Note: This is a post I wrote a few weeks ago when Zac visited.
The day was grey. It started out thunderous and torrential.
The clouds moved in quickly and soaked up the atmosphere with a moist thickness that made me just as uncomfortable as describing something as “moist” and “thick”. Moist could actually be one of most awkward words in the dictionary. That is besides the point.
Everything was just heavy and wet and as the sky began to open up drenching the earth, I was soaked from head to toe by the downpour. I was carrying a flimsy umbrella but it did not matter. Water shot at me from the left and the right and above. It even shot at me from the ground! Large water droplets hurled their orbed bodies at the ground and bounced back up at me fiercely.
My jeans were soaked and my hair was wild due to the humidity. But I was actually the lucky one. Zac, the environmentalist, was wearing a “rain” jacket made out of an old parachute that he most likely bought for a lot of money at some sort of hippy love fest in San Francisco. I was just watching him walk toward me completely soaked from head to toe - his “rain” jacket plastered to his body - see through and clearly not water resistant. It was a hilarious sight and I could not stop laughing.
I had not laughed that hard in ages.
It stopped raining once we found shelter at the tram stop and Zac started a conversation with an old German woman who clearly could not understand him. It did not phase him one bit as nothing does. I think she fell in love with him, even with his booming American voice - maybe that was the attraction, a total disregard of volume and control. A kind of wild nature that a lot of traditional Germans don’t seem to possess. Maybe most “cold weather” Europeans in general.
Still soaking, we laughed and rode the tram together. I felt myself becoming uncomfortable as Zac started speaking to me because everyone on the tram was staring at us. I don’t know why this made me uncomfortable but I guess looking back, its because I didn’t want to stand out and be seen as a tourist. I hate when I am identified as anything besides German - even though I am obviously American. I hate to be identified as a US citizen because of the negativity that comes along with my nationality, however false and stereotypical.
We got off the tram and it started to rain again so we shared my umbrella and ran into the cafe nearby. Laughing about our luck then drinking a hot coffee, I was glad that there was some familiarity in my life - however brief. It was there and large and good, at least for a little while.
The first time I got turned away by the Berghain man, the whole thing was pretty grim. There were five of us, still grouchy from our disco naps, and we’d spent a very cold couple of hours in the queue. Person A had shaved half of Person B’s head a couple of evenings before in a drunken…
Kinda a jam packed day of doing everything and answering so many many support emails at work. This is a good soundtrack for the day. Listen won’t you?
Low Tides Vol.1
1. Tycho - Coastal Brake 2. Flying Lotus - Caravan Of Delight 3. HeRobust - Snail Gate 4. The Books - I Didn’t Know That 5. Baths - Lovely Bloodflow 6. Corduroi - You And Me (Future) 7. Zomby - Godzilla 8. WIN WIN - Interweave Ft. Alexis Taylor (XXXChange’s 1993 Mix) 9. Emeralds - Candy Shoppe 10. Onra - My Comet 11. Joy Orbison - The Shrew Would Have Cushioned The Blow 12. Machine Drum - Break Stylez 13. Selva Oscura - As Always 14. Dj Shadow - Midnight In A Perfect World
Barcelona en Tres Partes: d'Urgell / Parc Guell / La Platja
Parte Uno: Carrer de Comte d’Urgell
4am. Barcelona. Saturday morning after a Friday night out. Comte d’Urgell noventa uno. My body is burnt to a crispy roja and smells like sand, salt and dirt mixed together. Chocolate on my hands and doughy churros in my belly, I am satisfied. In fact, I have not felt better in months.
Clarity at the bottom of an empty churro bag. Happiness too.
A chill night with amazing people and quality conversation starting off at a rooftop Mobilee pool party and ending somewhere in the warehouse district of Barcelona. Something that had not happened in a while, but that I was so desperate for.
Before Barcelona, something was blocked in my mind. But here it has moved off somewhere.
La gente. La pasión. El corazón. Contagious warmth. Ease.
All something that can be felt in the air here and not something dark found on a dance floor surrounded by people with their eyes rolled to the back of their heads. It is that something. Just there. Easy to grasp. Easy to hold on to and not something that is looked down upon because it shows its true colors. Easy as the sun. Easy as the clouds. Easy as the waves in the sea.
But something. Something, something, something. In the music, in the streets, in the metro, on la platja. Something that makes me smile. That is enough. Can’t that be enough?
Parte Dos: Above the City
The burn didn’t sting in a bad way. It was triumphant and proud. Like after you get a tattoo, it itches and aches for weeks, but in the end it is what you wanted so you take pride in the pain. My skin had undergone a transformation overnight. From a dark blanca to a medium gold. My hair had bleached in the sun and my nose was bright red and felt tender to the touch. My lips still had traces of salt from my swim the day before and I kept licking them until they were soft and wet. Still remaining salty - maybe a little sweet too from the mango I had just eaten.
