I was so looking forward to yesterday. My brother was coming for a visit. He has some business in town today, so he flew in a day earlier to spend the afternoon with me and my sweetheart.
I haven’t seen my brother in three years now and had originally planned to visit him this autumn in Ingelheim on Rhine, where he resides with his family of five. But then he called two weeks ago announcing this visit. Yeah!
My sweetheart and I set up a fine plan of things to do and see, that might interest my brother. Despite it being a Monday, a city like Berlin offers lots of opportunities. In the morning, I checked my favourite weather channel, just to make sure, the weather would fit our list of activities. Everything hunky dory, no rain in sight. There was an eventuality of 10% of rain in the late afternoon predicted, with an overall rainfall of 0 ltrs/m². That was good enough for me to expect no rain at all.
Alas, leaving Tegel Airport with our treasured freight of 1visitor in the person of my beloved little brother, the sky turned gray with the first few drops falling. No worries, I said, we’d stick to our plan to head for a beach bar on river Spree. After all, agrarwetter.net had promised no substantial rain with warm temperatures. On the way to Montbijoupark, we happily chatted away, catching up on how his three sons and wife are doing and how life in general is and was since we last met. Just to step into a heavy drizzle. So we decided to head a little further down through Montbijou Park to go to Ampelmännchen restaurant. Seeking cover from the rain underneath their big garden umbrellas, we had lunch. It was warm and sitting in the soothing sound of dribble on the canvas, we watched the tourist ferry boats passing by on Spree in front of the impressive Museum Island buildings.
Our chat moved now to other family members, our parents in particular. We were making fun of personality streaks our mom has, that I don’t want to further comment here, but are very funny. As long as you live thousands of miles away, that is. We had so much fun and laughed so hard, that tears ran down my face. I thought, how great it is, to idle away a Monday afternoon with people you love. As the rain now really poured down hard and me and my weather forecast have become the running joke of the day, we decided to change our outdoor plans and visit Altes Museum instead. As we were sitting right next to it already. We figured, if we made a dash for it, catching a pause in the downpour, we could get over the bridge relatively dry, still. Good idea of my sweetheart to check the internet first, to see, whether the Museum was open at all. Which it wasn’t on a Monday.
But the Jüdische Museum was, according to its website. Since my brother hasn’t seen this impressive house yet, we opted for the drive to it. Despite the rush hour already being in full swing. We accepted the queueing, the stop and go from Montbijoustraße down Friedrichstraße into Kreuzberg taking us almost 45 minutes for a distance of three kilometers. The skies have turned real dark now, the rainfall becoming outright torrential. We finally found a parking spot near Jüdisches Museum, maybe 250 meters away from the entrance. But there was no way, to make this little run without being soaked to the bone. Luckily I remembered my sweetheart’s golfbag in the boot, with his huge golf brolly strapped to its side. So the three of us – two of which are not exactly the slimmest people on earth, namely my brother and I – huddled underneath one umbrella and shuffled up to the building. To meet a small crowd of other disappointed visitors, staring at the makeshift A4 print sign in front of the door. Announcing, that due to the Jewish New Year, the museum is closed this Monday and Tuesday. Great. This was it for cultural edification. We decided to go to Markthalle in Kreuzberg, to just drink the rest of the afternoon away until we would be hungry enough for dinner there. The best roast chicken in town.
Good plan, it turned out. The conversation turned to how my brother’s life is about to change, now that his three sons are on the brink of adulthood. His plan being, to somehow reinvent himself and his marriage, in order to adjust to the fact, that the boys will be out of the house during the next two or three years. His fine sons are 22, 19 and 16, with even the youngest having started his professional training as a chemical laboratory worker two weeks ago. The middle one is halfway through his training to become an industrial manager and the eldest studies to become an engineer in New Energies. He has every reason to be proud of his family, but the question remains. What is to become of your life, after you have focused more than two decades on raising a family this size. Being who he is, my brother worries more about his wife, who will have a hard time letting go of the boys. He says, she very much defines herself over her role as mother. He doesn’t know, how she will take this major shift in their lives. Right now, her mind is set on redecorating their home completely.
He himself isn’t that keen on all the alterations implemented and subsequent chores assigned to him. But his credo is: happy wife, happy life. The way he relates all these family stories is so hilarious. Quote: “I have enjoyed assisted living for over 25 years now and I am in no way going to imperil this comfortable situation in any way. So I do, whatever I am told. Even if that means to completely dissemble our old furniture to overhaul it, rather than getting new stuff – which was my humble suggestion. But no way, after all, what we have is made of solid wood and can be refurbished. And the cabinet for dishes now of course needs to have cabinets with doors and not drawers on the lower part of it. After I was to take the side cabinets away, why, I still can’t fathom. And yes, the grooved edges have to miraculously move from the subducted side parts in somehow. What is she thinking, that I am a joiner? However, happy wife, happy life. So I somehow managed – at least now, this piece of furniture can never be taken apart any more, with all the screws I had to use to just hold the thing upright. And I still wonder, where all the stuff went, we stored in those side cabinets so far. What exactly were we storing there, anyways?”
Thus, we had much fun until it was time to go to the concert venue, my sweetheart had scouted. A band by the name of annenmaykantereit were to perform in SO36 in Kreuzberg. We were all very much looking forward to this. When we arrived, we found a long line of young folks already queueing, many holding up signs reading “need tickets, pay well”. My sweetheart offered to somehow snuggle up to the ticket booth to find out, if there was any chance to get in. While my brother and I chatted up people, trying to talk them out of their tickets. I even tried the compassion trick, stating that we were two stranded refugees from rural Austria and would someone pleeeaaase consider to give us their tickets. All we got, was good humoured laughs from all around. So we were doomed to just go to another bar and continue drinking.
Which we did, just across the street of SO36. Lucky streak on this day of failed activities, that it was a smokers bar. Some more glasses of wine later, my brother and I finally arrived at our personal, favourite/non-favourite topic. We had successfully managed to politely leave it out of our conversation, so far. I can not understand, how he still can be a Jehovas Witness. And he hates me bringing this up every time we meet. But although I am not as fervent as I used to be, I still can’t let this pass and hope to somehow get my message through. Whereas my brother accuses me of being much more missionary than him , almost to the point of obsessiveness. I have to admit, that he is right. But I only mean well. As much as I know, that this is exactly what he does as well. Although he made an interesting point last night, saying that he is in a win-win situation. If he is right with leading this religious life, he wins, and if I were right, he still loses nothing. So at least now there exists some concept of an alternative world view within him, that might also be valid in its own right. But we still agreed to disagree. Which in no way alters our love for each other. Ever.