3. A Ranger Out of Erlangen
A/N: This chapter is dedicated to all law students swotting for their exams. You will survive!
2. A Ranger out of Erlangen
It was a sunny Thursday at the beginning of August. The summer holidays of the university had just started. In the evening I should be at the law coach at precisely 18:00, with the solution to three trial cases. At this very moment I should be sitting at my desk, my nose in a set of books, ignoring the sunshine.
Instead I had packed my backpack, rolled up my sleeping bag and my therm-a-rest, and left the apartment I shared with Emilia.
Emilia had asked where I was going and when I would be back.
I had told her that I did not know where I was going and hoped to be back at the end of October, when the new term started.
Then I had left, closing the apartment door quietly behind me.
I took the bus to Bubenreuth, a village on the outskirts of Erlangen, and started walking.
Soon the city of Erlangen and the highway to Bamberg lay behind me and I walked along a narrow country lane between green fields of corn and golden fields of wheat and barley.
Mark, my step-father, would be very understanding about my just leaving on the spot. He would embrace me, thump my shoulders and try to pay for an expensive holiday on an exotic island to soothe my nerves. My mother would suggest meditation in Tibet or a monastery in India to get me re-connected to the spiritual world. Or she would call one of her strange friends to come over and do a tarot reading for me or to show me some shamanic dances to free my soul.
Thoughts rose unbidden in my mind:
I am happy with my family.
They may be strange, each in his or her own way, but they love me, I love them, and we all know it.
I am not at all happy with my life.
I am twenty-four, graduate to be from a good university with a history of more than 250 years of research and teaching.
I should be ready to take on a career as a lawyer or a judge or an attorney.
I should be ready to take on anything!
And now I am here walking along this narrow country lane away from the university city of Erlangen and feel nothing but relief at leaving it all behind.
All those damn ought-to's and must-have's and don't-do's and just-in-time's.
Those books which tell me nothing.
Those rules which only choke me.
Those students who only look to their future businesses and careers.
Those other students who dream their lives away.
When I had finished school, I had thought I knew everything.
I had felt so wonderfully grown up.
I had felt ready to take on everything back then.
Where had this feeling disappeared to?
When had this feeling disappeared?
Can you feel jaded at twenty-four?
I should not even be taking this one day off of my studies, a small voice reminded me at the back of my mind.
A feeling of guilt was creeping into my conscience.
I stopped dead in my tracks and,, suddenly,, I felt nothing but anger.
I was twenty-four and I had no life.
I had never done what I had wanted to do most.
I had always been responsible and dependable and smart.
And the result was: I was twenty-four, I hated what I was doing, and I had no life.
If I had been back at my apartment, I think I would have run into the kitchen and started throwing porcelain to the ground.
Gods, was I mad!
I felt like screaming, I felt like hitting something, someone.
And suddenly I found that I was, in fact, screaming.
I was shouting at the top of my lungs, screaming at an oak tree at the roadside and kicking the tree trunk as hard as I could.
"I hate my life. I – hate – my – life! I – just – cannot – stand – it – one – more – day, one- more – hour, one – more – minute!"
My foot twisted, and I fell to the ground, pounding the dirt with my fists. Hot tears were running down my cheeks and my voice grew hoarse with every shout I gave.
Finally the tears and the screams subsided. My head felt slightly achy, but my mind was wonderfully calm. I felt empty, floating through space. I stared at my dirty fingers and the few damp spots on the ground where my fists had hit the dirt repeatedly.
This was my life.
This was the only chance I had, to make my life – if not worthwhile – at least not a complete misery. I would never have another chance.
If I hated what I was doing so much that I had a screaming fit in a public place, something was seriously wrong with my life. Logical reasoning. Studying law helps you to develop an acute sense for logical reasoning.
If my life was that wrong, then I had to change it.
I inhaled deeply.
Change my life.
I will change my life.
I will change my life now.
This very minute.
…how should I change my life?
I looked at my dirty fingers, the dusty earth, and felt absolutely confused.
What should I do?
Get rid of university?
Find a job?
Do some trekking in Nepal?
Spend a year in Mom's favourite monastery in India?
Then I smacked my forehead with my palm.
I was already at it again!
Thinking about what I ought to do!
But what did I want to do?
I had no idea if there was anything at all that I really "wanted" to do. My friend, Katrin, she knew from the start that she would be a teacher. She told me it was her calling.
I had never felt anything like that.
What did I want to do? I mused. And sitting in the dirt of the country lane out of Erlangen, I suddenly realized that I was already doing it. I had forever and a day dreamed about becoming a real live ranger. I had always wanted to experience for myself what I had read about in "The Lord of the Rings", spending days in the wilderness, sleeping under the stars…
I wanted to find out what it was that I was named for.
A slow grin spread on my face,
I had set out this very morning to do exactly that: to spend three months walking!
And I would!
I got to my feet and tried to beat the dust out of my jeans.
I was not really successful.
The only result was that the dirt was spread much more economically. What the hell, I thought. That only goes to make me look more real.
As if I had spent already some time on the road.
I felt my grin grow even broader.
I adjusted the backpack and breathed deeply, all at once feeling relaxed and carefree.
I set off along the country lane into the hills of Franconia.
It was not quite as lovely a landscape as the English midlands, which probably had been the model for Tolkien's description of the Shire.
But it was a remarkably similar landscape.
Franconia, the northern part of southern Germany:
There are soft hills and small fields of corn and wheat, barley and even pipe-weed, tobacco. There are thickets of brambles and raspberries and hedges of whitethorn and rose hips.
There are woods of fir trees, beech and oak trees, flush with game.
There are winding country roads along burbling little streams.
There are ancient farming villages with rustic inns, which serve delicious dark, home-brewed beer, and even some castles and mysterious ruins from ages long gone.
Franconia is a rural country full of history and hidden stories.
In fact, I mused, it was a perfect country for a newly appointed ranger to try out her feet.
I grinned and looked with new delight around me, taking in the sunshine and the scent of summer drifting across from the ripening fields, which I had barely noticed before.
Lothíriel, Franconian ranger out of the university city of Erlangen!
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.