Yesterday was quite a memorable experience. I even had a lot of fun in spite of the fact that I remained significantly depressed the entire time.
Oliver’s girlfriend Lena invited me and Amanda to something a friend of hers from school (she’s earning a master’s degree in some kind of botanical science) had organised called a “Grünkohlwanderung” which consisted of a large group of people walking through the woods and drinking large quantities of alcohol. There was a three hour walk until we came to a restaurant and had a meal of meat, potatoes, and Grünkohl, which is some kind of green vegetable that looks similar to creamed spinach but tastes more like sauerkraut. The whole thing was one of the most authentically German activities I’ve ever been a part of.
The day began at 10:00 when I met up with Amanda, Oliver and Lena, and a bunch of her friends and their friends on the train platform. I was immediately introduced to everyone there, including the girl. You know, the obligatory girl whose insane beauty draws most of my attention throughout the whole day and makes me want to die a violent, horrific death because I can’t have her. There’s always that girl. This one, however, was particularly insanely beautiful, far beyond the normal level. Her name was Inga, and she was there with her boyfriend (naturally) Matthias.
Of course, I wasn’t completely smitten right then at the very beginning. I just silently acknowledged to myself that this girl would probably be the emotional centre of my day but I couldn’t have her so I might as well do my best not to dwell on her. And at first I was quite successful. During the twenty-minute train-ride I sat with Amanda, Oliver and Lena and chatted with them, only occasionally glancing over at the seats on the other side where Inga was sitting with her boyfriend and another guy and girl whose names I don’t remember. The other girl was attractive too, but I’d call her cute rather than beautiful. But she (I’ll refer to her from here on as “the cute one”) made eye contact with me a number of times whenever I glanced in her direction, so I though she might find me attractive too but I didn’t know if the guy she was with was her boyfriend or not, and I still don’t.
During the train ride, Oliver handed out little single-shot-sized bottles of liquor to everyone and I figured what the hell and I took one. This was about 10:15. As good a time as any to start drinking, I suppose. Then when we reached the town of Haste where we’d be walking, we got off the train and stood at the station underneath a little covered area where people can lock up their bikes, and drank a little more while we waited for two more people who were coming to meet us. The weather was perfect—as grey as can be with some light rainfall that came and went the whole morning. When I described the weather as perfect I think they thought I was being sarcastic.
After about ten minutes standing there and two or three shots of various people’s liquor, we headed up a nearby road to the top of a hill and the edge of the woods. There were about 15 people altogether split almost evenly between men and women, as well as one dog who I think belonged to Simone, the girl who organised the thing. The dog was a German shepherd that bore a striking resemblance to Aja, the dog my grandparents had when I was a child and whose death when I was about 10 years old was really painful. It was great to have the dog there, as she was really friendly and played fetch with a little red ball that all of us threw down the path for her at one point or another.
The first twenty-minute stretch of the walk was uphill in the rain, and after a few words to Oliver and Amanda about my apartment search I was silent for most of it. We stopped at the first bench we came to because there was a nice view from there, and everyone took out their liquor and shot-glasses and we all took three or four more. But it was all relatively weak stuff at that point so even on the next leg of the walk I didn’t feel drunk. The rain fell hardest for that leg of the journey, which made it quite lovely. It was a relatively warm day anyway, so the rainfall was just absolutely perfect.
Before we knew it we came to another perfect stopping place, this one at a crossroads deep in the woods with a little wooden structure—three walls made of logs and a bench. Out came the liquor again, and now we all took four or five shots, including some harder stuff like schnapps and vodka. We stayed there for a pretty good length of time. I played with the dog a lot, throwing the ball this way and that. When we were ready to go I was now finally starting to feel tipsy.
