Last time I wrote I was living in Hamburg, describing one of three unique features the city embraces -- the fish market.
I told you my next email would move on to the second attribute, which I'll keep my promise to. It might be more difficult now, though, since I just moved to Innsbruck, Austria. With that in mind, I'll explain the current situation, and finish Hamburg's Top 3 Bests next time. Maybe.
I'm staring at around 30 pairs of skate shoes in the hall. Right now, the second most breath-taking snowfall I've seen in my life is outside (somewhere in Norway is the first). My Dutch roommate Patrick is curled up in a small chair, concentrating very hard on The History Of Boardsports. It's a funny sight, Dutch people are the largest bone-structured white people in the world.
An Italian flatmate keep shuffling back and forth in the hallway, passing our opened door each time and quickly turning his neck to catch a glimpse of us. We must seem boring -- well like I said Patrick might look amusing -- but I'm cross-legged and hunched over on my bed writing this email. Still, Italian flat mate Maurino is compelled to look over and smirk.
When Maurino smirks, he looks like a full-on Italian, and right now super blazed on ganja. Still, the slight peek of his teeth project classic character stains only a 30-someting snowboarder from Turin can display. I haven't talked to him much yet; he's been away filming snowboard comps across the European continent and just returned yesterday. This morning, around 9a.m., Harriet and I were brushing teeth in our cramped bathroom that somehow fits a sink, bathtub, two people and a washer. Maurino, over six-feet tall, was able to stick his upper-half in the room and sway his arms around the floor as he tried to work the washer.
The washer. Not only is the door stuck and motor shot, but the cycle is locked on soak -- if one were to open the door I'm pretty sure water would rush out like a flash food. Maurino puts this together in his head as I brush, and pretty soon he's crouched on the bathtub wall yelling to the thing, "What the fuuuuuck! I need to wash things. Man, come on man." I can't turn around to look at the washer, I can just quarter turn and sit myself next to Maurino. Colgate foam in my mouth, I try to console the bare-backed Maurino as he cries, "I really have nothing clean to wear." In reality, I was really just trying to place my footing in the spaces to get out the bathroom.
I left for work this morning and Maurino was sitting at his desk, still shirtless.
Tonight, I always look up as he shuffles by. It's not because of Maurino per se, but because of what he's wearing -- the loudest, brightest, shocking yellow hoodie I've seen. From the corner of my eye, it looks like a giant yellow chick-a-dee is pacing through my flat.
When I arrived two weeks go, Ludi had no idea I was coming. It's problematic -- she's the one who more or less runs this flat. I stood in front of iron gates, nervously asking into a crackling speaker box, "Hi, um, I think I'm supposed to live here?" We met face-to-face in the doorway, both surprised to see each other. Her eyes gives me the once-over.
"Who sent you here?"
Ludi nods, points to a door and disappears into the largest area in the flat, her room. I soon find myself standing in a room with three beds, a surfboard, a dresser painted in Rasta colors, the skeleton of a Vespa and two human-size duffel bags I've lugged from Hamburg. Soon after I walked into Ludi's room; I thought it was the living room. By the time I realize what was up, two massive rats with thick pink tails scattered across my feet. I stumbled back and gasped in shock.
These rats scooting around the room were Ludi's pets, Siegfried and Roy. In fact, Siegfried loves daily outings and bike rides. "I'll keep him against my chest and he'll stick his head out because he loves the wind against his face," she once told me. "Wait, against your chest?" I asked.
Ludi studies a sort of bio-chemistry I'll never understand. Paper scraps and backs of envelopes cover the kitchen table -- all covered in doodles of figures impossible to wrap my head around. She's tough, a worldly women with a perfect image of mountain-living Austrians. Minus the yodeling.
Patrick is my roommate. Yes, I share a room with a 24-year-old dude from Utrecht. He reminds me of a flatemate I use to have in Denmark named Potter. For example, he says things matter-of-factly. Like matter-of-fact, he has a girlfriend that was a little nervous about us sharing a room. Matter-of-fact, being able to say "Dui" and "Ein bierje" does not mean I know Dutch. Matter-of-fact, he was very sorry today that his dirty clothes stunk up our room.
Like Pottter, he also stutters a bit on his English. Patrick doesn't say much, and often looks up as he talks.
Patrick and I blend into one giant student who works and writes their thesis on the same company. We rise and sleep at similar times. So far, it's nice to have a pal in the same boat, even in a literal sense.
In respect to his girlfriend, I look away when he strips down to his boxer briefs before bed.
Also in this mix of tenants is Jason, my editor and an Englishman who has been on hiatus ever since I got here. He's in Europe somewhere, asking me how the bunnies are and others about mailing his monkey suit to him. Bunnies, we have two rabbits that live on the balcony. They go by many titles; each person who lives here has their own name for the furry duo. I've decided to call the one with mane-like front hair Keith -- he looks like Keith Richards when the wind wisps his hair a certain direction. The other, well I want to call him Coon because he looks like a raccoon, but I think I'll stick to the nonracist connotation of Rocky.
And there you have it. This is mag camp -- Maurino, Ludi, Patrick, Jason, Siegfried, Roy, Keith, Rocky and I. For at least six months I'm based here, writing my thesis and working for the largest pan-European snowboard print and online publication, Method Magazine.
Location: Innsbruck, Austria, a city surrounded by over a dozen ski areas, a mecca for winter sports, hasn't received one snowfall since December. It's almost April, and a storm expected to drop up to four feet on the slopes is underway. It's the warmest and driest winter the Alps have witnessed for over 1200 years -- and this weekend I'll be shredding pow lines deeper than, the size of me.
Audrey "Lights out at 9!" Sykes