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June 6, 2012
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A single tear started to fall down my face. I was sitting on my scarlet bed with the burnt orange blanket that was once my grandma´s. A second tear followed, but not because I was sad. Not anymore. It was because I was angry. I was angry at my parents for getting divorced after their 17 year relationship and 12 years of marriage. I was angry at myself for being so hurt.

It started out as one of the best weekends of my life. On Friday afternoon at 3 o’clock, right after school, my friends and I met at the main train station in my city. I was early so I had time to absorb all the things around me. I remember the nice smell of “Joey´s” pizza restaurant at the dirty corner next to the crowded “Blume 2000” flower shop. I looked around and saw ads for the new strawberry crisp Ritter-Sport chocolate bar. I heard the loud squeaking of arriving trains, the hard work of the engines starting from the other trains leaving to big cities like Berlin, Munich, Amsterdam or Paris.

After finally meeting up with my friends, we took the train heading west until we arrived at a small station called Othmarschen. It wasn´t close to being my first trip without my parents, but it was the first time in my 15 ½ years that they let me do something with just friends and not any adults. We were not all familiar with each other when the trip began, but I was sure that would change through the days. The whole weekend, we just hung out and had fun in the snug, little house next to the small church in town. The first evening, we cooked a really exclusive and special meal, noodles with red sauce and chocolate pudding as a dessert, and on Saturday evening we had a hotdog-eating contest. Later in the night at two in the morning, we woke each other up and played three long rounds of flashlight tag in the dark woods behind our house. It was good that we didn´t find out that we had played our game pretty close to the small graveyard around the church—at least one of us would have been scared then. The time passed quickly and after 48 hours without our parents, we were like one big family—full of energy and laughter. At 3:00pm on Sunday it was time to take the train back to Hamburg - the loud, crowded city with over a million inhabitants. We promised each other to stay in touch and reunite once more on another weekend.

When I opened the dim, light blue door to my parent´s apartment, I looked into the welcoming smiles of my parents and smelled homemade “Käsespetzle”, a traditional south German meal that only my dad can cook perfectly. The Spetzle dough is similar to noodle dough, cooked in little drips in a big pot of boiling water for about 6 ½ minutes. After it has cooled down it is roasted in a pan, then mixed with little onion pieces and Emmentaler cheese till it is gold brown. It tastes so good that I eat at least three full plates every time my dad cooks it. After the three of us were full I got up to empty my backpack from the weekend, but my mother grabbed my arm and told me to sit back down. She didn’t smile anymore, and her eyes looked a kind of sad. Both, my mother and my father looked older.

“Well, you know I got this new job last year in July”, she said. “And I met Gundi and Petra and all my new colleagues at work…”

“Yes, and…?” That was my answer; I knew all those things, I´m not blind to my mother´s life. So why… - a terrible thought crossed my mind. Something was really wrong.

“I don´t know how to say this. You know that I had all these changes in my life…”

“Mom! What´s the matter? Make your point!” My words sounded tough, but inside my heart froze.

“Your dad and I are getting divorced.” Now she had finally made a clear point but I didn´t want to hear this one. “I´m so sorry… It is just that…”

She tried to fix the mess she made. To be nice and gentle and make me understand, but I didn´t want to. I couldn’t even cry; I was too shocked. The ironic thing is that my mom was crying like never before, even though she was the one who left my dad. He just sat there, hunched over with his shoulders drooped. His eyes contained a hollow sadness as he stared down at his hands that were clasped in a tight grip. He seemed at least 10 years older and didn’t speak one word.

I still remember how I ran to my room, grabbing the old black cord-phone from the wooden corner shelf down the hallway. I called my best friend Elena and talked to her for more than two hours, even though it was late. I finally started crying and I had no idea what I should do next. I heard my parents knocking at the door to tell me sorry and give me a million kisses and hugs, but I locked myself inside my bedroom, not comfortable to get touched by either of them.

Instead, I looked around my room. Right over my messy and chaotic desk I see the old Harry Potter 2 movie posters, which I never took down in the past years after I stopped being a “super fan”. On the right side next to it, my bright window with the bordeaux red drapes and a look out into the grey dark backyard our apartment houses. On the other side of my bed is my small blue closet and my black Ikea “Billy” shelf, which can hold barely all my books and picture frames of all the happy moments. On the top shelf to the right is a picture of me. In the background a green Christmas tree with shiny candles, my parents surrounding me to the left and right. I hold my new black MTV media phone in my left hand and everybody is smiling happy. It is hard to imagine that it was only a month ago.

