I've finally found a place to stay in Berlin.
Charlie has family guests in his room for my first month in the city, so two weeks ago I started scouring Craigslist for a place of my own. It has been a process. I've realized something about myself: I'm totally afraid of people being psychotic. Or rapists. Or vaguely creepy in any way. I really didn't know I was so wary of people.
I thought I was used to expecting the best and giving the benefit of the doubt, of trusting until I have a reason not to. I've gotten lots of apartments through newspapers and online before but I guess I've always been able to meet people face to face before deciding to live with them and taking the chance that they have some sort of borderline personality disorder.
I knew that I can make myself comfortable anywhere and can call a different place home every night of the week without a worry. I use the term "home" loosely. I'm carrying two things in my backpack that I'm putting out wherever I stay on this trip to signify that I'm home, however temporary that home may be:
1. The small resin-covered photograph that Sunny gave me of Lulu and Hugo sitting on the Chicago front porch. 2. The blue and orange fish and waves fabric that Sara gave me. When these two items come out of the backpack and I've "decorated", I'll know I'm home. This is my new ritual and I like this.
There were several times on Craigslist when I thought I was emailing a woman because the name wasn't gender-specific. And when I found out it was a guy, I'd start feeling suspicious. Why is his price so good? Is that part of his plan to lure me in and do something scary? I'M ONTO HIM.
Charlie wrote to ask how the search was going. I told him that the only person who wanted me to stay with him was a 40-year-old man who probably wanted to assault me and I'm not in the mood to cut off anyone's balls, so I said no thanks. I wonder how much I'm overreacting.
I should mention that people were equally wary of me. We'd strike an agreement and I'd be set to give them money to hold the room but when I told them I wasn't in Berlin yet and would have to wire the cash if they needed it immediately, they'd back out. I suppose I sound like a scam, another fictional prince of Nigeria.
Two days ago, I found Simone, a native Berliner in her 30s, a German language teacher and dancer. Her apartment isn't in Kreuzberg or Friedrichshain, the neighborhoods I was targeting, but it's not far, in Prenzlauer Berg. And she has an extra bicycle that I can borrow. Score.