Time Travel5:18 AM
There are many things I enjoy about living in Europe. The cafe culture, the fascinating accents and varieties of people, food, styles and mindsets but the thing I most admire is the walking culture. Two years ago, you could not have dragged me outside for a ten minute walk let alone say, a five hour one. You see where I come from, one's chances of being raped, murdered and dumped in the L.A. river are heightened by a good 70% when one steps outside one's own doorstep. The temperatures are oftentimes soaring far above the 100 degree mark and the ever beauteous, delightful scenery of cacti, dirt and tumbleweeds leaves much to be desired. So, you see, it is simply the dictation of the survival of the fitest that in such an enviroment, the intelligent one's simply shut themselves inside and hardly ever see the light of day.
Here, however, I cannot seem to abide an entire day spent indoors. A short ten minute walk finds me along the edge of the mighty Main river with its constant array of ships from faraway places. Ancient bridges arch gracefully over its crashing waters as the mist from the pounding waves almost sprays into the faces of the sternly overlooking statues. The Cappella (chapel) on the hill is shrouded by dark, endless forest while its neighbor, the Fortress Marienburg shines brightly and magnificently against the crisp blue sky. The icy wind catching drifts from the river blows through my hair and in that moment I am perfectly content, peaceful really.
Wurzburg is certainly not the most beautiful city in Germany nor the most culturally relevant and yet its appeal is distinct. The Germans here are of an ancient race, the Franconians, with their fascinating dialect and memories of an empire toppled only by Napolean Bonaparte himself. The Northerners are quite a different species altogether, chosing to embrace the present and all its wonders with very little hint of the old world. But here, in the south, where men still walk about in Lederhosen and women in Dirndls without the slightest chagrin, the past is as deeply imbeded in their souls as the present. Ancient cobblestones on windy streets echo with the sounds of horse drawn carriages and the gardens surrounding the palace are haunted with refrains of walzes by Beethoven and Strauss.
It is of little consequence to these people that their families have lived in the same regional area for upwards of hundreds of years. Their lives and those of their neighbors are so intricately linked and intertwined in one extraordinary chain that traces through the past and connects many of the great events and times of the world. And yet, to them it is simple. What has been has always been. And what will be is what has been. In a world changing and progressing and degressing at a rate faster than the tides, these people remain much the same. I struggle immensely with this concept. Coming from a people who consider uniqueness and individuality a thing to be embraced, where one can count the number of years lived in a city on one hand and where people find their own personal past in as close an amount of countries as a street dog fathers, I find this link between past and future utterly astounding. Something happened in our great country; a wonderful thing in the sense of its forward thinking and yet a sad thing; when our first ancestor came over to this new land, the chain was snapped, the ties were broken. The past and the future were now no longer an unbreakable string to be repeated and continued, a whole new era had dawned where one's past no longer defined oneself. It is one of the great glories and tragedies of America. We do not base our judgement of you on where you come from but as well we do not know who you are. It is a land of great opportunities as this is a land for those who perhaps like a look back. And so, I find myself, much like a time traveler, who must adjust one's thinking in order to avoid discovery of who they really are. One living in the present!