Home > Uncategorized > Twenty years ago today…

Twenty years ago today…

I was a child riding in the back of my daddy’s grey Cadillac with my sister by my side. We were barreling down a tree-lined boulevard within a mile or two of our home. Dad was listening intently to the radio, and all of a sudden, he turned up the volume and said

Listen, girls. This is history. You’re too young to understand now… but someday, you’ll be proud to tell your children you were alive on the day that the Berlin Wall fell.

The words didn’t mean a thing to me, but the look on my dad’s face, and the gravity in his voice, gave me pause. I tried to get it, to look solemn, and to make him proud of me.

Later, of course, I learned about the deprivation, the cruelty, the triumph. It meant more then, and I thought I was horrified at it.

At twenty, I backpacked alone through Germany, making special stops to explore Dresden (a citystorydreampileofashes that has always haunted me) and, of course, Berlin.

You know, you can still see a difference between the East and the West sectors. The East is a little more spartan, pockmarked in places; there’s a McDonalds restaurant, though, and you get the feeling that East Germany didn’t finish getting dressed for the party and now that it’s there, feels a bit out of place; a little naked.

The remnants of the Wall, of course, are a shrine now. I crouched down and laid the palm of my hand against what was left; it’s more graffiti than it is wall. And it’s thinner than I had imagined, a poorer barrier than its reputation suggests. The “Iron Curtain” was mostly an idea.

Which of your ideas impoverishes you? Which separates and distances you from the life you want to have? Bear down on it with enough rage and enough determination, and you may find it somewhat weaker than you thought.

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