Berlin, and thoughts that follow her

The last six months have been intense to say the least. (Luckily, intensity is something like water to me, it refreshes and nourishes and keeps me moving. Never drama, never chaos, but intensity, the quieter the better. Bring me eyes locked in conversation, 7 billion others excluded from the split second it takes to connect. Bring me a dizzying rush, be it emotional, physical or pharmacological, and let me swoon backwards into it. Bring me mornings that are pure awakening and lyrical sunlight; evenings made headier with wine and fresh air; nights of Shivaistic consumption and creation. Of course I have lazy days, and normal evenings, and I love them like I love small children. But intensity is what makes my skin sing.)

I’ve become sidetracked.

Berlin got its claws into me again and dug plenty deeper this time than before. It reached something far below the surface of my person and altered it, largely for the better, adding a foundation that was lacking and filing away some of the more uneven spots. I’m certainly steadier, less neurotic, and more confident. But I also worry sometimes that I’ve become steely, unromantic, less kind. That is my fear, anyway, until I catch myself snorting with laughter at a stupid pun, jittering with warmth for a hurting friend, or relishing a poppy-seed cake while the sun blasts down on the river. And then I find that the adorable, doggedly resilient, perpetually guileless girl is still in there like she’s always been. She’s just a little different now, more real and like a person, more of a woman, and for that I thank Berlin. In any case, this state of being enmeshed with a city is making it quite hard for me to leave now.

Forgive me something like a poem (I’ve been reading a lot of Rilke lately and so my thoughts keep slipping into iambs). It wasn’t written to be good, it was written to communicate how a moment can feel.

There’s People here to make my Heart beat. Trees to pull me to their Trunks
to lean against the Bark and daydream, Rain to drive me behind Windows,
Sun to draw me to the Earth, black Maws to chew me up and spit me
out in early Daylight dazed and stumbling, happy that I braved their
Jaws and feeling I’m at Home for once, right here… I’m on my Bike and
soaring through the City, past the Spree, along the U1 Tracks
above me, and for once I’m just right here, right now.
An urgent, certain Movement towards the Dawn.

So, pulling Berlin’s claws out one by one is painful and leaves me feeling quite punctured, albeit not deflated. But those wounds will heal, as all wounds do, and I know I’ve got to go. Staying for people is daft, because people leave, and Berlin’s not going anywhere, so I can come back next year after my masters. I likely will, and those people who don’t leave will stay and I’ll see them again. I can’t imagine being anywhere else right now but Berlin; maybe Reykjavik, but that’s about it, and even there I’m not as sure as I used to be. I’ve never felt like this before, it’s a little like being in love for the first time. It blocks my sight. I have to push past Berlin to see it as it truly is, and decide if I like what I see (You’ll have to thank Rilke for that image too. So much Rilke in my head.)

Back to the plot, and where I’m off to next. First it’s Oxford for another round of chiding surly teenagers and bolstering tentative ones, corralling them onto and off buses, warily watching them drift towards adulthood and pulling on the rope when they drift too far, too fast. Following that, and after three weeks of nothing in particular (probably spent in Cologne and Berlin), I’m probably flying to Edinburgh in September to begin training as an anthropologist. As I said, I’m planning on returning to Berlin afterwards because PhDs are far more affordable in Germany and because I’m looking forward to staying in one place for a little bit… but what if Edinburgh grabs me by the gonads and smears away all thoughts of Berlin? Wilder things have taken place.

It’ll be good to tie on a different mask for a few months in any case; I like Berlin-Fiona but there’s more to me than her, and I’m curious to see what Edinburgh-Fiona will be like. Hopefully their daughter will be someone I, and the people I love, can stand to have a drink with at the very least.

All will be revealed.

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