too cohesively with them for 5 and a half hours - but I think I kind of thrived off of the awkwardness. It had that bit of foreignness and "what-the-hell-am-I-doing" kind of feeling that gives you a bit of adrenalin for embarking on a bit of an adventure.

We chatted about random things, my background coming to Germany, Munich, site seeing in Germany, the elections, and then a little about studying in University. I was proud to follow along in the conversation and add some thoughts here and there.

Once we were talking about my plans for the weekend, we talked about me staying with Ciocia Zosia, and how ... I really didn't know how she was related to me... let alone what she looked like. The only thing she told me was

"Krzysiu, halb stunden anrufen, ok Krzysiu, halb stunde von hauptbahnhof, rufen, ok Krzysiu."

Which was pretty much grammatically incorrect German telling me to call her a half hour before arriving at the train station. I did not exaggerate how many times she said my name.

[ That is how old I was - on the left - last time I saw Ciocia Zosia - Apparently I called her Ciocia Wosia, and it has stuck until today! ]

I later found out that Ciocia is actually the daughter of Babcia's sister... which makes her an older cousin of my Mom... which then makes her my 2nd cousin? ... I don't know... At least with my family, a lot of people can be Ciocia's or Wujek's.

Once we were at the train station, I chipped in my money, shook hands - Danke- thank you, Viel Spaβ- have fun, [Viel Glück - good luck for me]- and I was heading into the hauptbahnhof really not knowing what was going to happen next.

The train station was intimidating at best. It was a huge station, and the warehouse-like terminal had many trains coming in and out from the dark entrances way down at the other end. All around me were so many people - and so many languages - scrambling around, even though it was past 10:30, since it seemed everyone was also picking someone up or arriving from somewhere else abroad to come to the Oktoberfest.

I walked to the information desk and stood there where Ciocia told me to wait for her. Now who am I looking for... a short Polish woman... because that is going to make everything easier for me. I had no idea what traits to even look for [ with my school and traveling, and the time difference, there was a bit of a mix up with my mom scanning an old photo for me and me seeing it in time...]

I decided to call Ciocia Zosia back.

"Ich bin hier, Krzysiu! Gdzie Jesteś?" [note the switch from German to Polish]

At this point I did a three-sixty, and about 10 yards away at most was a little Polish woman, with a short, sandy "Babcia-fro" [ as my brother and I like to call it ] talking very loudly into her cell phone [ Gdzie Jesteś Krzysiu?...]


I walked up to her, she caught me on the phone too, and we laughed that we were talking to each other only feet apart. After big hugs and kisses, we rushed along to catch the metro back home [ I didn't know she needed that half hour to ride the subway to me, let alone that she didn't have a car OR a drivers license?! ]


We were already having a great time chatting - I was amazed at how much we were talking about with our very bad German, but the stories and topics were just flowing out. Once we made it to her apartment [ she showed me her "Auto", the pun was that she unlocked the bike from the fence ] and I lauded her that as a 64 year old woman, she is walking, biking, sometimes running [ we had to catch that next train! ], and climbing stairs always around town as if she were half her age.

Her apartment was very tiny - only about the size of my entire family room that serves as a makeshift bedroom for me in Saarbrücken - with a small bathroom, bedroom, kitchenette and dining space. She also has a nice walk out balcony with some growing herbs and a view from the 5th floor where she lives. Nonetheless, it was perfect for her.


Possibly what was more perfect was our great evening chatting, skyping with Babcia and relatives back home [ Look at who I am with! ] and best of all - homemade PIEROGI!!!


Lucky me!

It is going to be a great weekend! Oktoberfest in the morning, and a great Ciocia to stay and enjoy it with.

1 comment:

  1. Seriously....Babcia-fro!!! LOL!!! Really cool story!!! Love the old pictures! Glad you made it safely...why does October-fest begin in September? How are you getting home? With Ralph? Can't wait to hear about the rest of your weekend and the return trip :)

    Maria K.

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