I wanted to stay like this forever in the shade. Happy, tan, with a clear mind.The first time it had been clear in months. Barcelona helped me remember . Remember myself. Not that I had forgotten, but I had not been true to myself since arriving in Berlin. I felt like a phony. Here, in this place, there is no room for being fake. Fake is sniffed out and swept under the rug or out the door with the morning garbage.
A breeze blew down from the mountain and I shivered a little. The hairs on my sunburnt legs stood straight up in protest of the cold. Already spoiled by two days in Barcelona. Two days under the full sun.
The sea was my favorite shade of blue. A kind of deep royal blue that mirrored the vast sky. A thin layer of clouds leaned against the horizon but the sun was still shining and the temperature was mild. It was perfect. I could see the whole city from where I sat under a medium sized modest palm tree in Parc Guell. I was listening to a band of gorgeous Spanish men tuning their instruments in preparation for their upcoming concerto and observing all the people around me.
Alone but completely wanting to be and so utterly content my smile could not be contained. The most beautiful man in the band had dark hair, piercing eyes and a smile that stretched jovially from ear to ear. He was playing the hand drum casually while leaning against a tree. I couldn’t stop staring at him and was enthralled by the fact that he seemed so self possessed and sure in all his movements. It was so attractive seeing that. It is rare.
The band started up. Playing music that made me so damn happy. Something like Salsa and Flamenco combined, but something very good. I could not control myself. The rhythm and music were infectious.
It drew me in like a moth to a flame and before I knew it I was dancing with the gorgeous drummer in front of 50 tourists. Shaking my hips, feeling completely free.
Parte Tres: La Platja y Michael Meyer
Midnight in Gracia drinking red wine with Joshua and his girlfriend. Spanish words flying around, sometimes I would catch something but most of the time I sat sipping the communal glass we passed around just listening to them. I could listen to Spanish all night and never get sick of it. The words just drip from the tongue onto the lips and they hit the air so perfectly. The Spanish language is sweet like honey. There is nothing harsh about it.
It was my last night in Barcelona and the first night I was to actually go out properly with my coworkers who had flown into Barcelona to hack together music applications, but for now I was sitting near la Fontana metro station drinking en la calle. The weather was mild, around 20 degrees maybe, the moon was shining bright and clouds were drifting lazily in front of it.
130 am and we were near La Rambla chasing a group of programmers and engineers to our next destination. A party on the beach. I was ready to dance, I was ready to move and I was prepared to spend my Sunday in a daze that I knew would come after the night ended. My flight was to leave at 10am and we were to stay out until 4 am, maybe 6am. Sleep was not prioritized, as it never is in Berlin or on weekends off. We chased down a cab. In Barcelona they are black and yellow resembling a swarm of bees buzzing through the streets.
"Libre" - We see the sign flash and flag down the free cab, hopping in letting my Spanish speaking friends do all the talking. Esta Bien - Alles Klar - Everything is good. We were in motion, finally on our way to the beach and I had three hours to dance until I needed to be back at the apartment to pack and get ready to go to the airport then finally back to Berlin. Finally home - even though I wasn’t sure if that was what I wanted a few days before, now it seemed like something perfect. The idea of my bed seemed so lovely.
In the cab we talked about how my friend just quit his job. It was for the best we all agreed. We talked with empty words to fill the gap between the cab ride and the beach, I almost fell asleep. Joshua passed me the bottle of wine. 15 minutes and we fell out of the cab onto the beach running into my coworkers. For 20 minutes we waited in line for a party that was priced 35 Euros for admission and turned out to in fact, be the wrong party. The beach party was next door and we missed the dj that Johan wanted to see but I think he had already seen two times during the weekend. I still have no idea who any of these djs are at all that have been here during the weekend. These men who are so celebrated and idolized. That fact does not bother me even in the slightest.
We reached the right side of the beach where our party was at. A flicker of light in the distance dotted with outlines of the human form swaying. Michael Meyer greeted us with pulsating bass and lots of character. I was pleasantly surprised by him. We pushed past the crowd unapologetically and ended up at the front of the dance floor wildly moving to the beat. People pushed passed us just as unapologetically so we moved on top of a stage right next to a speaker and a giant illuminated ball that lit us up. Meyer was casually doing some sort of fist pump dance move (he looked so German). I emulated it in an attempt to gain approval from my German coworkers. Actually that is a joke…I didn’t give a shit, I just thought it was funny so I did it.
I moved. Hips swinging, head moving, legs moving, arms moving. Moving, moving, moving. Alex and I danced together and Johan moved to the front of the stage showing off his dance moves. I think he could easily get a job as a go go dancer. No problem. Easy.