Before too long we came to another interesting structure—a stone tower that looked like a medieval watchtower, but with a winding steel staircase inside that led up to a height just slightly lower than the treetops. Not all of us, but a good amount, climbed to the top and drank some more. I was now drunk enough to want a cigarette, and Oliver shared one with me as we talked more. I also talked a little bit in German to some of the other Germans who were there, but not about anything more complicated than the climate in different parts of America.
From the tower it was just a few more minutes to the restaurant, and I felt pretty disappointed when we got there as I was really starting to have fun and I wanted to do a lot more walking. On the other hand, I now had quite an appetite so I didn’t really mind.
Fifteen people and a very long table. One of those people an extremely beautiful girl. Do I want to sit where I can see her and be tortured by her beauty, or a seat from which I won’t be able to see her and thus not have to think about her? Fuck it, I’ll just sit down and let fate decide where to put Inga. And apparently fate thinks that she should sit in the seat directly across from me, right next to her boyfriend, and two seats down from the cute one who is also in a position that makes it extremely easy to look at her.
For the first twenty minutes at least it was easy not to think about the girls. The potatoes and Grünkohl were just so fucking delicious, particularly after a 3-hour walk and about thirteen shots of liquor. Now I was drinking beer, which went down quite smoothly but also probably contributed to the growing depression that would soon rise to its peak.
After the meal I would occasionally chat with Amanda, Oliver and Lena but I think most of the time I was just sitting and staring directly at Inga, who never looked at me so I never had to look away. I’d occasionally shift my glance to Matthias to make sure he wasn’t noticing me staring at his girlfriend, but just like her he didn’t seem to notice at all. She just never made eye contact with me. I sometimes shifted my glance to the cute one, but she always glanced back at me and we made eye contact dozens of times but said nothing to each other. For all I know she thought I was cute but I assumed she was there with her boyfriend so I didn’t think there was any possibility with her either. But having the two of them right there had a really strong emotional effect, with the one girl I could fall in love with but never have, and the other girl I would settle for but could still probably never have. Like…I really want that girl, but a girl will do. But I can’t have a girl either.
Of course she was just so overshadowed by Inga. I spent so much time staring at her face I can’t believe nobody noticed. I was able to study it in detail, familiarising myself with every square centimetre as though it was some kind of art sculpture. This girl’s beauty was seriously beyond description. She could have any man on earth. The body was perfect supermodel proportions but it was her face that really crushed the soul. The lovely reddish-brown hair, the perfect eyebrows, cute little nose, red cheeks against an otherwise pale face, and a little beauty mark above her right lip…those beautiful lips. It wasn’t just that the face was flawless—it was distinctive, with strong features that were nevertheless as aesthetically pleasing as it gets.
She had this habit of taking her hand to her face and running her fingers along her cheeks, under her nose, over her lips…it drove me crazy. I wanted to feel what those fingers were feeling. To press my lips against those rosy cheeks, that cute little ear-lobe, and to take my tongue and lick every individual tooth in her lovely little mouth. I mean, my god. At one point, the phrase “appreciation without desire” popped into my head and I nearly burst out laughing. That might work for some kind of zen-master, but there’s just no way I can simply appreciate beauty for beauty’s sake and not was to get close to it, to touch it, to really appreciate it up-close-and-personal as opposed to just making my eyes and my imagination do all the work.
The dog was under the table the whole time, and I occasionally put my hand down to scratch her face, which I did quite tenderly and lovingly. The dog became the beneficiary of all of my insatiable affection for Inga.
After awhile she started getting affectionate with Matthias, which naturally drove me even crazier. The guy seemed nice enough but also like the most boring, typical, normal-as-normal can be German guy. This girl could have anyone in the world and she chose him. And of course he showed no signs of appreciating it. To him she’s just a girlfriend. A normal accessory to his normal life of normalness. Normal guys have girlfriends, and he was the epitome of normal. Were it not for her obscene beauty, she probably would be too.
