My mother, fond of delivering the dullest of banalities in triumphal fishwife tones, would always say, bad things happen in threes. And of course, that means after two bad things, it's impossible for me to breathe easy until the third thing happens. The problem then becomes, that, sunk in a morass of dread, I can never decide if something bad is quite bad enough to count. This time, it started with an EasyJet flight cancellation on Wednesday, through a weird series of circumstances in which I never should have been caught in the first place, followed by a second on Thursday due to nothing more exotic than a crew shortage, but which EasyJet (a company based in England, which was to fly me from Berlin to Madrid) blamed on the pilot strike in France.
Thursday night I ended up in an airport hotel for the first time since my last "real" job that ended three and a half years ago, feeling acutely the strange disconnect between my nationality (US), my home (Berlin), my residence (Spain), my identity (malcontent) and my past (dutiful worker bee). Now, despite that strange old feeling of being too "between" places and identities, things would not be that bad except for the sense of dread which started on Thursday morning, growing more acute throughout the day, which turned out to be well-founded, because the 375-euro replacement Iberia flight I booked out of frustration is running nearly four hours late. I'm spending my third afternoon in a Berlin airport, but this time will be a marathon session. Does that count as sufficiently bad to be the third thing, or should I expect this flight to go down somewhere in the Pyrenees?
Listen, Berlin, it's time to let me go, really. The love affair hasn't begun to end, don't worry; I'll be back in less than a month. The days, quickly lengthening, will be longer than in Madrid. The cherry trees in Mauer Park and at the Prenzlauer Allee planetarium will start to bud. The inches of black ice on the sidewalks will be long gone and cycling will be possible again. And the Germans, those stalwart creatures, will populate the sidewalk cafes that will spring up at the least hint of mild weather. Berlin, don't forget, absence ALWAYS makes the heart grow fonder. Bis bald, meine Liebe.