Well, the jury is still out on that. Of course, I never got injured having sex. Skiing is another matter, broken thumbs dislocated elbow, several knee injuries, two concussions, last one last year with a broken nose added as a bonus.
When I arrived in Austria, I bought a new skiing helmet, the other one lived through those concussions and many falls. They say you should change helmet after each bad fall, so although am now determined to ski carefully, I bought it just in case. Of course, if I keep to the careful skiing, it was a waste of money.
Still, skiing, the speed, the fresh air, making short fast turns, the tips of my skies always facing down the hill, never sideways is exhilarating. I feel graceful and free.
On top of that, the snow covered spikey mountains are very beautiful.
So when I am skiing like this morning, on the steep freshly prepared piste, in sunshine, I would pick skiing over anything.
My problem is that I have never been able to compare sex and skiing properly. I usually ski with friends, not lovers.
I am here with a very good female friend. Eva is smart, fun to talk to. We disagree on many political issues, the migrant crisis, Israeli politics, life style, but we respect the right of the other to her opinions and we never argue.
Well, we do argue, all the time, but there is no hostility or malice. I remember those lectures I have on my iPad about “The History of Argument”. The author, an American university professor, talked about argument being not the negative aspect people believe it to be. That a true proper argument is possible only among people who are open to other opinions, and are willing to listen and possibly even change their opinion. So with Eva, it works. Fortunately, neither of us is committing the sin of presenting opinions as facts.
I am having a great time.
During the day, we ski, talk on the lifts and in the mountain chalet restaurants, and in the evening, we both sit with our laptops in the room, and don’t really talk any more.
I write emails, chat to various people, look at the news, Eva plays scrabble on her computer.
We are comfortable in silence.
Being here made me realise that there is a beauty in being able to be quiet with somebody, just occasionally exchange a sentence. The silence is friendly, not awkward.
And it made me wonder if I could and should do it more when I see my partner, a man I love but don’t get to see enough. When I do see him, there is never much silence. I am a woman of many words, and there are so many things I want to talk to him about…
Well. Maybe next time, I will try to shut up a bit… Famous last words. LOL
Maybe he should come skiing with me. Maybe skiing makes me easier to live with.
I am in Cologne. It is a nice city. All that history, from the Roman times. Must have been even nicer before all those precious old churches were destroyed by the Allied bombing. But, as my German friend Hans said, it was the Germans that started it all. And copies of those churches are here now, to remind us.
It is strange to be here. I have known Hans for 40 years. He was my first love. Did not last long, he was a West German student spending two months in Prague on a work experience. Then he left. But our friendship lasted through all those political changes, our marriages, and our divorces. We are close. I came to visit and meet his new partner, a nice, intelligent, kind, sensitive, very polite, and rather formal woman, who is everything I am not. She is petite, blond, reserved, polite, anxious, quiet. I am dark haired, sporty, loud , bold and direct, and very chatty. Nothing shy or reserved about me.
She must think I am an alien.
But like Angela Merkel, welcoming all those migrant aliens in Germany, Anneliese welcomed me in her home.
She is working, so I spent most of the time with Hans, talking too much in my German full of grammatical errors.
He probably finds me a bit too much, too. But I am also a good listener, despite being so talkative. So Hans told me lots of things, too.
We both feel it is so great we can tell each other anything. We spoke about my Jewish family and what happened to them, his family and his unease about the Nazi past of his father (nothing dramatic or terrible), we speak about the similarities and the differences, history.
There are a lot of similarities, the Czechs and the Germans are neighbours.
I bought a book “How to be German”, written by an Englishman. It is very funny. Some things reminded me of the astonishment of my English friends about my habits and life. One example was my double bed. My American lover was rather puzzled by the ridge in the middle. Two mattresses, two duvets.
As the book said “what it lacks in nocturnal romance, it more than makes up for it in practicality, the most prized of German possessions.”
My lover asked me if it was something continental. Now I KNOW it is.
Yes, I am an alien here as I am in England. But the more I think about it, the more I believe that we are all similar. The cultural and other differences are much less important than what we have in common . Hans, despite what happened on New Year’s Eve in Cologne believes that Angela Merkel is right, and that welcoming migrants is a good thing. I believe it, too.
I have now lived in England for almost 30 years , that country which is so different from the rest of Europe, I love an American, I had patients from all different countries and cultures. The most enthusiastic two readers of my book are a black gay man and a young Indian Christian woman, a writer.
I can talk about my murdered grandfather and other relatives with a German man without either of us feeling awkward, and he can talk about the difficulties of being born as a German after the war. I can be close friends with men and women, gay and straight.
We can love our differences and feel close at the same time.
And I dream about the time when we can all do this. The Israeli and Palestinians, Christians and Muslims, Europeans and Americans, men and women.
And I remember Kipling’s:
“We are of the same blood you and I”
Hans and Anneliese, thank you for reminding me of all that. By your generosity, tolerance, sense of humour and the way you embrace our differences.
Did I stay relaxed in the time closer to the day? Nope. I got my annual panic. When a supermarket shop assistant asked me how I was, I replied: “Stressed, I am cancelling Christmas next year.” I said it with a smile, so she thought I was joking. Was I? Nope. Seems that no matter how much I try, I cannot avoid Christmas preparations getting to me.
But in the end, it was nice. Of course, I made too much food, bought too many presents, wrapped them in my usual messy style- lots of sellotape.
And then I relaxed, enjoyed my family, put on weight, skipped my exercise routine…. well, I’ll get back on track.
