Sometimes, caught up in thinking about where I have been, where I come from and where I would like to go, I neglect to consider where I am. This is especially the case because it is with greater ease we offer up what it is we don’t have, rather than what it is we do. Lamenting Weiden’s size, its lack of ‘scenes’ and neighbourhoods, the stretch of its Altstadt coverable in the time it takes to open a bottle of wine is something I do all too often. And something I do at the expense, and I say this with head-bowed regret, of etching into my consciousness, the good about where I am.
Yes Weiden is small, but it is also sweet. It is quaint and cute and the buildings are all brightly coloured like flavours jostling for space in an ice cream shop. Yes the Altstadt could fit in the palm of my hand, but that’s manageable. A night out involves merely zigzagging across a cobbled rectangle. And I can safely say I know, without a doubt, where the best coffee, the best Greek food, the best schnitzel and the most abominable house wine can be found. And I cannot honestly say that about many places in the world, except perhaps an even smaller village on a very small island.
Weiden is completely different to anywhere else I have lived or spent extended periods of time – Sydney, Santorini, Münster. It is a whole new experience, culturally, aesthetically, gastronomically, linguistically, historically, environmentally. It is absolutely nothing like a harbour metropolis of millions, Mediterranean island or north-west German city of students and churches. This is another corner of the world and I am within it.
As I write, the bells of two nearby churches are going off, seemingly of their own volition and without reason or rhyme. Weiden and its bells, the sounds of which will always make me think of this funny little place, won’t be forever. In time it will become ‘this town I used to live in’, my first (and, maybe only, who knows) experience with Franken, Bavaria, and all of its habits and idiosyncrasies. So I must remind myself not to wish it away, not to pass the time looking elsewhere for fuel and food, not to lament it so. Not to see it for what it isn’t (big, bustling, international!) but only for what it is – itself.