My trip to Austin was short, less that 48 hours short. What was I thinking going there at a time like this – “this” being one month since my husband died. Of course Grief came along with me, like a hitchhiker, sitting right there next to me in the passenger seat. I had to pull over quite a few times to quiet the bastard down, pull over and cry and cry and cry to subdue its backseat driving. Anyway, what I could see of Austin, through the cloudiness of my sad and puffy eyes, was spectacular. Austin appears to be a sweet city with an eclectic combination of funky farm life, youthful university vibe (all that promise for the future!), stuffy government (just think, W lived here…), athletic energy (all those runners and bikers along the river trail), and downtown sophistication with elegant bistros. And then there’s the music scene. At 10PM on a Monday night there was live music blaring from every bar in the six-block radius I walked. I liked everything I saw, though admittedly I didn’t see much. I’ll be sure to return when I get my energy back….at least one can hope. On my drive back to Terlingua, I stopped in Fredericksburg, a German town right here in Texas. Even the street names are in German, including the German word Strasse for street. There was Friedhelm’s Bavarian Restaurant, Der Lindenbaum, and the Altdorf Biergarten. Naturally, this reminded me of Marcus…but that was okay, in fact it was good, nice, cozy – or gemutlich, as long as we’re using German words here – and made me feel closer to him. The thing about Fredericksburg is that is not only German, it is also famous for its pie! (Maybe this is where Marcus and I should have settled.) This Texas hill country is fertile with peaches and pecans, both exceptional pie fillings.
After asking a local woman for a pie recommendation, her face lit up with a smile. “Oh, that’s easy. The Fredericksburg Pie Company. It’s just around the corner.” Are you sure it’s open today, I asked, having noted that although there were a number of tourists strolling the sidewalks nearly every restaurant was closed. In Germany this is called a “Ruhetag” or rest day, though a Wednesday seemed an odd day for everything to be closed. “I’m sure it will be open,” she insisted.With buoyed hopes and a hungry belly, I drove around the corner and there it was in its kitschy, cute, touristy glory: The Fredericksburg Pie Company. An old white Craftsman cottage with a front porch, covered in vines, perched on a pert green lawn. It was picture perfect. I could already taste the peach pie, or maybe pecan, or maybe both. I would have one piece for Angelika (pecan is her favorite) and one piece for me (peach is one of my top 5), and, if necessary, a third piece for my hitchhiker, Grief.
As if my mission wasn’t clear enough, I saw a sign hanging from the rafters of the house. “PIE FIXES EVERYTHING,” it promised. In my broken state, I was desperate for pie. (Well, no, I was desperate to have Marcus back, but….) “Pie is better than a psychiatrist,” I thought. And then I saw another sign. “CLOSED,” it said. “And you thought putting your life back together after Marcus was going to be that easy, did you?” said the voice inside. “Easy as pie? Ha!”
I got back in my car, pulled over a few more times to cry, and eventually ate a stale croissant I had been carrying around for 3 days. I will have to think of other ways to help Angelika with her grief, while still dealing with mine. My goal is to spend Thanksgiving with Marcus’ parents in Germany. I will bring all the ingredients to make pecan pie — and I will make every effort to leave Grief behind.