Well it has been a week since I returned from my trip. I just finished re-reading the diary that I took as I traveled. As I read through it, I feel as if every day held a new city, new people, and new experiences. The only constants were a camera, a pen, and myself. I remember falling asleep on a train to Bremen, waking up, and forgetting where I was going. It took me a moment to remember – I was tracking down the emigration camp in Bremen from where my grandfather and his brother immigrated to America. This feeling of jumping from place to place only becomes heightened as I read my diary, and all of the two months of traveling are condensed to about thirty minutes worth of reading, eight blogs, and a small black box that holds my footage. But, I also have memories outside of these physical things. I find that when I look through them, they trigger some memory, and I can sit in silence remembering details I had forgotten until then. Continue reading
Well, I’m home. After traveling for ten days through Italy, Switzerland, Germany and England, I now find myself in North Carolina with home-cooked meals and all the Wi-Fi access I need to upload my posts. My first order of business after getting settled back into my home was to write letters to all of the people I met on my travels. I would like to share one in particular with you if you are willing.
I met a young man in Frankfurt while working on my film who is around my age and whom I became very close friends with. I had just taken a train from Zurich to Frankfurt, and was now in a city in which, for the first time in my life, no one there knew me or cared I was there. This was intimidating. Not to mention my hostel was located in the Red Light district of Frankfurt, which meant that I had to dodge drug-addicts and prostitutes to get there. He worked in this hostel, which turned out to be one of the nicest places I have ever visited, and our personalities and ideologies meshed so very well. On July 2, I wrote in my diary, “I am sitting alongside a kid named Liam, who deserves a good amount of description because I have found him to be as close of a friend as I have made in a while, and it happened in two days. He works in the hostel and treats everyone with respect. But, he is also one of the brighter people I have ever met. His views of the world are calm and open. He is not quick to judgment, and he is able to see outside of himself. He is also hilariously funny. I would like to be friends with him for a long time. In fact, I think I will fight to make that happen.” After staying in Frankfurt for those two weeks, I decided to join him on a vacation to Berlin for three days as a kind of respite from my filming and perhaps as a way to prove to myself how important this friendship had become. We had a great time sightseeing and taking in the peculiarities of the city.
When I got home from my trip, I wrote him the following letter: Continue reading
I have been in Frankfurt, Germany for 16 days. My goal has been to recreate some truth of my grandfather’s childhood. I started with the Frankfurt Jewish Museum where I walked up to the front desk to a man named Ronald. I was armed with my microphone, camera, tripod, and headphones. “Hello,” I said. “My name is David Mayer. I am making a film about my grandfather…” and so on. He gave me a name, a free ticket into the museum, and his contact information. Fast forward to now: I have filmed my grandfather’s childhood home, the home that was bombed out during the war, the prison my grandfather’s father was taken to in 1943 for being Jewish, the headquarters of the Gestapo, the train station, their home in the Tanus mountains. I have met and filmed what seems like every archivist in Frankfurt, an author of a book about Jewish persecution, a cousin of my grandfather’s, a man who was in the Weisser Adler with my grandfather, and a woman who knew my grandfather during the time he wrote his diary. My hard drives are getting rather full, and my mind is getting stretched to every corner of this city. And, what’s funny is that after it all, after seeing the places they tortured people in the prison, after seeing documents that my great-grandmother filled out to apply for 1000 Reichsmarks as compensation for the loss of her husband, after seeing these pieces of my grandfather’s home, I remember my own home in North Carolina. I remember my twin, my brother, my mother, and my father, and I miss them. Continue reading
My name is David Mayer. I was born in Durham, North Carolina and have lived there my whole life. So, naturally, I love James Taylor, Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show, anything Alison Krauss touches, the Avett brothers, and recently the Mipso Trio – a band from UNC that everyone should check out. I also love BBQ and sweet tea.
I have a twin brother who plays basketball at Williams College who is 5 inches taller than me and an older brother who graduated from Villanova University who is 2 inches taller than me; everything in life is a competition. I absolutely love basketball and have played my whole life. I walked on to the Duke Basketball team at the beginning of my freshman year, but left the team the summer after because I found that my passions mostly lay outside the hardwood of Cameron.
I love puppies (especially my miniature poodle named Chipper) and I dabble on the ukelele. My go-to songs are You and I by Ingrid Michaelson and Hallelujah (the Shrek version).
But, more importantly, I am a brother, a son, and a grandson, so with this interest in family, I will be studying my grandfather’s diary, which he wrote starting in 1945 in Nazi Germany. Continue reading