Color. I am surrounded by a fantastic spectrum of vibrant hues that fill me with excitement. Even the downpour of rain that welcomed us couldn’t wash away the warmth of this town. The bus passed through the grand archway into Dinkelsbühl, Germany with all of the other 100 American Music Abroad members on-board. Eyes glued to the small camera screens in hand, every teen was desperately searching for the perfect snapshot of this moment. The moment we first caught sight of the cobblestone streets with their colorful houses and quaint shops covered with latticed designs. The moment we first saw the breathtaking St. George’s Church and realized Dinkelsbühl contained all of the joy of Christmas in one quaint little town. I stepped off the bus and found myself dropped into one of those Christmas town displays you see in storefronts that are dusted with snow and figurines gliding across the ice surrounded by close-knit buildings. I flashed back to all the years when my mom would put our Christmas town display in its traditional spot. I would admire it for days as I counted down the days until I could creep downstairs in my pajamas and inspect the presents.
While short-lived, our visit to Dinkelsbühl was a whirlwind of activity. We toured St. George’s Church in the center of town complete with spiral staircases and detailed paintings with a grand organ watching from the balcony. Inside a bakery, I ordered a dessert that should win the award for funniest name—Schneeballen (translated to snowball). My definition: Strips of pastry mangled and crisscrossed together to form a baseball, which is then deep-fried and dusted with confectioner’s sugar. When a dessert tastes that amazing, you don’t even have to be able to spell it. We snacked on German pretzels, bought cloud-like pillows, and lit candles in the church. It was truly something special to feel the warmth and love from the heat of the flames in this beloved church.
Grey. There’s a sea of grey in front of me, overpowering my vision. Never has my breath been taken away before. The rusted iron gate of the Dachau Concentration Camp creeps open as I hesitantly step inside, welcomed by nothing but silence. Except the gravel. The grey stones crunched under people’s feet, breaking the startling stillness. Jews have walked on the same path that I’ve walked. They’ve slept in the same beds I gaze at now; not big enough for more than two people, but instead were crammed to fit ten. Tourists walk beside me, their eyes filled with respect for their surroundings and an air of solemn appreciation. Students board the bus with little communication and quietly take their seats. How can one country can be filled with so much joy and yet so much sadness and destruction? The contrast between these two places is like night and day.
Our concert later that day in Schnelldorf was filled with laughs and beautiful music which we all needed after an emotional day. Looking out into the audience of smiling locals, an old man was pushing a rusted bicycle to the front row. His smile lit up the night sky and he clenched a fistful of tall, yellow sunflowers from his bicycle basket—one for each of our conductors. Days like these make me realize that some events shouldn’t constantly regurgitate feelings of remorse even when the event has passed. It’s important to move on in our lives and enjoy the wonderful moments in life like savoring the sweetness of mixed berry gelato on the streets of Germany.
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