6 Swedish Musicians
"You are the miracle of my day. Thank you so much for your amazing playing"
How did they react?
"Oh, wow, thank you! We really appreciate that!" Smiles. Laughter. More smiles. Then they played on.
How did I feel?
Hey there, non German natives! Here's a challenge for you: My favorite German word. It's Kehlkopfkribbeln. What was that? Say it again. (I bet you're doing a great job, keep going!) The closer you are the more the word will feel like what it expresses: A tingling in your voice box. It's the combination of K and that crazy German R that provokes it. But the pronounced one can be nothing but a copy because the actual Kehlkopfkribbeln only crawls up your throat when you are most passive. Saying something will prevent it from happening.
Alright let's be honest. Here's the thing: I made that word up. But I didn't make up the sensation, I promise. I have experienced it more than once. I know it exists even though I haven't met a single person who knows that, too- up until now. So if what I am about to describe sounds familiar to you holler right away! Please.
I don't get it often. Once every six months if I am lucky. Sometimes it stays gone for four, five years. But lately it's been around quite regularly: A few months ago when the Kebab guy took all the time in the world to fix my snack. I watched him take cucumber after cucumber and place them on the bread in full devotion. He was in love with the food. His eyes full of respect, his hands eager not to break a single one of the tiny pieces of vegetables... So careful, so slow. There it was, Kehlkopfkribbeln. A few months earlier I'd seen a hairdresser combing a woman's hair. The hairbrush had moved down that head in the most cautious way, as if she was trying to straighten the hair without losing a single one. It was more of a caressing than a combing.
Today it happened again. I was walking down the canal. The last thing I expected was good old Kehlkopfkribbeln:
Being the tiredest person in the city- 15 hours of sleep in four nights is not enough- I was on my way home. Traveling, moving, writing exams- sometimes it all comes together.
Inside I felt the big yesterday. Closing my eyes I saw the Rhine and the hills. And I tasted Kölsch. Strolled through Ehrenfeld, Cologne. I have become fond of that neighborhood, it's been good to me. In my mind I wrapped my arms around someone I love. He's there, I am here. Opening my eyes again I realized how much I missed him, and everything else. Change is a weird thing. Suddenly all I wanted was a bench to sit down at. Be held for a second or two. Then I heard a sound. I turned my head and saw some people under a tree. It was dusk, their faces were covered with the tree's shadows. I counted six people, five with instruments, one without. They had a mandolin, a base guitar, a washboard, a guitar and an accordion- and a bench close by. I realized this was my spot. I lay down on the bench and the musicians gave me everything I needed. The Kehlkopfkribbeln was triggered by the mandolin's fine twinkling. My throat opened up. My shoulders sank down, I felt the bench under my back. I realized how tense I was when it started releasing, every bar softened me a tiny bit. Note by note the Kehlkopfkrabbeln grew and after 3 songs brought in some backscratching and a fine shimmering on my chest, all conducted by these people's music. They meant what they played. There was a lot of winking and poking in their tunes- it was Swedish folk- but every now and then the singer's voice softened and her guitar tickled the mandolin slightly. For 45 minutes these people and their music were strong enough to carry me and gentle enough to wile a tear of mine. It rolled down my cheek and fell on the grass. I let it.
When the singer started to bring on some rougher words again I sat up slowly and looked around. My fingers started snipping. Another passer by had started dancing. She did a modern dance improvisation, behind her the canal lanterns' reflection moved in the water. It was paradise.
I thanked them all, the complimenting went perfectly easy. I knew it was going to because I'd heard them play. They told me they're from southern Sweden and have just started playing together. I'd never have guessed because their vibe was so positive and amicable! I chatted with them for a bit, got some tips for Scandinavia where I'll be tomorrow, then left. My body was still glowing with all these sweet sensations. The world around me had changed, too: Suddenly I realized there were sunflowers everywhere! Some people must have planted them next to the canal. They are blossoming fully right now, in late September! I couldn't believe it. Stopped again, was grateful. Saw the water, smelled some weed. And found a poster someone had glued to a lantern:
"And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk