oh berlin, your heart has been drawn & quartered again…


hallo from berlin! wow. i never thought i’d type that sentence. so strange, that this city has been here all along, but in 29 years i never gave much thought to it, and now that i’m here i know i will always miss it in my bones. just one day, not even. we steamrolled in here at 10 AM, after a tossing-and-turning night in which 8 people (6 adults and 2 toddlers) slept, or attempted to sleep, in a 7′ by 7′ foot train compartment. i still feel like i’m on the train when i sit down, still feel the shifting of the ground even though it’s not actually shifting at all.

i have slept 5 hours of the last 50, no exaggeration, so if i type anything that sounds especially stupid it is the sleep dep talking for sure. where to even begin. my brain wants sleep so that’s all i can think about. the last time i genuinely slept was wednesday morning, when i woke up to a cute boy and a gray day in pittsburgh, in a life that seems so impossible now, and so impossible that it was mine. another quadrant of the globe. less than three days ago. and i’m so far away, so far far far away from that….

first paris, tired tired tired but so bright & vibrant that i couldn’t help but be inspired, so packed with beautiful people and things. paris in a whirlwind, paris in fourteen hours because that was all the time i had, between my plane landing and our train to berlin leaving. my sister’s been in france for almost a year  now, teaching english, and my dad & brother came out here five days ago, and now the four of us are together, hurtling towards something that is much bigger than all of us. this trip was supposed to be just me & the sibs, but our dad crashed it, kinda. he is  not the kind of guy who likes to travel or cares about culture beyond american TV & radio hits. maybe he knows something we don’t? traveling with him has had a lot of ups & downs. he’s very funny & charming, good at meeting people. but he is a tourist, in every sense of the word, not understanding no matter how many times we tell him that talking english loudly to people who don’t understand english is not going to get him anywhere. he doesn’t want to do anything besides the most tourist-trap things, expensive and full of mean-spirited grumps from other places, and doesn’t understand why we want to do other things, interact with the city on a more intense level. and i hadn’t realized how much his health is failing until now. so i am trying to treasure this interaction with him, because i know when he is gone i will think of it a lot. and whether that’s in one year or twenty, it’s important.

anyway. the four of us + a sweet, interesting frenchman we met on the train, drinking polish vodka with room-temperature coke in the tiny berth & sharing stories as france whizzes by in the dusk. my dad said, “i’m always gonna remember this,” to me, when no one else was paying attention. it was a nice moment. i think i always will, too.

but, berlin! berlin! we are here. so many bikes & so much graffiti. so overwhelming, being in a country where you can’t speak the language at all, or even come close to deciphering. ( and it’s gonna get worse–my sister & i are going to poland & lithuania next week, after the dudes in our family fly home! eek, what were we thinking?) it’s teaching me so much, about how to learn to be in the world without language. language is so important to me, but so is being pushed outta my comfort zone. sure hope that sign wasn’t too important, sure hope that “danke schon!” was the correct thing to say to that cashier. just smile! smile, because i’m here and not there, and here is scary and frustrating for sure, but also so amazing, i mean, i never thought i’d really get here.

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