They say, meeting your childhood heroes disentchants you. This glorious image you had will vanish. You will realize that your hero is just a human being like everyone else. So it’s better not to meet them when you grow up.

Thank God I didn’t lose my ability to see the world as a magical place.

The woman on the photo above is my childhood heroine. My Hermi.
When I was little, she was my Hermione, my Xena, Athene, Isis, Pippi Langstrumpf, Momo, you name it.
When I was little, I knew her as my mother’s close friend. Nevertheless, she left her imprints in my soul.
I was mesmerized when I first met her, at the age of 3. Not that I could recall anything, but she keeps telling me: You were hiding behind your mother’s skirt, eyeballing me intrigued, laughing at the thought of little me, one of those hearty laughs, from to bottom of her belly, with this scratchy sound underneath.

Hermi taught me how to swim, in the Aegaen Sea, holding on to her back. She is the only person I met as a child that didn’t care what others thought about her, did everything she wanted to do, told someone when something wasn’t right, had gay friends, went travelling on her own, and would always be up for flea markets, travels or parties. She is passionate, loving, and free as a bird. And when we went for our first family holiday, we went with her, to a Greek island.

Hermi appealed to me, back then, in the Eighties, and in the Nineties and now. Fiery red hair, slight hooked nose, a warm loving face, vivid eyes, brilliant matching make-up, high-heels, black fingernails except for the middlefinger, which is red. She wears rings, bracelets, smokes like a chimney, laughs a lot, and she took me for serious as a child. She had two cats back then, and their names were Euphrat and Tigris.

Her new cats she called John and Lennon. She says: When I call them, I am calling one of the most brilliant musicians in the world, and what could be better than that? I know the names of her cats because I met her today. And I am still filled with that golden warm feeling that is left when you met someone you really connect with. I am not disentchanted at all. I just wonder why I didn’t meet up with Hermi earlier.

From the moment I walked into her door we were talking, laughing, telling each other how much we appreciate each other, being a little bit confused together, doing this and that, sitting down, nibbling cake, drinking coffee. I listened to her stories, like I did as a child, just listened for hours on end, shaking my head. (Probably now she told me more grown-up stories.) She’s a great listener, like she was when I was small, and she is probably one of the most caring people I know. (She works at the EMS every week even though she’s in pension, and she’s more than double my age which you would never believe). Oh, and she’s cool as it can get. She drives a white vintage Vespa (with 15-cm-high-heels, too). She travelled through India, by herself. She goes parachuting, and swims like a fish, and she goes to Greece every year, to soak in the sun. In every part of her life, she lives it to the fullest. And I realized how much I appreciate her attitudes and approaches and that I am quite like her in many ways.

So I met up with my childhood heroine Hermi today. We ended up sitting four hours, talking, smoking a cigarette after the other, eating a cake which she had improvised for my visit, stroking the cats, while the sun was going down. Before I left, we said, maybe we could go to Greece together, next year. To soak up the sun, and sit until 3 in the morning, drinking Ouzo and talking about everything. We were both sorry to say goodbye so early. But she had to go out. Of course.

So maybe it’s a good thing to meet your childhood hero. Because I think as children we choose the right role models for us. And when you meet them again, you realize how much you’ve grown to be like them, and be inspired even more.

© Marianne Jungmaier, Linz 2013

Categories: Journal, Uncategorized