Some cities shut you out from the moment you exit the airport. Stone-grey facades and shuttered windows, dusty parks and endless rows of peeling posters keeping you at a safe distance. But not Berlin. This city wants you to love it and you crumble, with no regret.
Berlin bowed to meet us as soon as we arrived. Welcoming us with leafy green boughs bobbing in the breeze, soft sunlight catching golden glints in the beards of passing men and red-cheeked women coasting the curves on tall bikes, scarves carefully tucked around their necks.
Our first afternoon was spent on the sidewalks of Kreuzberg, eating hot, fresh falafel and chatting in the way that only jet lagged people can. Detours and distractions coming easily, with the circus of passerby traffic providing fodder to keep the conversation afloat. And there was sun.
When I left Montreal, I was exhausted. Not only because work had been intense in recent months, but also because a pulled muscle prevented me from practicing yoga throughout the month of April and my writing routine fell apart somewhere along the way. Compounded with our recent Quebec elections, a nail-biter of a playoff series with the Boston Bruins, the tragic death of a cyclist in my neighbourhood and a thousand other things that assail a living, loving human being.
My system was overloaded with a slew of observations, ideas, tasks and dreams that needed to be digested, compressed and flushed. So my goal, upon arriving in Berlin, was to not think. Not only is that a split infinitive, but it’s also inaccurate. More precisely, I wanted to slow down the whirlpool of thoughts that clouds my mind and restore clear, running waters.
Because Berlin is so welcoming – and I know so little German – the last few days have greatly calmed the waters in my mind. I’ve been immersing myself in the sensual experience of simply being. I enjoy the sting of espresso on my tongue. I pick up the cadence of German, the hard Ks, plentiful Us and long Ss creating lines and structures in the air around me. I walk to the yoga studio, stopping to take in the smell of vanilla coming from the bakery on the corner. I bike up and lift up in the seat to brush the leaves of low-hanging trees. I see the golden gilded wings of a monument angel, the silvery ribbons tied in rows through a chain link fence, the towering black lines of urban art…
My brain is gathering. And, not surprisingly, I am writing again.