Monday, March 31, 2008

Aufwiedersehen, Sexless Berlin

When we were in college, my sister had a superstition about street lamps. She used to think that just walking by, she could turn them on or off. After she told me about this, of course, any streetlight that flickered in my presence became some sort of sign – generally I thought of it as an indication of just how much chaos had accrued to me in a given period of time. It never occurred to me until this winter, living in Kreuzberg, that I should think about this more closely. On the bridge where Kottbusserdamm crosses the Landwehrkanal, there was a street light that constantly switched on or off when I walked under it. One cold night I remember standing at the end of the bridge and watching for long enough to see that it flickered on and off quite regularly – some sort of short circuit, undoubtedly. Life is sort of like that streetlight, I suppose. Unless you take the trouble to step back and observe more closely, it probably seems like it’s pretty much all about you.

Recovering from a terribly damaging love affair nearly completely blinds one to others’ suffering, and certainly robs one of any capacity for mercy. Starting with my trip to India, one year post-break-up, I began climbing out of that particular deep, dark hole, and it feels good to lift my face up to the light. On an impulse, yesterday, after vacating my sublet du jour and with hours still to go until my night train, I SMS’d Mr. Performance Artist. He was painting at home, and we “connected” in the obvious way but more importantly spent hours talking, including one last trip to drink large hot chocolates at the fabulous Kakao. Among other things, I found out that the reason he hadn't shared Berlinale tickets with me is that the Email I had for him was his third-level account. I can't exactly wonder why he'd never bothered to upgrade me, as I'm afraid I wasn't the most fun person to be around in, well, the year 2007. As for him, he’d been going through an on-again, off-again break-up himself all last year, of which I had had only the vaguest idea, but of course that was a function of my own self-involvement. There is a destructive, selfish side about him, which he is actually confronting, while engaging in some serious self-reflection. That is something I greatly admire, particularly given the rare occasions that I see it in men.

As I’m on the night train, Berlin to Paris, I’m finishing this post. I was all set to write something quite different, reflections on my time in Berlin, but it's time to close that damaged and difficult phase of my life. I have to admit that a certain part of what I experienced came from inside me. Perhaps it was an interaction between what I was living through and the way that Berlin is. So it's appropriate that life intervened on my last day in Berlin, to steer this post in a rather different direction. Though Berlin for me has been so hard, still leaving feels difficult as well. I'm struggling with a nostalgia for certain things, principally the idea of home, which Berlin had for me, to some degree, since at least it had become familiar. But I've decided to work a bit more actively on the pursuit of happiness. My friends, this may be the end of this blog, I haven’t quite decided yet. I may keep it open for the likely possibility that I’m back living in Berlin, at least temporarily, next fall. Or maybe it will be my dark-side blog, but I need something else for the sunny attitude that the thought of Spain is engendering in me. So for now, aufwiedersehen.

No comments: