A college buddy of mine (who by the way runs a totally delicious blog—seriously, looking at it makes me want taking a bite out of my computer to make sense—just published her first e-cookbook, Puff Pastry at Brunch, which you should all check out) forwarded me an email a few weeks ago. It was an email I had written to her after first deciding to move to the Wagenplatz in Frankfurt. It was so fascinating to hear myself describe my life and my decision (particularly the negative comments some friends let off that I had completely forgotten) that I wanted to share it with you too.
Writing this I had just moved back to Frankfurt from Dresden, had been re-hired to teach English at the same school I had worked at pre-Dresden, and was staying with friends while searching for an apartment. Not so very long after writing this, I would be meeting the Beard. So, want to know what it’s like to have just decided to live in a teeney tiny house in an intentional community in Germany? This is what it was like for me…
Hello hello lovely ladies,
I hope this finds you all well. I’m back in Frankfurt. It feels like I’ve been go go going nonstop since I arrived which feels good, yet strange, hectic, yet refreshing, and well, rather stressful actually. Every time I come back to this city I get sick (another sore throat and cough as of yesterday, awesome). I shouldn’t be surprised. My doctor told me that a lot of people develop lung problems when they move to Frankfurt. It’s as good a reason as any to get the hell out and live in the country, tell you what. Dresden spoiled me a bit. I missed Frankfurt like fuck, and I’m really really happy to be back, but Dresden is a much greener city, with much cleaner air. Add to that the fact that I’m neck deep in reading Endgame by Derrick Jensen, and well, I’ve been feeling a little claustrophobic since I’ve been back, as if the concrete is going to swell up into giant waves and swallow me at any moment.
Which is a very big part of why I’ve decided that I’m not going to move into an apartment, but buy a Wagen and live at the Wagenplatz (Borsig, for future reference) here. A friend has been trying to convince me to do this for a long, long time, and I was never quite ready to take the plunge, but now I am, and oh oh oh, I’m really excited. I found a Wagen on the internet that I want to buy; it’s seven meters long, finished with rather attractive looking wood paneling on the inside (if i do say so myself), and has the wood stove and whatnot already inside. And according to the seller, has no leaks. It looks like shit from the outside, but I’m not so much concerned about that, as long as it’s dry and heated. And the cost will be about the same as what I would have paid for one month of rent. (Note from Future Nikki: I so didn’t end up buying that Wagen. Shit, I don’t even remember looking at that Wagen. And like many Wägen on the internet, I bet it turned out to have some secret Money Pit-esque flaws.)
This move is going to mean a lot of things that are going to take a while to get used to and that are sort of making a lot of my friends raise their eyebrows in shock and surprise and well, be generally non supportive. It means 1. no electricity (I can install solar eventually if I so desire) 2. no bathroom (this will vary depending on where I end up, and I’ll probably build an out house with a compost toilet eventually) 3. heating with wood, cooking with a gas stove, and a number of other details (hauling water for one) that closely resemble permanent camping.
One friend’s comment when I told him a few weeks ago that I was considering moving to Borsig: “Oh nooooo. No no no.” Another friend said: “What? You can’t be serious? I hate pseudo 20th century hippies.” Almost all of the reactions I’ve gotten have been defensive, as if my decision to live this way is an attack on other people’s choices, simply by being. Which is aggravating because I’m excited as fuck, because this is the way that I can live and feel really good and relaxed about a whole bunch of things, and this is the way where I don’t have to work for anyone besides myself or on other people’s time schedules or worry if my writing is making money, I can just make money from a few hours of teaching a week and make money from writing when I can, and when I can’t, just enjoy it because it is what I love to do. Woohooo!
Oh and so you can get more of an idea of what a Wagenplatz is like, don’t think trailer park, think boxcar children. God I loved those books. When I was a kid I always wanted to live in a boxcar. And now I’m going to do it. Sweet.
Soooo. Woooo! And moving! And Wagens! And spring is coming! Lots of happy changes in the air. My first class is tomorrow. Should be interesting. It’s a one on one, whew. I was excited about teaching again before I got back, but one day in the office washed that right off. Remembering the whole “we’ll make this all seem like some best of times great interactive learning bullshit, but it’ll really be all busy work and not nearly as useful or practical as you thought or would have wanted to pay for” and then re-hearing the entire “I moved here because of my boyfriend but I fucking hate germany and everyone in germany and germany sucks and on and on” attitude that almost all of the teachers that work there have.
Anyways, apprehensive about working and getting burned out again very quickly, but by then maybe I’ll have escaped to Mainz (Mainz is an hour train ride from Frankfurt, aka pretty close by, doable on bike in an hour and 45 minutes). I never thought I’d agree with that part of Anonymous Friend’s plan. (Note from Future Nikki: My friend had wanted that I move into a Wagen in Frankfurt where she already lived, and that we then both moved to the Mainz Wagenplatz together, as she was always singing this community’s praises. I ended up following the plan to a “T” but she didn’t get a “yes” at the time from the Mainz community, so she did not. Awkward situation, but our friendship survived it.) But let’s just say the idea is growing on me. Especially because they have what I’ve heard is a fantastic communal kitchen with internet and vegan voküs every day of the week. Yihaw.