So I was waiting outside the apartment building where I’m renting a little studio for two weeks from Dee-Dee, an Australian expat in Berlin. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, it’s snowing tree fur and Dee-Dee rides up the cobblestones on her bike with her little orange dog running, unleashed, behind her. Welcome to Berlin, the Fire Island of Germany.
Dee-Dee suggests I rent a bike for my stay—why hassle with a metro ticket (apparently Berliners buy yearly passes, so no one’s down there—is it down?—fumbling with the ticket machines; instead they’re riding down the strasses and platzs with their shirts off).
It took me three airlines flights to get here, three countries and nineteen hours (I’m saving my pennies for another European trip this summer—get ready), so I’m a little tired, but I want to go out and explore. I’ll just say that 1) it’s nice to be in foreign city that doesn’t hate Americans, and, more important, 2) it’s nice to be in a culture that’s not American. I didn’t know how claustrophobic I was feeling: everybody doing the same thing, thinking the same thing, wearing the same thing, wanting the same thing, struggling the same way, etc.
While I was in the Frankfurt airport, which is sterile—and by that I don’t mean clean—and eerily quiet, I started thinking about this collective karma we countrymen have—Americans have theirs, Europeans have theirs. I was thinking about how you can see it when you leave your culture and enter another. But imagine if all of us humans could leave the collective human culture, and see it from the outside, fresh. For one thing, we’d see how narrowly we’re living, and how many weird rules we all came up with together. (Uch, can I just mention the very elegantly dressed old man eating a salad and chocolate croissant in the Frankfurt airport—he was so hungry he was shaking. How do we bear it, life?)
That’s it. Off to find the health food store and the bike place. Off to see how much Haushka costs here. Off to maybe have the opportunity to experience my life as brand new again.