And a ship will come and sail us away. And we stand there with our overgrown hands, like siblings who have reached the end of childhood at home, finally prepared to climb into the shrouds and prepare for signing up and sailing. And father takes this sailor’s photo of us one last time, here in the living room. And we look at him, and he looks at us, and from the kitchen comes Mother. And in her eyes there are tears, and in them like a mirror, we see this enthusiastic wall unit of tradition (and of the Orient) behind us with the books and pictures of our youth and we try to decode them and reassure them, the years, the ones behind us and the ones to come. This is a maritime still life. This is a lonely sea that we are looking into in front of us and that we are about to sail on to measure the world and ourselves.
But one day, we will return from the endless melancholy of dreams and ocean pictures to our own wives, who will come out of the kitchen and cry too, quite classically, when we set up our sailing boats in our own living-rooms for our own children later. And when we do, we will suppress our tears and this is also what this photo is about. Rainer Totzke
Letter to G.
I found this slide. In a cardboard box with old teenage books. Just the sort of odds and ends that you pack away, not wanting to throw out souvenirs from journeys, the records you no longer listen to and home-made things from the past. There’s no need for them any more but there are memories attached to them. Somewhere in amongst it all, in this box, I found this slide. Father probably took it and it disappeared for a while into his collection. Maybe I took it out secretly because I liked it – I don’t remember exactly.
But it’s got us on it. Standing next to each other. Me, with my typically sad expression and you, smart with a new shirt on, ready to go out, probably on a date with friends as usual at that time, and in fact, that’s when you met M. then.
I remember that I read books at the desk that had grown much too small. We got that old furniture from our parents and we furnished our teenage rooms with it as best we could. Look, here’s that wall unit of cupboards with books from our childhood. R. Crusoe next to K. Marx, then the golden and black spines of the row of encyclopaedias containing the discoverers and explorers of or our world that neither of us ever read in entirety although it was a present to us both.
And above on the left next to the ship are the two porcelain penguins. They were a present from K. She liked us both. Sometimes, I saw her looking at me secretively when she visited but she looked away quickly. Then you were together with K. for a summer. I read, and wrote letters that I never sent. K., who leant her head to one side when she laughed.
And there, on the shelf is the Underground sign too. You brought it back from your trip to England. I was pleased because I thought you’d dismantled it from a station. I only sent you a postcard later from Ireland.
I’ve kept many of the books. “The Stupendous Adventures of Marco Polo”, too. I dreamt that we sailed on the seas, survived adventures and discovered countries. Sometimes I still think that we could have travelled the world. Just the two of us, you and me. We were far away from each other and yet the same and always different.