Lena Rosa Händle

Twelve years ago, I applied for internships via email, and I got a reply from a photographer in New York City. He couldn’t offer me an internship, but he was willing to show me around the city instead. That’s how I met Charles. In the beginning, I didn’t understand his Texan slang or his weird, pessimistic world view, combined with that very peculiar, yet great sense of humor.

I moved from Berlin to NYC with two of my friends, who were also photographers. For the summer, we moved into this wonderful brick stone two-room apartment in Astoria, Queens. We all were supposed to do internships, but we ended up doing our own thing instead: taking pictures and living a dream-like version of the New York lifestyle, having adventures with people from all over the world. One of my friends, Kristin, is a very caring but tough woman from Rostock, Germany. She used to work as a nurse before becoming a photographer. I introduced Kirstin to Charles, asking if he would set up a fake internship contract for her. That fake internship turned into a romantic relationship.

During our last week in New York, I was hardly ever home, just running in and out quickly. Every time I came home, though, I saw the same scenario: the two love birds Kirschblüte and Mr. September. That’s what they called each other. They were deeply in love with one another, combined with sadness and the fear of leaving. This photograph captures one of these moments of falling in love head over heels. I also fell in love in New York, with a Jewish woman from Johannesburg, 15 years my senior. I met her at the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island. Intensity and love were all around. But we didn’t know what the future would bring with this big ocean between us.

Twelve years later, I returned to New York and visited the Kirschblüten family in Harlem. They have two lovely girls. One is called Luna, named after me, and her grandmother’s name, Lena. They call her “Blüte” and the other one they call “Polchen.”

featured in romka # 9, 2015