Thursday, May 22, 2008

They Who Giveth and Taketh Away

Four weeks ago I was notified that I'd be required back in Berlin for another contract gig in the fall, but just today, after a grueling interview trip to the U.S., I was told by Berlin that, no thank you, they'd found someone to cover the work for free. Nothing throws me into a funk more than people capable of reneging on promises. At my advanced age I still seem to harbor the idea that people will be straightforward and honest with each other, but obviously this is just foolishness on my part. At any rate, perhaps this will cure me of the completely unexpected, even disconcerting, nostalgia I'd been feeling for Berlin in the weeks since I'd moved away.

So, to get it out of my system, I'll allow myself to miss Berlin's broad avenues and huge plazas surrounded by that schizophrenic mix of dramatic Prussian architecture and plattenbau (that crappy East-German modular housing stacked for 20 stories high). I'll remember how I'd stumble upon little parts of the River Spree or its many canals as I meandered through the city, crossing and re-crossing on my bike the paving blocks that mark the strange zig-zagging course of the former Wall. I'll contemplate the weird fragmented history of the city and how it has affected the physical geography: the many different neighborhoods with their distinct characters. I'll pine for the fabulous emphasis on culture and the arts (where else in the world is it easiest for artists to get visas and health insurance?!?). And I'll long for the late nightlife any day of the week, sidewalks overflowing with fruits and veggies and cheap but tasty immigrant take-out available on practically every block.

Yes, I'm amazed that I miss it, but whenever I do, here's what I do until the feeling passes. I remind myself that for a place with such non-interactive people, at least the weather is so bad (!!)

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