The AfD [extreme right political party in the German parliament] had announced it would be setting up camp in Lütten Klein. I went there to go to ultimate frisbee practice anyway. We were gathered in front of a buddy’s house beforehand. I was about to head off when I realised I’d forgotten my backpack, so I turned back for it. Clara or Swantje had picked it up and put it inside her much larger black backpack and was carrying a third. I reached for mine, but she handed me a green hiking pack instead.
“It’s better if you carry this,” she said grimly.
“Why – oh.” It dawned on me. “So that they can’t get so close?”
We set out up the street and immediately encountered camping mats and sleeping bags and young people in army fatigue lying on the sidewalks. I tried to step around them but almost tripped over someone’s feet. Cars and vans were pulling up with more of these people. I avoided eye contact and tried to walk respectfully around them.
But then in front was a proper roadblock. With barricades and a checkpoint. There were people there – those young people who were clearly part of the checkpoint, and those of us wanting to get through. I slowly made my way to an opening, eyes cast downward. A young woman stepped in my way. Dark auburn hair, clear eyes.
“Was machst du denn?” What do you think you’re doing, she leered at me.
Eyes still lowered, I said I wanted to get through.
“We’ll see about that.” She had a sneer on her face.
I suddenly found myself in a small group of people, each of us wanting passage, awaiting judgment. The girl stepped back, and a young man stepped in my direction. They were all wearing navy blue tops and khaki slacks.
“What do you want?” he teased horribly.
“Ich will nur zum Sport.” I just want to go to practice.
This humiliating farce went on for a few more back-and-forths – lasting surely not more than a minute in total – before they decided I and others would not be allowed through.
As we were ushered en masse to the side, out between two parked cars, I turned back and saw Orsi, my Romanian colleague and friend, looking at me with wide eyes. I wondered if she had been allowed through.
I was reluctant to go. I lingered between the parked cars. The boy noticed and came up to me. Big, clear brown eyes, tidy brown haircut.
“Why are you still here.” It wasn’t a question so much as a challenge or command.
“I just want to go to practice,” I repeated, softly.
He grabbed my hand and pushed me away. I resisted. He became rougher, and I felt an intrusive hand on my waist, on my bare skin, unpermitted.
The shock of the violation jolted me awake.