Life, from my mother’s point of view.

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This photo of my grandmother with my mother on her lap was taken in Berlin in 1942 or 1943, during the war, right in the middle of it, so the date tells us, but not the expression on the faces we see. My grandmother looks serene and happy, elegant, filled with love for her firstborn child, and I find my mother’s all-time sovereign expression already there, ready to master anything, wartimes and everything there was to master after that, kindergarten, school yard and first boyfriends, first in postwar Germany, then in the Russian sector, situations you didn’t choose, that you were just born into, forcing you to leave everything behind (a beautiful villa by the river) when fleeing from the GDR, much later she faced marriage and divorce, her job and my puberty, fate and luck, summers and winters, sickness and health, rain and shine, Christmas and wakes, new countries, new opportunities, and new problems, new houses and new gardens, filled with old friends and new decor, and whatever was lying ahead on this day in 1942 or 1943, she was already sure of herself to master it, overcome it, celebrate it, decorate it. She still has this adorable expression on her face: let it come, all of it, I’m happy to deal with it. I’m glad to have this photo as an inspiration in my new apartment, and by that at the place where it was taken: in Berlin. 75 years later.

 

Lunch break at Prada’s.

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We met in late summer 2001. I was a copywriter at D’Arcy in Hamburg, an advertising agency from New York, operating worldwide, or in my particular case, a network operating in Hamburg, Germany. It no longer exists, it was shut down in 2002, but in the 1960s it was still famous enough to be named in Mad Men, one of my favourite tv shows, as competition to Sterling Cooper’s genius Don Draper, I instantly sat a bit more elevated on my couch as it made me feel like playing a part in Mad Men, an exciting opposing part rather than a boring supporting one, I might add. Anyway, I digress, D’Arcy’s Hamburg office was close to Prada’s Hamburg store, and in a lunch break during that late summer I saw her, meaning my jacket, in their windows, having their autumn-winter collection 2001/2002 on display. It was love at first sight. The grey wool, the simple cut, a bit military, no chichi, just plain simple rigour, very high waist, nothing for people whose kidneys can’t bear the cold, a bit haute couture, it looked so perfectly put together, so very much like important tailoring, I purchased it this very lunch break in 2001 and I am still wearing it. Sadly, spring is here, temperatures have already risen, and we now must part for another spring and summer. Hopefully, we’ll enjoy an early autumn.

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