We were a bit more clever on the move back to the States than the move to Berlin – mySpouse packed extra stuff in his suitcase when he would go back to the States to start a work trip. Then he would drop it all off at our storage space (shout-out to #LibertySelfStorage in Jersey City, NJ) that we’ve had since we decided to move to Berlin four years ago – for all the things we couldn’t/didn’t want to take with us like furniture, dishes, dirty laundry, bikes, art, Commune secrets (I was going to hyperlink that to another post, but I don’t seem to have written anything? Don’t worry. I will write more stuff and then forget to link it.) and books.
This worked beautifully, for a time.
And then we realized he would need about 17 extra years of back-and-forth trips plus an ‘over-the-top’ and ‘not-fair-to-anyone-but-us’ type of understanding from the employees at Berlin’s Tegel** Airport.
So we started shipping. The first box was our winter coats. We chose them because they are relatively light, and it’s summer so I was fairly certain even if they didn’t arrive for 4 months, we wouldn’t miss them.
The box ended up being oversized, and we had to ship through a service that was not Deutsche Post (the regular ‘post office’ office). (Don’t worry; I’m sure there will be other Deutsche Post posts.) Let’s just say this was more expensive than planned. We (by we, I mean mySpouse) went back to the (sucky but free!) schlepping between Berlin and Newark plan.
But with the move-back deadline approaching, and a growing number of things we were realizing we couldn’t just shove in a suitcase, we had to do something. So, we reluctantly went back Deutsche Post shipping. And shipping things that were unfortunately (A LOT) heavier than coats-in-a-box boxes.
Here’s a not-funny story. Our ‘get-by’ German has gotten much better (broadly speaking) – even at the Post. When we brought our final four boxes to the post office to be shipped, the postal employee looked at one of our contents slips, which indicated it was chock full of books*, and remarked, “Bücher? Für Bücher haben wir ein cheaper special rate. Oh vell. Nächste time.” This only makes me wish my ‘get-by’ German was terrible (which is to say, it is. Because maybe I could’ve had a conversation AT ANY OTHER POINT THAT MONTH about box contents).
Also, she said ALL of her German in German, but, as you can see from my terrible jerk-wad faux-translation, I don’t really deserve the cheaper special rate.
They are part of my core, ink and (mis-remembered) quotes running in my bloodstream. I certainly haven’t read enough, or all the ‘right’ ones. I couldn’t tell you what’s a must-read. I dog-ear the pages, top and bottom, to mark my place and to remember to look up words and phrases I don’t know. I stack them with intention and recommend with reluctance. I read in the tub. I read other people’s borrowed books in the tub. I write in the margins and comment and underline and argue with the characters and authors. I sincerely read the epigraphs and introductions – and most of the acknowledgements – and I love footnotes (at the bottom of the page, don’t make me turn to the back, you know who you are!), especially the ones that run towards the tangential. And I always finish the story, even when I don’t want to. (Here’s lookin’ at you, Tolstoy.)
I’ve been reading a lot of books about Berlin recently. You might think that I should’ve been doing this all along. You would be right.
Oh. And my first surgery in March went fine.
**I’m not a reliable witness, history buff, etc. but Tegel Airport is an interesting story. When we moved to Berlin in July 2014, Tegel Airport was (and currently still is) in the middle of a huge construction ‘scandal.’ This huge scandal is … wait for it…that construction is not finished on the new BER airport, so Tegel remains open.
Here’s some history: Tegel Airport, in the north of Berlin, was a hunting ground until the early 1900s when it was used as an airship testing facility. Used in both World Wars, but basically destroyed after WWII, it was slated to become community gardens. However, in 1948/1949, the Cold War was starting, and the other airport at the time, Templehof (non-operational as an airport as of 2008), wasn’t big enough to transport goods to the cut-off West Berlin. Tegel was once again thrown into full operation to accommodate the US-led Berlin Airlift.*** In May 1949, the USSR lifted restrictions on West Berlin, but the Cold War flames were only beginning to be fanned.****
As of this post, Tegel Airport (aka Otto Lilienthal Airport*****) continues to serve millions of people and has a huge fan base of support against its closure (including me and mySpouse). The new airport, BER, should have opened in 2012, but has been updated to 2021. Maybe someone just transposed the numbers?
***The Berlin Airlift is a whole other tangent. You should make a note in your margin to read about it and curse this author who didn’t write you another footnote.
****For that matter, the Cold War, which tumbled to the beginning of its end with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, German reunification in 1990, and USSR dissolve in 1991-1992, is also a good tangent. Make more margin notes-to-self.
*****If you are interested, google Otto Lilienthal (pronounced lily-n-tall). He’s considered Germany’s ‘Father of Flight’ and an influence on the Wright Brothers.
*It was not. But do you know the German words for ‘cheese grater‘ and ‘decorative ribbons which are unused but I wish to keep, to the chagrin of a loved one‘?
************I’m pretty sure I have royally screwed up this post by using footnotes.
Look! I can draw a picture of impending divorce. (He can’t divorce me in Germany. I think.)
Look! I can draw pictures of an ex-pat idiot committing mail fraud in the Post post office.
TAGS: #berlin, #moving, #berlintojersey, #shipping, #postoffice, #DeutschePost, #books, #igot99problemsandshippingisthemostexpensive, #footnotes, #howdoiusefootnotescorrectly, #TegelAirport, #TXL, #Tegelhistory, #scandal, #scandalhasadifferentmeaninginEnglish, #ColdWar, #OttoLilienthal, #tangents, #surgery, #cliff-hanger