Saturday, August 12, 2017

Den Haag and a Memory on the Beach

We took the train for a couple of days at the beach before heading out.  Caroline’s family memories have been with us – from Vienna to Poland - and throughout the trip.  Blue skies in the distance, we sat for lunch before heading out to the beach.
“My mom used to come here a lot.  Have I told you my story about her here?” she asked as we sat, looking out at the water.
“She used to fly back to Germany every few years.  On one of those trips, say thirty years ago, she flew to Amsterdam.  When she landed and got to the train station, she started to panic and blacked out.”
“It’s a lot of memories coming back here,” I chimed in, referring to her experiences in Dresden during the war. Much of our trip has been about encountering the memories of the war, the places she found herself after surviving the raids as a child, foster care, and coming to the states with all those memories.  She never quite knew what to make of her life in the states and the world beckoned.
“So she passes out,” Caroline continued. “And wakes up in Amsterdam.  They had taken her somewhere, not to a hospital, and dropped her off.  Her money and her passport are gone.  So mom starts walking.  She doesn’t know what else to do.  She just walks. And this man talks to her.  Starts to tell her how to survive on the street.  ‘You find out when people are about done with their meals in restaurants.  Go in.  And eat before they are done.’  They become friends.  And he tells her where to sleep on the trains. The next day, she finds herself on the train to Den Haag.  Apparently, a lot of the homeless people come her as there is a beach.   She finds the nude beach where she can bathe.  She meets another man, who says she can sleep with him. So she sleeps at a camp with him for a few days. And they become friends.  She finally calls the states to get some money wired and finds a way to get money sent.  She never went to Germany. Instead, she went back to Den Haag every year to see her friend.”
“What a story. There really are angels in the seaweed.”
“She was always open to talking with people, even people she met in the street.”
“She was a social worker.  She could talk with the homeless people.”
“She was always open to people.”
“The angels out there that most of us can’t see.”
We toasted to Regina and her stories.
And spent the next two days playing on the beach, jogging, and relaxing.  Number two worked on her backward handsprings.  Number one and I walked on the beach, talking about growing up, thinking, writing, living. On one beach I think of a lifetime of beach trips.
“This kindov reminds me of Coney Island and Cape Cod,” she reflected, pointing to the beach and the Ferris wheel.
The water felt great, once I beat back the cold.
We brain stormed about titles for my novel.
Swimming I thought about Kafka’s aphorisms and the novel I’ve been reading, Hideous Kinky, both lovely stories.  I hope to write like them over the next year, penning two or three page ideas about the world per year. two of three pages per year. Life is full of memories.  In my experience, many of the happy ones have been on the beach.

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