Flakes of dust came floating down like antique snowflakes while she was struggling to reach for the heavy album stacked neatly between a framed black-and-white photograph and a vase filled with blue lilies. My grandma turned around, her face glowing with victory, her cheeks rosy, clasping the album like a sought-after treasure to her chest. „In here,“, she proclaimed while cutting her way carefully through the coffee table and the old armchair. „It’s in here!“. Ever since I was a little girl, she had been telling me stories. Stories about laughter, about struggling and about excitement, but above all, stories about surprises. My grandma not only had an expressive voice, she had the rare gift of drawing me into her narrative, making me forget everything around me. Every time we sat down with the leather-bound albums, we left her familiar living room and time-traveled together.
The thin paper rustled subtly when my grandma’s hand separated it slowly from the black cardboard page on which three white-framed photos had been arranged. „See, dear, this is him. “Her finger was resting on the face of a young man wearing a US Airforce uniform, laughing into the camera, one arm stretched towards it as if he was trying to steal it. “It was love at first fightreally, “, my grandma said and the reckless smile which flashed over her face made her almost turn twenty-two again. They had met at a food rationing during the time of the Berlin Airlift. My grandma hadn’t had a proper meal in days and when she had fought her way to the top of the line, her hair undone, her petticoat slightly deranged, she was not going to take anything from anyone. “He later told me he had never seen such an angry woman in his life. “, my grandma said, laughing out loud. My grandpa had spent all night risking his life trapped in a tiny yet with weather conditions far from optimal, just to deliver basic food and other necessities to West Berliners. He too was not in the mood to be yelled at. “I remember as if it was yesterday, how he said to me that I needed to shut up or he would kiss me and that I probably wouldn’t like that. “It turned out that my grandma actually did like it.
That summer of 1948, they spend days at the nearby lake, eating chocolate he had managed to smuggle from the rationing and dreamed about their uncertain future. When he returned to Berlin in the fall, he brought along his treasured camera and my grandma started to not only fall in love with him but with photography. “This photograph in here...doesn’t it seem as if he’s still there? As if he‘ll come back with the next plane? “, my grandma asked, looking up. I nodded and put my hand over her finger which was still lingering on my grandfather‘s young, youthful face.