I was in a really weird mental spot between that emotional torture and the drunken joking-around of Amanda and Oliver. At one point Amanda came up with this whole absurd fantasy of pitting dogs against waitresses and betting on which of the old people in the restaurant had the ugliest skid marks. Amanda said to me, “See, you’re not so strange. And besides, there’s comfort in strangeness.” I liked that expression, and I asked Oliver how one would say that in German. I forget what it was, but as I said it I glanced at Inga and Matthias, who were looking at us like we were the strangest people on earth, which made me feel distinctively uncomfortable. You’ve gotta love irony.
When we finally left the restaurant and walked back to the train station I was walking with Amanda the whole time, my drunkenness now at the point where I open up and talk about personal shit that I normally keep to myself. To be fair, it was Amanda who brought it up, as I’d mentioned earlier how I’d been really depressed this week and the drinking and walking was exactly what I needed. She just said, “So you were really depressed this week?” and I said yes, and that honestly I still am. I didn’t mention anything about Inga though—that’s something I was quite content to leave purely within the confines of my own mind—but I did mention my strong desire to have a woman. I said I don’t know whether I should just keep doing what I’m doing and dealing with it or if I should go online or something to try to meet singles and date. All she said was that dating is stupid. And when I talked about how I frequently reach a point where life is good but then the need to feel like my life is more meaningful comes around, she started to say something but then just said she didn’t know anything. She just listens. So I guess that was as helpful as it could have been, although at that point a sympathetic ear wasn’t going to be much of a help anyway.
I kept to myself on the train ride back, listening to some music to fit my mood, and when we got back to Hannover we—me, Amanda, Oliver, Lena, and two other random guys—said our goodbyes to the others before the next item on the agenda: drinking at an Irish pub where they’d be showing a big rugby match between Ireland and England. I shook the hands of all the guys including Matthias. That’s actually when I asked him his name because I’d forgotten it and I wanted to know it for the purposes of this journal entry. The cute girl surprised me by giving me a nice hug and saying to me in English, “until next time.” No shit. I hope there is a next time. Inga, however, just politely shook my hand and said goodbye. I don’t think she liked me very much. She probably thought I was too weird.
I won’t go into as much detail about the pub drinking. The rugby match was actually quite exciting, with Ireland eventually winning by one point, which of course made all the Irish people at the pub very happy. I drank about three more beers and shared a few more cigarettes with Oliver and Amanda. Alan came at one point, and one of the random guys left. The other guy was the guy who had been sitting with the cute girl at the restaurant and who I assumed was her boyfriend. I wanted very much to ask Lena about her but I didn’t want to do it in front of that guy in case my assumption had been correct. I kept wishing he would leave, but when he finally did, Lena left as well.
When it was getting late, Oliver asked me if I wanted to head back to my place to end the day with a smoke. But just as we were saying goodbye, Lena came back for some reason so he decided to just go home with her. While we were walking down the street I did ask Lena what her friend’s name was but she must not have heard me right because she said a guy’s name but before I could follow up we reached the point where we had to take different turns to get home, and I gave them hugs goodbye and stumbled back to my place. When I got inside I promptly collapsed on the floor and started crying, or doing something like crying but without tears or anything. I then smoked and listened to the same depressing song five or six times in a row until I was about ready to pass out.
And that’s what happened yesterday. It was a worthwhile experience in every possible sense, and I had a lot of fun. But apparently having a fun, worthwhile experience is not incompatible with feeling soul-crushingly depressed. Honestly, I do enjoy my life. I have a lot of fun and a lot of interesting experiences, but there’s always this gaping hole where physical affection should be, and sometimes the desire for that is so strong that nothing else matters. I would trade everything to have what Matthias has, an insanely beautiful girlfriend to kiss and caress, and failing that I would still be happy with any cute girl at all. Just a smooth female body to lie against mine at night would be so unbelievably wonderful, but it’s just not happening and it really doesn’t seem like it ever will.
All of which leads me right back to where I always end up: there is no hope. A life without love is not worth living. And the best thing about a loveless life is death.