Hey it is offically Christmas here in Austria and for the first time in my life, I am not spending this early morning at my mom's. I generally sleep at her house and wake up at like 4 in the morning to see what my "Santa" gift is, a fabulous unwrapped gift that appears overnight. The stockings are also full of candy by that point which I will get intimate with real quick, eating Mr. Goodbar's and cream-filled chocolate statuettes in a daze as I stare at the tree.
This year is, well, the complete opposite of that. I am awake though, at 5 am our time here so I guess some things don't change. Joel has never missed a Christmas at home either so we decided to do whatever the hell we wanted over here as strangers in a foreign city. It has been an exciting prospect, deciding what we want to eat and do. We are sort of grown up versions of Maculay Culkin in Home Alone, left to our own devices.
We arrived yesterday evening (technically the day before yesterday I suppose, the 23rd) a wee bit burnt out. We had a 10 hour train ride from Berlin, which we had only 13 hours to enjoy from about 8pm to 9am, so we decided we weren't gonna get a hostel and instead we were gonna party our asses off. We meandered about for hours, through seedy bars, snowy parks, down streets with Hamburger in the name, wherever our frozen toes took us. I made it til about 2am, got sleepy, got coffee and a kebab, perked up a bit, got sleepy again (I am officially getting old....it's so sad). Amazingly we ended up 10 minutes walking time from the train station which was damn good considering our utter lack of any information or directions whatsoever ha ha. When we got there we tried to sleep in the FREEZING, drafty train station which didn't really work out. Damn Berlin in December, you're effing coooold (duh I suppose, but shockingly so!).
Anyhow, it was a long night and a journey to Vienna the next day. When we got here, we were beyond stoked. Katie is letting us live at her home for a few days though she is in the States, and it has been absolutely perfect. We have dishes and a bed and a TV! And computers and warmth and relaxing. We get to hang out with each other and not have to worry about making reservations and we can eat stuff that's not in our backpack. It's super super super wonderful (Katie if you're reading this, you are a goddess).
So for Christmas Joel and I decided that we would make a hearty stew with pasta, have some garlic bread, maybe bake some cookies, and have jello shots. Activities on the non-existent agenda include movie watching, popcorn eating, and game playing (Cluedo! Which is Clue European-style). We set out to acquire provisions this morning, wandering aimlessly, and ending up in a little supermarket that turned out to be Muslim (see extremely awkward encounter when we asked about alcohol. The lady looked like she was going to shit a kitten. She was like, "no no I don't know where to find that!" like we asked for slow-roasted fetuses or something). Nothing else was open besides Muslim shops due to Christmas eve except of course for a little Slovekian bar. We wandered in to ask about other stores & ended up staying for a beer which was probably the best decision we've ever made.
We were there for like five hours (we left at 6pm ish, ha ha ha). There were about 6 guys in the bar and this gorgeous bartender who couldn't speak a lick of English (she did know "fuck you" though, which turns out is international!). They all know each other and love American rock (NIRVANA! We listened to a ton of Nirvana! On Christmas eve! In Vienna! Bizarro and so lovely) and all of us ended up doing like 7 rounds of mysterious liquor shots (known only as "Averna") and they taught us some German. Also I was getting my dance on, of course, and two of the old school Austrian gentlemen decided to teach me how to waltz and do a box step, and it was really precious. I bought our little posse a round and thanked them all profusely (gushed, in fact) for letting us be a part of their evening, in this bar which felt a bit like a private party, and for being so nice and hanging out with two young displaced Americans on Christmas eve. They were embarassed, perhaps because they did not have people to be with or places to go besides here. The bartender had some Slovekian friends come in who brought food, and they discussed how their families are far away, so it seemed we all had a family-less Christmas in common.
Toward the end, one of the guys came up to Joel and I and said, "Remember this feeling forever". He couldn't speak much English but he said it very clearly, smiled and walked away (not without also telling Joel that I am super :). And I am so glad he said that because he is so right. Here I am, in this beautiful country, at this beautiful time, with this person that I really truly love intensely and enjoy immensely, who I am committed to. He and I got to spend the afternoon doing what we love best, talking to each other about everything under the sun. We spent this Christmas eve drinking beer, rocking out to White Snake "HERE I GO AGAIN ON MY OWN! GOING DOWN THE ONLY ROAD I'VE EVER KNOOOWWNNN!" which we decided is our song, rolling cigarettes, with floating discussions about work and men and women and when we live together in the summer and parenting a cat properly...... And when we finally made our way out we came home and cooked dinner and chatted more and layed around, and I held his hand and put my head on his chest and... I want to remember this feeling forever.
Merry Christmas, wherever you are, whatever you do. Be with someone you love and make it really good.