Your stories and your way of telling them are so heartbreaking and gently funny at the same time I find them absolutely moving.
I have known Siobhán for a very long time; she is one of an extremely small number of people who actually know and understand how I feel, so she is a very important person for me and I hope you will allow me to share some memories of my own with you here.
I first met her at Bayreuth University in 1992. She is extremely smart and I was not very adept at academic life or thinking, so for a long time I didn’t dare to speak to her. Bayreuth is technically in Bavaria but considers itself not to be, really, and Siobhán and I both come from the same, let’s say more rustic, original part of Bavaria, so I suppose that drew us together eventually. She is, to this day, the only friend that has remained a part of my life from this time.
When she moved to Berlin, I visited regularly, and she was one of the few people who could be bothered to come and visit me in my not very glamorous new abode of Zwickau, Saxony. When the last of my succession of flat mates there moved to America in 2003 and I was left a little stranded and feeling very alone, she came down for a few days to cheer me up, and we binge-watched six seasons of Red Dwarf. I had to get the videos from the library in advance, a feat which took some organising in those days. It was a memorable weekend, not just because of the shows (we had done a similar thing together before in Chemnitz, when the local cinema decided to show six Star Trek films in one night, and we came out afterwards and the oxygen hit us like an exhilarating drug, and we would do the same again in Berlin with a complete show of the Lord of the Rings trilogy). But to me, that weekend was memorable because it showed me very clearly how well she understood the loneliness I was feeling and how much she cared about making it better. She bought me a little ceramic snail on that weekend, as a symbol, she said, that slow progress is progress nevertheless. I still have it on my bookshelf as a cherished souvenir.
I spent some of my happiest holidays with her; a weekend at a spa in Görlitz, where we never left the building because we were so busy relaxing and enjoying it so much, and two weeks in Spain, where we had breakfast together every day and then we each did our own thing; she visited museums and other culturally important buildings like the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, whilst I spent most of my time lounging about on the beach, doing nothing, or learning to dive. And then we would meet again for dinner and share our stories of the day. I think this was so enjoyable and I have such happy memories of it because there was never any sense of obligation or pressure, there was instead a tremendous freedom to follow our own interests and acceptance that they wouldn’t always coincide and confidence that this would not be an impediment to our holiday together but rather an enhancement of the experience. I have never found anyone else with whom I have been able to do this. It was very, very special.
Then of course she married. You. I have to say that this came as a bit of a surprise to me. I suppose that in my mind I had settled it that she and I would remain single forever. But she found you. One day she called with the news that she had got married! And when I finally saw you together, even though you didn’t really talk to me or say much at all (you spent most of your time talking to the dog Tati, although I remember your enthusiasm when we watched Thor together in your flat) I could see that you two were good for each other and had been smart enough to recognise it. She was as happy with you as I had never seen her before in all the time that I knew her. I think that your marriage is based on the same relaxed acceptance of different interests and the trust that there will be enough common ground left over for both of you to stand on.
After you two got married, Siobhán and I still went to the occasional „gig“ in Berlin without you. I always enjoyed these events enormously and I have always been grateful to you for allowing me „in“ on your relationship in this way.
It has always meant a lot to me.
— Barbara Fink