Heimat

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Mia’s Heimat was actually Hesse, the region inĀ  the triangle between Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, and Limburg.

All of her people came from there.

Her mother’s parents owned a clothing store in Limburg, right on the central square. Both her parents moved to Breslau in Silesia only in 1919. Breslau faced east and boomed in the 1920s and 1930s, even before the war, attracting people like them.

After the war Mia married Helmut, who was raised in Offheim, a village just outside of Limburg.

Fourteen years later, they adopted me, born in Wiesbaden, the state capital of Hesse, a leafy city going back to a Roman bath (Aquae Mattiacorum, 121 C.E.)

Mia lived in Wiesbaden more than fifty years but always spoke of it (my hometown after all) with disdain.

“Everything is so expensive.”

“I’m a Breslauer Lerge,” she’d say, “Silesian.””I lost everything.”

She hated it when I spoke Hessian dialect.

“Stop that, stop with the “sh”.”

“You? You’re definitely not Hessian. No, not Silesian, either.”

“You’re from the orphanage.”

“A donkey lost you.”

“You’re a restless fellow,” Papa would jump in. “Du bist ein heimatloser Geselle, wie in dem Lied.” But then he never explained what song, as if everybody knew. “Du bist ein rastloser Geselle.”

Mama: “You have no Heimat, isn’t that what your generation wants?”

She actually disputed my right to return to Wiesbaden after high school, after they sent me to boarding school age 14-19. “Du kannst doch in Schluechtern bleiben.”