I feel now as if I'm living in Berlin and not just visiting. Several days this week I didn't leave the apartment until 5pm because I was writing and reading and eating whatever I had in the fridge as long as it was drenched in olive oil. Why I'm currently obsessed with olive oil I'm not sure, but I had to buy a new bottle because I drained the old one. I know that my relationship with olive oil changed on the day I walked around West Berlin. I wasn't actually turned on by most of the Charlottenburg neighborhood but I might have just been coming down from the salad I'd eaten in the Schleusenkrug beer garden.
The sun was blazing so I'd found a half-shaded table. I ordered a glass of Chianti and took in the breeze, the dappled wooden table, and thanked the lord I wasn't part of the tour group on the other side of the tree. I was so glad that I was alone and not with 45 people and a chirpy leader. I listened to chirpy leader answer questions and give instructions and wondered if I sound like that when I'm leading groups. I decided that no, even I wanted to be like that, the most I'm capable of is a sarcastic imitation of a chirp.
A waiter delivered my salad and I began eating and realizing that there's been a gaping hole in my life, a hole that needs to be stuffed with herbed feta and olives. MY GOODNESS. I haven't usually been eating like a German and I'm mostly okay with this. I'll probably have schnitzel before I leave and I'm not opposed to plum schnapps but when I'm in the grocery store, I don't buy the pork salad because I know what pork pieces and mayonnaise taste like: pink vomit, exactly what I'll turn it into.
I feel like I live here now because I have my favorite grocery (Kaiser's) and my favorite brand of salted pecans and yogurt. I've checked out so much of the city that I can walk an hour in almost any direction, take a left or right, and sooner or later I'll run into a street I recognize. My formerly broken compass is BACK.
I feel like I live here because I left the house at 5pm today in my pajamas. Granted, they're not immediately recognizable as PJs - they're not printed with images of cupcakes or teddy bears - they're yoga pants. But I couldn't be bothered to change or take a bath. I just pulled my hair back in a ponytail and kept on the Aerosmith t-shirt I slept in for the last two nights and left.
I counted up how many people I care about making an impression on in Berlin - yep, still zero - and walked west. I did, at the last minute, throw on my trench coat since the yoga pants are a little too ass-centric for my comfort in public, my only concession.
If I'd felt like I were visiting, I might have gotten more dressed up and would have planned my attack on the marrow of the city. Now, with time behind and more time ahead, I'm just as content attacking my own marrow: writing in my room and not spending every second outside.
Last weekend my roommate Simone asked me what I'd done the night before. I told her that I read on the couch until I passed out. "That's a big decision," she said, "not to go out on a Saturday night."
"Oh," I said, "I haven't had a Monday to Friday schedule in a long time so I don't really care about days of the week."
I went to the Minus party at Watergate (Thanks, Matthew Cooper) a few nights ago and feel perfectly fine geeking out until the next good thing comes along. I'm actually extremely selective about getting into antics and half the time am happier staying home. I'm not a party animal by whatever means necessary, I'm a party animal when I think there's an excellent reason to be one.
I read in one of my books that there's a sausage stand that sells organic hot dogs or BIO-SAUSAGE SNACKS. And I thought I'd put down the brick of tofu for a moment and act like a German. I would buy a bio-sausage. I don't know what made me think chomping on an organic sausage would be so vastly different from one with rat tails and mice fur in it but I'll tell you, it seems exactly the same except that you get to feel self-righteous while eating.
The guy handed me my bio-sausage, a long pencil dick of a hot dog, in a paper boat with a plop of mustard and ketchup. He also handed me a crusty dinner roll but no fork or knife. We all know I don't know how to say fork or knife so I just smiled and walked around the corner to stare at it. I didn't like the idea of dipping the pencil dick in the condiments with my fingers so I walked back to the counter to see if there was plasticware sitting out. Nope. I bought a Coke Zero as a front for my return and then found a park bench out of the vendor's sight.
I decided what I needed to do was rip open the crusty roll and stuff the bio-sausage inside. It would be a bun, it would. Crusty rolls, being crusty, are also flaky and messy and soon a few birds were pecking the ground near my feet.
When I noticed, I jumped up and shook my shirt out because all I needed to make this eating experience more awkward was to be attacked by a flock of birds. Finally, FINALLY, the bio-sausage was curled up inside the "bun" and I ate it.