Since I’ve been in Europe, I’ve taken a lot of pictures. About 1700, if my iPhoto can be trusted.

Some are artsy, some are some are touristy, some are just plain beautiful, and some are pretty blurry. I also have a strange fascination with bears.

Some have people in them, some are just of landscapes or buildings, some are taken to document an important site or event, and some are taken because of a bad translation or inside joke.

I’m glad I have so many pictures from my time here. I’ve done so many unforgettable things, and experienced so much that I don’t want to ever forget. Now, I have these pictures I’ll be able to keep forever to remind me of my time in Germany.

But so many of the most memorable things I’ve done, happened when I didn’t have my camera. Kind of a shame, really.

So I have no photographic evidence of the time I decided to go do my Cultural Studies reading by the Dreisam, the little river that runs through Freiburg. It was beautiful. I also ended up observing a few adventurous souls’ decision to ford the river, so to speak, shortly realizing that they were extremely ill-prepared to do so. Hilarity ensued. But no pictures were taken.

I also have no photographic evidence of any of my Gemeindeabends at the KHG. Every Wednesday, there’s a Mass followed by dinner, and it’s where I’ve met most of my German friends, had the best German conversations, and gotten to try really good food from all over the world. One week we had authentic Indian food prepared by visitors from India, and my friend Konstantin and I single-handedly led our table to victory in a trivia game. Last week my friends and I made quiche for everyone. Between the quiche and dessert, we used about 6 kilograms of cream. It was a bit ridiculous. But still delicious.

I wish I’d had a camera today when I was studying in the coffeeshop down the street and a little bird hopped into the store and started flying around. But I didn’t.

No pictures exist from the almost 20 hours I’ve spent on the floor of train cars in various places throughout Germany. As uncomfortable as it sometimes (ok, usually… always) is to be forced to sit on the ground for such a long duration, especially after one has hypothetically been viciously sunburnt in Berlin, having to get up and move one’s luggage every hour or so in order to let passengers on and off the train, I am actually quite proud of this. I feel like such a vagabond. Plus, it’s way easier to sleep when there are no seats in the way. Gotta look at the sunny side.

I’ve done a bunch of other fun things with my friends that I haven’t documented, either… going dancing at the Jazzhaus, playing a silly game involving bouncy rubber eggs and oversized dice, having so many “grillen” barbecues (with GRILLED FETA. I am bringing this back to America because it is fantastic), going to really lame dorm parties, making pico de gallo to expose ignorant Germans to the ways of Tex-Mex food… but there are no pictures of any of that.

It’s kind of a bummer. But I constantly remind myself that having photographic evidence isn’t the be-all-end-all of life experience. That’s hard sometimes… I’m the person who isn’t in any family vacation pictures because she’s always the one taking the pictures. And I’ve learned over the years that sometimes it’s actually harder to enjoy life when you’re looking at it through a viewfinder.* I know that all these things I haven’t been able to document on paper or electronically are still in my heart and in my head. And in some ways that’s better.

*Just ask John Mayer.

PS. Facebook won’t let me share this website, but this page sums up my thoughts exactly!

2 thoughts on “undocumented

  1. as picture-crazy as i am, i wholeheartedly agree with this post. sometimes, raw memories are just better. 🙂 i’m so glad you’re having a great time in germany. it sounds like it has lived up to all of your expectations and more! can’t wait to see you again, love.

  2. I completely agree, too. That’s probably because I usually am the one who forgot her camera and so I hardly ever have pictures of places that I go. I basically only have stories in my head to tell to others.

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