I started writing again, too. And the more I write the more I realise that although I want my books to be read and enjoyed, it is not the main reason for my writing. Putting my thoughts on computer is fun. (I almost typed “on paper” but nobody, including myself can read my handwriting).
or “Silvestr” , as we Czechs call it, has always been important for me. Maybe it is because ever since I was 13, I always celebrated ” Silvestr” with a skiing group in the mountains, and not with my parents. We had a party, and we were all allowed to stay up till midnight. Very exciting when you are a young teenager.
So a party with friends on that day was always one of the nicest days in the year.
40 years ago, I met my husband on New Years’ Eve. Of course, we are divorced now. But most of those 40 years were good. And we managed that oxymoron, an amicable divorce.
In the past two years, there was no party. I had just one visitor, my lover.
And I can see no better way of celebrating this day than a lazy evening, talking, drinking wine, making love last time in the old year and first time in the new year. Going for a walk on New Year’s Day. It was raining, but we still did it.
What will 2016 be like?
Will I finish my second book?
Will I stay healthy?
Will I do something good, something which will change somebody’s life?
Will the world become a more accepting, nicer place?
I decided not to stress so much, and it worked. This year, I perfected the art of ” I don’t care, let’s just enjoy a disorganised Christmas” even more.
This year, I have not been fretting and shopping at all, well, not yet.
Normally I always used to get into my “Christmas funk “as my American partner calls it.
I used to worry about the food shopping, presents, the queues in the shops and traffic, gifts wrapping (I am useless, and when I wrap presents, I look like Mr Bean, covered in sellotape almost as much as my parcels). I got stressed, overworked, invited too many people, and ended up close to tears wishing I would fall asleep and wake up in the spring. Or maybe wishing for my family and friends abandoning me so that I could go skiing and somebody else would make me dinners.
Last year was better, I relaxed, cooked less, and had a nice and quiet Christmas with my adult children. Nobody starved, and everybody was happy with their presents.
I am learning.
Well, this year is different again.
I am no longer working, although I am travelling so much and having so much fun that I wonder how I ever had time to work before! I am enjoying my newly found vision, and have an interesting, fun life.
As far as Christmas goes, I am so laid back this year that I am horizontal.
I have almost no presents, no food organised and we will most likely have no presents and go hungry. I do have enough red wine, but one of my children is teetotal! I will have some Christmas cookies from Prague.
My close ones are the same. One does not have the flight home fixed yet, the other always buys the tree on Christmas Eve, and I don’t have a clue what I am doing on New Year’s eve and Day. I’d like to visit my partner in America , but he does not know yet if he will be there! He might be somewhere on business!
But does it give me palpitations like in the past? Nope!
I am slowly learning to relax, and make “game time plans”, to use one of many sports’ metaphors of my American man.
And yes, it might all end up a complete disaster, but you know what? I doubt it.
I think we will be happy to be together, have more than enough food, and lots of fun.
As my wise children said when I asked them what they want for Christmas: “A mother who is not stressed ” Well, they are getting one this year, probably covered in sellotape.
I wish you all a very nice Christmas, and a wonderful interesting 2016.
And NOT interesting in the sense of that infamous Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times”
Last time I came here to the same hotel, it was with a friend. It was fun, but recently, I decided I prefer beach holidays on my own. And to be fair, my friends most likely prefer their beach holidays with someone else.
That is not the case of holidays in general. I like people, talking, spending time with them. I have an unusually large circle of friends, in fact, many circles.
So what is it about me and beach holiday that makes me antisocial?
I read, and read, and read. I can happily spend 8 hours barbequing myself in the sun (yes, I KNOW it is not healthy, I am a doctor) and reading. In between, I swim and go to the hotel gym. On my own, listening to my iPod.
I am sociable around dinner, only to turn into a hermit again with my laptop connected to the hotel Wi-Fi.
“I am not going with you anywhere unless there is no Internet connection.” said one of my friends.
She is a wise woman. If I was her, I would not go with me either.
So after dinner, I type emails to the friends that are NOT with me, chat to my workaholic partner in America on Google hangouts, tweet, blog, read the news, especially tennis results. By the time I switch off my computer, any friend that is on holiday with me is fast asleep.
So yep, I have decided I will go on my own.
I can read, sunbathe, swim and spend hours on my laptop without anybody telling me off.
So here I am. Sardinia is very beautiful, the rocks look like some castles or old cities, very rugged. I go to the gym which is a room with open spaces- like a veranda, just roof and large holes in the wall overlooking the sea. It really is stunning. The hotel with the gardens, small beaches and several small swimming pools , it is as nice as I remembered from the time I was here with a friend. Yes, the one who was fast asleep while I was busy at my laptop. It is in a small place, but there are enough nice little restaurants with sea view.
Last time, I created a bit of a stir in one of them. I had pasta with prawns in a lovely open air restaurant overlooking the sea . My friend had pasta with meat. They gave her Parmesan, and I was surprised when the waiter did not offer me any. I thought he forgot, so I asked.
He looked at me with horror!
“Parmigiano? With fish!!!!????? You cannot eat Parmigiano with fish, signora! “
It seems that it was a culinary crime.
“Humour me, I am a foreigner, and I love Parmesan on any pasta. And prawns are not fish anyway!”
With a theatrical sigh that would not be out of place in La Scala, he gave me Parmesan.
But in two days, when we came back to the same restaurant, I had lasagna.
“NOW you can have Parmigiano, signora!” he said. But he said it with a smile.
I bet he was telling his family about a bloody foreign woman who does not know she is not supposed to have Parmesan on fish dishes. Outrageous!
I am tempted to go to the same restaurant tomorrow, order some pasta with fish and see what happens if I ask for Parmesan. If they do not say anything, maybe they have given up because of me! Living dangerously.
And at east, there won’t be any friend with me to feel embarrassed!