Oct. 10, 2006: Berlin

Oct. 10, 2006

    I think I’ve fallen in love with Berlin. Now I’m beginning to see why so many people end up here. The longer the stay the more I am impressed with it. It may not be beautiful like Vienna or San Francisco, but culturally, I rarely see anything like this. So much art and theater and music and social commentary, so many not-for-profit projects, people’s kitchens serving really good food for a euro or two, parties happening all night every night, meeting people from all over the world, organic food sections in most big shops, parks, bike lanes, dogs off leashes, public transport all night long, squats and community spaces, food and housing collectives, sliding scale language school, volunteer bike repair shops, the list goes on and on.
    Despite the 17% unemployment rate, I don’t see people living in the underpass. Most folks speak several languages. They tend to make eye contact, and not just when they’re hitting on you. I’ve been offered so many couches I think I could surf here for a year. Yes, Berlin is toward the top of my list of places I could live in the world. And I’d love to see it in the summertime, when it’s light out ’til almost midnight.
    The history of course is fascinating, too, and is probably behind why it has turned into the kind of city it has. So many years of being a unique international world unto itself. I am staying a few blocks away from the remains of the wall and ride my bicycle by it every day, and I always imagine what it must have been like a few decades ago. I’m fascinated by stories of what it was like when it came down, or how life was under the GDR. (My favorite was a friend who was hacking away at the wall in the middle of the night at that crazy moment in history, when a woman yelled at them to please stop, she was trying to sleep. "Should we stop?" they wondered. How metaphorical is that?)
    So I decided to stay another week, but I really am coming home next Monday or Tuesday. Living in Berlin will have to wait for another chapter in my life. But I did decide to make German language number 4 (I have to get Italian down first) and someday I’ll be back.

love y’all,