Sissy

BavarianGirl

Six months before I took this photo she was a Bavarian girl in pigtails. She had gone to Belfast to learn English, so she spoke it with an Irish accent. Then she went to Grenoble to learn French, which she also spoke with an Irish accent.

She grew up in a Bavarian hamlet so small and ancient that the houses splayed out in a circle, their lots running backwards and broadening like slices of pie reaching for a crust of woods. At their tips, the houses almost touched, and some shared a common wall. Her father owned the village bookstore, which her family lived above. On the other side of their common wall lived a swineherd, and you could hear the pigs when they were fed. “Sissy,” her family called her, the nickname for Franziska. She was the youngest

Growing up a Green was natural: at 18 she was tending a hectare of organic vegetables by herself. She didn’t use cosmetics. She would carry trash around all day in order to find sorted recycling. Skiing was like eating and sleeping: she could not remember when she had started, only that parents and older brothers were always cajoling and pushing, until she raced them. Then she raced everyone: she had been a promising downhiller until the knee injury.

At college in Augsburg she was an art major and learned to make ceramic marionettes on the medieval model (I still have one). She read Oscar Wilde, and she liked to quote him, even naming her car ‘Earnest.” It was a sign of her growing worldliness, which she held on to as fiercely as she did her deeply-seated innocence. But in this photo, with her first perm and new glasses, all that is beginning to change. There is that moment of hesitation before Life happens.

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