After another hour, I finally decided to go into the small bathroom to get ready for bed because I still had school the next day. During all that time there was one question that was stuck in my head: Did my mom leave us because she fell in love with another man? Did she cheat on my dad and he finally found out? Would I get a new step dad in the next couple of months?

It took me twenty more minutes until I made myself go into the wide kitchen. The table is clean except for the green glass bottle with a bunch of fleur de lis inside. My mom stands by the silver sink in the left corner of the open room and is cleaning the dirty dishes from supper. My dad cooks, and my mom or me is cleaning up. My mom cooks and my dad or me is cleaning up. That was always our unspoken deal. With quiet, little steps and red eyes I finally made my way from the dark hallway into the kitchen.

“Kathrin.”

My mom looks up while she peels off the pale pink plastic gloves she always wears when she touches the brown dirty water. She knows that I am mad at her because I usually never call her by name.

“Oh honey!” She opens her arms to give me a hug but I step out of her way. She doesn´t try to come closer again and looks just into my grey-blue eyes.

“Mom… why do you leave Jörg? Do you have an other boyfriend?”

“Oh honey! No, it is not because of another man. I promise you. I just think that I need a life change. There is so much going on at the moment…”

“And … since when did you two talked about that?” I said matter-of-factly.

“We started two weeks ago, but we finally decided that we are getting divorced this weekend, when you weren‘t at home. But let me tell you, one of us is going to buy the new apartment in the Arnoldstraße so that you will have a solid home and the other one is going to find a nice apartment really close to this one, so that you don’t have to travel so long. Besides, no one is moving out till both of us find something new and that will take a few months. I really hope that your father and I can stay friends. Oh sweetie, it is harder for me that you think. I’m still not sure if it is wrong!” And she started crying again.

“Yeah, thank you,” was all I answered. She ruined everything she said with her tears again. How could she cry when my father didn’t? My shoulders dropped back down and my head lowered in sadness as I walked back into the safety of my girly room where I crawled into bed and pulled the blanket over my face.

I remember that my dad came into my room one more time that evening, probably to tell me sorry, but I pretended to be asleep. I knew that there was no reason to be mad at him, he wasn´t the one who broke up their relationship, but I didn´t wanted to start crying again in front of him or get hugs as the weak girl who is left behind.

I remember the next five days after this terrible weekend as the following: The first two days I was shocked, of course. I was too sad that my parents weren’t in love anymore after all these past years together. The third day was my “realization” day. I realized what happened to my life in the past two days and that nothing would ever be like it was before.

Thursday and Friday, the only thing that I felt was anger. Anger for my parents because they destroyed my whole life with only a few words. That I didn’t have a home anymore and everything would change. And who exactly would buy the new apartment that my parents decided to build with the construction-association? Did I really wanted to live there with only one parent? Would they ask me to choose between them? I wouldn’t be able to do that!

How could my dad cook me my absolute favorite meal before they told me about the divorce? I would never be able to eat it again without thinking about this sad paragraph of my life. I mean with every fork I will eat I will remember every second of this terrible evening. How sad and destroyed my father looked. How my mom’s melancholy voice sounded when she told me the devastating news. How I finally realized and the first tears started flooding down my face. Are parents allowed to break their child’s hearts in a way like that?

In the early afternoon on Friday, exactly one week after this terrifying dream started, I sit on my scarlet bed and begin to cry because of my anger. I feel so bad, even though I am normally always happy and untouchable. Wait, that´s the thing! Why should I let my parents destroy my life? Why should I stay angry and depressed the whole time? I should make the best out of it! If they say that the apartments will still be close to each other I won´t have to travel a lot and I won´t have to decide between my mom and my dad. Also, a new stepdad or stepmom would enlarge my family and what´s bad about a cute new sister or brother? I would get more attention from both my parents, or in a better way, get more presents for Christmas and my birthday! Ok, the last part was just a joke. I can truly imagine how my mom will talk with my dad on the phone:

“I´m going to buy Luisa the new book of Trudi Canavan and the cute little plaid purple dress with the short sleeves I saw. Are you going to buy a laptop case for her new MacBook Pro and the special coloring pencils for her art class in the museum? Remember, not too many presents at one time! We´re celebrating Christmas because Jesus was born and as a holiday of love, not to get a lot of presents.”

Yes, I can imagine that situation. Instead of crying like my cute, little baby cousin Juli, I start to laugh. I am not the type of person who stays sad for long periods of time. The positive things always outweigh the negative parts.





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