3am and the party is supposed to be over, but the crowd refused to go home so Meyer continued to play into the night. The music selection was great. We danced more and more. There was more room because people had left to head onto the next party (there is always a next party) but this was good for us and we carved out a spot for ourselves on the dance floor. I could finally freely move and so I did. I stripped off my leather jacket. That meant business and we moved like crazy to the beat.
330am and everything is over. The music is off, Meyer says a humble thank you and goodbye and I followed Johan to the beach where he halfway jumps in. The water was black, cold.
4am. Cab home. At the apartment by 420am and I peel myself out of my white dress and fall into bed. Time to sleep. Sleep comes easily and I dream in Spanish (maybe Spanglish) about the beach and the bass and summer nights and red wine and music.
830am. On a bus to the aeropuerto. In a daze, red eyes. Time to go home.
My mom in under the assumption that I party way too much in Berlin. This is not totally the case…but this weekend it was and now I am in a state of permaexhaust that came at me like a ton of bricks. So I am taking it easy and listening to musik sans bass.
"Delicate Position" (ft. Sea Oleena) by Wintercoats is perfect for this moment.
I was on the tram and the sun was finally dipping into the horizon. Although in Berlin the horizon is obscured by the tall buildings that jut into the sky, so the only evidence of night came from the dark blue that took over the orange. It was pretty.
I was looking at the people on the tram. They were mostly all red and freshly sun-burnt due to the onset of summer that just arrived abruptly. Pink noses and peeling shoulders. Blank expressions. On the tram and the U bahn and S bahn, expressions always seem to be blank. It is like no one wants to be noticed and no one wants to make eye contact. I guess it is uncomfortable sitting an inch from a total stranger or worse, sitting across from one, but sometimes I smile at people just to make them feel more awkward. Most of the time I just sit and stare at someone a few rows ahead of me and I try to figure out what they are thinking. Maybe they are thinking big thoughts, but maybe they aren’t. Who knows. But I like to think that they are having "moments" on their tram ride. Like real philosophical moments. I think having a moment like that on a tram is kinda beautiful. It makes more sense to me then having one on a big mountain or by a stream or something - that is too easy. A tram seems more real.
So I was looking out the window and the tram came to a halt. The lady in front of me fell to the side then quickly regained her balance. She looked slightly embarrassed and I lent her a smile to lean on. She awkwardly smiled back, then quickly averted her attention to a fixed point somewhere on the floor. I didn’t see anything interesting down there to look at so I continued to look out the window as we cruised up Prenzlauer Allee.
Trams make the best noises. I wish I could bottle the noise of the tram and have it play on a loop while I am sleeping. The sound of the tram is so smooth and fast. That is not so descriptive, I know…but a tram sounds like a tram. It is just so nice. It sounds like the way a city should sound. It fits. I was thinking about the sound and kinda drinking it in sorta. Just staring out the window as we sailed along the street towards my new home. I was feeling all emotional as I drifted off somewhere deep inside my head.
This week had been strange and weird and felt funny and not in a good way. My best day was Thursday. I spent it with two of the greatest guys I know in Berlin (Lorenzo and Niklas) and we went to a lake to the Southwest called Wannsee. It was so nice, but now on this tram ride home all I could feel was this kind of strange emptiness; whereas only a day before I felt so full. I don’t know what I was full of before but it sure beat the feeling I was experiencing on the tram.
I had just said goodbye to Niklas; one of the nicest most genuine people I have met so far in Berlin. A kind of guy who tended to go unappreciated, but I appreciated him a lot. I was feeling sad having said goodbye to him and I am terrible at goodbyes. Goodbyes leave me so melancholy and introspective and down and I hate that. So sometimes it is easier for me just to bypass that whole thing, but that is cowardly and being a coward is something I strive to never be so I sucked it up and said goodbye and had to deal with the bit that comes after. Saying goodbye to Niklas made me think about my friends in America as well and after I thought about them, there was no stopping the ensuing sadness.
So I continued to stare out the window and I felt so alone on that tram packed with sunburnt Germans. I was having some sort of moment, then I came back to where I was and climbed out of my mind real quickly and looked around. There was a baby with a very blonde head staring at me. Staring at me just like I stare at everyone. She giggled when we caught each others eyes and I kinda snapped out of my moody moment. Such blue eyes and little hands. She giggled again and I made a face at her. I think my sadness started melting away with each look she gave me and all I could feel was something good.
My stop came over the loud speaker and I gathered my bag up. The tram came to a halt and I jumped out. Walking towards my flat I immediately chose Maxence Cyrin “Where is my Mind” to leak slowly into my headphones as I settled into the night.
Hey, I just wanted to say that I'm in love with your Blog, I'm from DC and I just moved to Berlin myself, this city is amazing, doesn't compare to any city in my opinion. Anyway keep up the great posts, I'll definetly be doing a lot of re blogging :)
Welcome to Berlin! Ya I just moved here and seriously love it :) Thanks for the nice words!