by Luisa

That’s not who you are – or are you? When I imagine a rockarolla, I see a guy with long wild hair, maybe with a red headband wrapped around the forehead. He wears leather pants with braided side seams at the bottom, sitting on a shiny Harley. Even if I’d imagine it less stereotypically, that’s definitely not what you look like, and yet you are rocking life and rolling over the world like an avalanche of joy and kindness.

Our meeting was another I didn’t expect to-moment. I had spent a week in the city that never sleeps a few years back, but luckily decided to come back for two weeks, exploring Brooklyn all by myself. Whereas my first stay was a traditional lovey-dovey vacation with my boyfriend at that time, this trip was based on the motto: No plan is the best plan. I wanted to create my own traditions.  I wanted to feel the vibe, drift away. I now realize that I didn’t expect to-moments are only possible if there are no expectations. Sounds obvious?  Well done, it wasn’t obvious to me.

My only planning for this trip involved a note on my phone, listing food I wanted to try and thrift shops, flea markets and coffee places I wanted to go to. One thing on this wu-hu list was to try a ramen burger at a local food market. After I had arrived at my hostel close to this important point on my wu-hu list, I met a curious Canadian girl. She was also traveling by herself, wanted to take some time off and gain new insights. We started talking and laughing, when an artist from Miami joined our conversation. I told them about my detailed food plans and ‘wu-hu’, they were in for this culinary experiment. Later that night, we decided to explore the neighborhood and bars around the corner. Together, the three of us left she shabby entrance of our hostel. It was located under the train tracks on Marcy Av. Not the quietest option for sure. Cars were honking on the mains street and each train made a squeaking noise. I still loved it. I was fascinated by the tiny businesses and crowded sidewalks. I loved the different smells, people and attitudes.  On a corner of Metropolitan Ave, we spotted people standing in front of a bar. The entrance and black wooden swinging doors reminded me of an old saloon.

What I did expect was a couple of beers, fun company and music blaring out of old jukeboxes. I definitely did not expect to encounter one of the kindest human beings I have ever met.  

Before I was even able to check out the colorful lightening, pictures and fake fur animals hanging on the walls, my two hostel mates surprised me with my first highball, another I didn’t expect to – moment. Cinnamon and liquor? Life changing. I can still feel the warmth of the spicy shot pouring down my throat. We made our way around the bar to the next room, where a group of guys played a game, I wasn’t familiar with – yet. They were standing close to a wooden table with different colorful zones painted on them. One of them was sliding a wooden coin to the other group.  Curiosity appeared and whispered into my ear: «You gonna be so good at this!». She can sound bossy, sometimes even arrogant, but so far, she always had pushed me, and great things happened afterwards. Thank you, Curiosity, because you are the reason we met.

I wanted to join and sneaked my way closer to the scenery. I remember noticing your kind eyes, and you responding to my excited childlike gaze expressing «What is this game?» by inviting me to join your team and take part in this legendary game of shuffleboard.

Our groups mingled, we talked, and you invited us to join you and your friends for a game night the next evening Your offer felt authentic, kind and unexpected. Not like the we should get back together soon– drivel. I’m happy I did not listen to my other friend Fear, telling me that I should not go to a stranger’s apartment for a game night; because for me you weren’t a stranger.

We spent the following evening playing card games with your friends, when you asked me what I was up to the following days and offered to show me around. Another benefit of not planning: It leaves room for spontaneity, much room.

You introduced me to your neighborhood and favorite places. I had chosen to stay in Brooklyn to discover a more authentic New York – and got rewarded by one of the best tours one can imagine. You and your sense for details, architecture, good treats and of course, music. We drove by old Victorian houses and started our day with a tiny chocolatery where we tried our way through the different flavors, followed by strolling through one of the most epic thrift shops I’ve ever been to. I remember you driving me home after this night, talking about your passion for classical music while head banging to Mozart (Damn, you are a rockarolla!). You showed me that generosity does make happy. Your joyful nature shines even brighter while giving and sharing. I grew up in an environment where hugs and embracing feelings were not the most natural things to do. While starting my own journey and creating my own traditions, I have started to reprogram these patters.
You taught me how to hug properly. There are people who are too stiff, you feel that they want to hug back but can’t for some reason. Something is holding them back, and the hug is one-sided. Others are patting too hard or just hug awkwardly strong or  too short, as if they are trying to get it over with. Your hugs express everything I saw in your kind eyes. Thank you for not only opening your arms und hugging like a rockarolla but also opening your heart and making room for a relationship based on trust, appreciation and mutual respect.

A few months after this first encounter, I came back to the city that felt like home already and you welcomed me in a way that felt completely natural and heart-warming. You invited my friends to your home, took us on exciting adventures and nurtured my fondness for good food. You celebrated with me when I climbed the next step on the career ladder and made me feel special. You are a personification of footmarks of love. I am incredibly grateful to call you my friend, to know that you spread the most important message there is: You embody love by showing the world what a real hug feels like.

Keep on rocking, keep on rolling and most importantly, keep on hugging.

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