A strange creature at Trachtenvogl
The creature stared at Jay through the display window in the entrance of the coffee bar. With its duck snout, goat horns and squirrel body, the least Jay could say was that it seemed like a curious little animal. He couldn’t help but feel connected to the thing. He too felt awkward and out of place. Jay shuffled away from the display case and up the stairs to the main room of Trachtenvogl. It was a coming-and-going of people in the coffee bar. Although it did not lack space, the weekend morning left no table unoccupied. Many hopeful customers entered, idled a few minutes and, unable to find a space, left to find their luck elsewhere.
He had decided to go out and create a home. Trachtenvogl seemed the perfect location to start.
Jay decided not to give up that fast. He took a few moments to practice and slipped through tables and chairs to a couch with a free spot. “Doaf ik hier sizen?”, he stuttered to the couple occupying the other side of the chair. The two looked at him as if he had just posed a complex math question and in his despair, he switched back to English. With a positive answer and a smile for his effort, he sat down.
It had been two weeks since he and his girlfriend began their studies abroad in Munich but he felt far from at home. No friends, a strange language, people who seemed distant… Jay found it difficult to adapt and to be at ease in the city. So he had decided to go out and create a home, to find a place he could call ‘his spot’. Trachtenvogl seemed the perfect location to start. He nestled deep into the pillows of the couch, opened his laptop and let his fingers fly away on the keyboard.
In between a cuckoo clock and a deer
„… und noch ein koaffee biette“. He glimpsed over his shoulder as if he expected the other customers to give him a standing ovation. After a month and a half in Germany, he was only now finally able to order his coffee and be understood. That in stark contrast to his girlfriend who seemed to soak up the German language like a sponge and felt perfectly at home in the capital of Bavaria. As usual, Jay sat in his favorite corner of the bar with a full view on the busy upper floor of Trachtenvogl.
The decor was a mishmash of a living room, dining room, and a fast food bar. Old chairs balancing on the alluring border between antique and out of fashion offered room to a few dozen customers. On the wall, cuckoo clocks, the skull of a deer and 20th-century paintings might as well have been collected on a yard sale of an elderly Bavarian. Trachtenvogl felt used and lived in, but never in an unclean or dirty way. In short, it was a comfortable, homely place. “Danke”, he said when the waitress brought him his coffee. Behind her, a girl swinging a laptop bag in her hand bounced towards him. “Hallo!”, she gestured wildly, “kan ich doa sizen”? He couldn’t help but grin and offered her the place next to him. “Hi, where are you from”, he asked.
Weißwurst and brezel
“My god, that is delicious.” His father had spent five minutes trying to get the weißwurst out of its skin but now he saw his hard work finally rewarded. It had been six months since Jay moved to Munich and it was the first time his parents came to visit him. He had decided to take them to Trachtenvogl for their first steps in German cuisine. Well, German… It was only his father who had taken the famous Bavarian sausage breakfast. His mother chose a healthy option with fresh yogurt covered in fruit and he had gone for a plate of eggs and a toasted sandwich, which was his go-to snack while working.
“So, tell us more about your life here. How are you?”, his dad chirped while chewing on a piece of brezel. “Well, I’m still adapting. That’s for sure”, he started, “but I’m alright”. His mother threw a glance at his father. “You know”, she began, “you can always come back home. There’s no shame in that”. She gave him one of those looks he knew all too well. “No, don’t get me wrong, mom”, he hurried, “I’m happy here. It’s a new world for me, that’s all. New people, a new life. It’s not easy, but I’m getting there.” He waved to the room. “And besides… Whenever I’m down or stressed, I come here to relax. Shall I order another coffee?”
The bar so familiar to him, his home away from home, felt alien now. He was alone.
It was the silence between them that hurt him the most. The murmur of the customers served as a reminder that there was a world out there, that they were not alone.
He opened his mouth, tried to come up with something sensible to say. His mind raced through his memories of the past few weeks. How they had grown apart, how they had become strangers to each other. “What happened?”, he whispered, more to himself than to her.
She cried, pushed back her chair, hugged him and left. Her key remained next to his cup of cold coffee. He couldn’t move himself to pick it up, as if that would make it irreversible. The murmur continued around him. People laughed, had breakfast, toasted on their endeavors. Their image became a blur through his tears. The bar so familiar to him, his home away from home, felt alien now. He was alone.
In almost fluent German he ordered a weißwurstfrühstück and a coffee. She did the same. He leaned back and took up the view. A waitress with a large arm tattoo hurried from table to table and nodded as she flew past him. Nothing in the interior had changed in the past year. The bar was still buzzing with activity, the couches were a bit older and the menu got updated with new plates and sandwiches but other than that all stayed its comfortable way. Quite a contrast with his life.
He looked at her and remembered the moment when she came up to him, her laptop bag in hand, to ask if the seat was available. It seemed ages ago. “Any regrets?”, she smiled. He took a few moments to muse. “I’ve had some bad moments here, yeah”, he admitted. Unconsciously, he looked at the spot where ten months ago his now ex-girlfriend had put her key. “But it was worth it.” He grabbed her hand. “I will miss Munich but I’m so excited to discover the world with you.” She responded with a kiss. Jay put the last piece of weißwurst in his mouth and hand in hand they got up and left Trachtenvogl, his home away from home.