A – up to this point – only heard about my family, from what I told him about them, which in fact were only good things. I mentioned that my dad and I talk about God and the world (but not that we in fact talk about EVERYTHING), I mentioned that my mom and I love to go shopping (but not that we would spend hours and hours together at the mall), I mentioned that my younger brother and I played Wii together almost every day (but not that we got very competitive about it), I mentioned that my older brother and I meet up for coffee every now and then (but not that our coffees (and ice cream and a glass of white wine) was our brother&sister thing) , I mentioned that my grandpa and I would sometimes sit together and discuss world affairs (but not that almost every conversation ended with ‘it’s because I read it on the internet’), I mentioned that my grandma and I love to talk and have a cup of coffee together (but not that a morning coffee often turns into lunch, a lunch often turns into afternoon coffee and an afternoon coffee often turns into dinner). See, even though miles and miles apart, I am still very close to my family, I always have and probably always will be, it’s just the way I am.
Up to this point, it never crossed my mind, that some of our behavior might not be as loving and charming to another person. The other reason, why I didn’t mention bad sides of my family, was that in fact I have nothing bad to say about my family, they are to me, my superheroes and I will always be there for them, just like they are always there for me.
In December 2009 we were on our way from Salzburg to a small town close to Vienna. A, who has never experienced a winter like an Austrian before, was already complaining about the cold weather (he would have not in a million years thought that 3 years later he would reside in an even colder country…). He wondered how we ever survived and that we all are in desperate need of a climate change and that he will suffer frostbite because of the cold (this went on for about 45 minutes, it once crossed my mind to tell him, that this was a comparatively ‘mild’ winter but then I figured, for someone, who never had to deal with this kind of weather, this was winter north-pole-style, judging by this past winter though, (we barely survived in Norway, and this was indeed what they called ‘mild’), the winter we had in Austria that year was like a warm-summer day).
About 6pm we arrived at my home, it was already dark, the streets were empty and the empty house must have seemed like the perfect place to film ‘Nightmare on Elmstreet’. I was happy, since I was home, A was… scared?! (I don’t even know how to describe what he felt like.)
We keep the house warm with three different wood fireplaces/stoves, they are easy to light and easy to maintain and they warm up the place pretty quickly. Two out of the 3 have a fire-safe glass door, so you can see whenever the fire dies down and quickly handle it, if needed. Since A never had done this before in his life, he watched me carefully, he advised me not to get too close to the fire, not to do this or that and to be careful. I have been doing this for almost 5 years, I knew what I was doing, but somehow A didn’t think I was trustworthy.
The place heated up quickly and soon enough my parents pulled up the driveway. A secretly had been taking German-lessons, he wanted to be able to communicate at least a little bit with my family. He had been practicing his welcome line for about a 1000 times, ‘Hallo, wie gehts? Danke, mir geht es gut!’ (translated: Hello, how are you? Thanks, I am fine) Over and over he practiced it and he almost sounded Austrian. I heard the keys turning at the entrance door and happily greeted my parents and then, for the first time ever, they faced A, who shyly stood in the middle of the room. He reached for my dad’s hand to shake it and then blurted out, ‘Miiiir gehts’ (there is actually no proper translation for this). He proudly smiled, while my dad looked from A to me and back to A, very puzzled and confused. My mom bursted out laughing, not only did this not make ANY sense, but the looks I and my dad had on our faces were priceless, she said. A turned a dark-red, he was a wee bit clueless as to where to go from here but he definitely broke the ice. We spent the evening talking to my parents, they got to know A, joked around a bit, we played some games with my younger brother, and I had no doubt that they accepted A just the way he was.
A few days later, the evening of December 22nd, A and I were home alone and A was already used to the whole fire-place thing, he tried lighting and reloading the stove himself. He was so very proud of himself, when he sat down next to me. A few seconds after he sat down I looked up at the stove and realized that the glass in the glass door was broken. It was not like a small crack in the glass, no, it was two-piece not repairable broken. A panicked, he asked if we had another glass piece in the house (which of course we didn’t) and he knew, that if we didn’t replace it soon, this Christmas would be a very cold one. I immediately called my dad, who was in shock, since this had not once happened in all the years we lived in this house. He said to look up a glass specialist online and maybe, if we’re in luck, they might be able to replace the glass we needed for a warm home before Christmas. It was already 5.30 pm and I knew most places would close between 5 and 6 that day so I called up about 7 places, explained our situation until finally one tired man, yawned a tired ‘yes, just come on by tomorrow’.
The next day, first thing in the morning we did just that and so saved Christmas for my family. Ever since that day, A was not allowed anywhere near the stove ever again… Thankfully A learned his lesson and from that point on only gave advice from afar.