- posted: December 23 @ 8:45pm
Sophomore year of college, I had been dating this girl for a couple of months and she was hosting a birthday party for me, but before the party I had to go to a meeting for an group I was organizing whose goal was to design, build, and then staff and operate a boarding school in the Cyclades for politically-stateless orphan children. At that meeting, I met this woman from Germany who was in the States as an oper and taking a few classes on my campus and, actual truth, I fell instantly head over heels in love at first sight. After I'd only been talking to her for like 10 minutes, my friends dragged me away to go to my birthday party, where I broke up with my girlfriend so I would be free to date this woman I was in love with, even though I didn't even know her full name and had no idea how I'd find her again.
So the next day, I went by the office of the professor who was behind the whole school for politically-stateless orphans idea to begin with to see if he knew anything about this woman who'd shown up at the meeting, and there she was, in the hallway outside his office. She'd decided to go find him to see if he could tell her anything more about me.
We were together pretty much nonstop for the next couple of months, until I had to go to Greece for the summer to work on building this school. I spent 6 weeks building a cistern and walls and preparing to replant an olive orchard, sleeping every night on my sleeping bag spread on the floor of an ancient threshing floor, staring up at the most amazing night sky I had ever seen. I read _Walden_ on a mountaintop on the island of Andros. Water was so scarce that I took exactly one actual shower the whole time I was there--mostly the closest to clean I got was just from swimming in the Mediterranean.
Then I came home and found that my girlfriend had been finally accepted into uni back home and had to return to Germany, like immediately. So I drove her to the airport and put her on a plane and then set about making plans to transfer to a German university and to live there with her. I went to a conference on philanthropy and managed to sit down to talk with the guy who was then the head of Greenpeace for Europe, I the founder of the Green party in Germany if memory serves me correctly, and I told him my story and asked for help. He was incredibly nice and had lots of advice. I also had dinner with the Crown Prince of Liechtenstein and his girlfriend and they were also helpful and quite cool. But they all told me it would take some time to get everything arranged.
Then I spent basically every penny I had left after my excursion to Greece to by a plane ticket to Germany for winter break. I flew over there and my girlfriend's first words to me when she met me at the airport were "You didn't cut your hair." I was like, "Um ... why would I have?" and she explained, then for the first time, how her mother was going to disapprove of me, that she was already really skeptical because I was some silly American and that I really should have known enough to cut my hair. The next few days basically were just a whole lot more like that. My girlfriend back in her native Germany was an entirely different person than she'd been in America, way way more uptight and materialistic. She broke up with me after I'd been there about a week, but I had no place to go and no money, so I spent the next 4 or 5 weeks still there with her, mostly hanging out with her younger brother, whom I had become friends with when he'd visited the US previously. It was a very awkward, very painful Christmas and New Year. Everything stayed amicable with her, don't get me wrong, and I did have a lot of fun in many ways on that trip--it was the first time I ever went skiing, for example, and I got along really well with her brother--but it was a very difficult trip.
When I got home, I found that I had accidentally packed into my luggage this sweater, which had belonged to my ex-girlfriend's departed father, which she had loaned me while I was there because I had brought with me all the warmest clothes I owned but, having spent almost my whole life in South Florida, all the warmest clothes I owned were not really even close to appropriate for winter in Bavaria. She was supposed to be coming back to the US again for a quick visit pretty soon thereafter, so I wrote to her and asked if I should ship the sweater back or whether I could just give it to her when she was in town. I never heard back from her and have never had any contact with her since. A while back, I did some googling and couldn't find much of anything about her, but her brother is some sort of really bigshot international copyright attorney.
The sweater itself is not especially ugly, though it's not exactly beautiful either. But it's a pretty bad Christmas sweater story, enit?