The fates had me here. I went to Centraal Station in Amsterdam to get a ticket to London, however that proved IMPOSSIBLE with such late notice.
Ticket Attendant: You can't get to London until Monday at the earliest, all of the seats are reserved.
Me: Damn. No chance at all? (it was Wednesday)
TA: No. I am sorry, but you need to book these things in advance.
Me: Um...how about Zurich? Could I get to Zurich?
TA: One moment...unfortunately, no.
Me: Ok. How about Berlin?
TA: You're flexible? That is good. Going to Berlin is no problem.
Me: You've got to be flexible when it appears the Fates are at work.
Me: A ticket to Berlin, please!
I spent a few days (June 30-July 5) in Berlin and stayed with my dear friend from Pratt Institute, LJ, at her flat in East Berlin. Horatio, another friend from Pratt, came up from Essen to see me while I was in Germany. This was the very FIRST host that I was directly connected to! It was nice to have that familiarity, the ease of conversation or silence, that comes with an older relationship. That's not to say that I don't enjoy cultivating and planting seeds of friendship, but this was just a much-needed pre-established connection.
Horatio and I strolled from outer East Berlin toward what was once the communist city centre. In the pouring rain. Two and a half hours. We stopped into a photography exhibition of Sibylle Bergemann at C/O Berlin - learn more about her on the link below... ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sibylle_Bergemann ) The exhibition was wonderful! It made me want to purchase a camera ASAP to take beautiful, sensitive photographs just as Sibylle had. There were some inspiring quotes, too:"It's the fringes of the world that interest me, not its center. THe non-interchangeable is my concern. When there is something in faces or landscapes that doesn't quite fit." -Sibylle Bergmann"Being a child means existing in a state of expectation, anticipating the fairy tale of life." -Jutta Voigt
I feel that I might be a child, as Jutta Voigt describes one, for I'm always looking at life as though it is a fairytale with every single day containing a bit of magic.
I could feel the dark energy of Berlin's past and it began to weigh me down a bit, making me a tad more exhausted every day. I spent some time alone wandering from LJ's flat in outer East Berlin to West Berlin with few special encounters/connections. I found it interesting that there is still a bit of sensitivity toward WWII - the Germans that I spoke to exhibited a desire to break free of the "Nazi" stereotype that history has placed on them. Though, I was surprised to discover that there are a LOT of neo-Nazis in Germany, just outside of Berlin. It's got to be difficult to break a stereotype when your countrymen are just perpetuating it...
I did make two friends at a club on the Spree - one of them began our conversation by espousing Virginia Woolf's romantic death by saying, "I should like to throw myself into this river and be drowned, to let the water take me away." We discussed art and literature. She invited me to share her flat in Berlin if I wanted to stay (to live) there.
I don't believe I want to live in Berlin.
All in all: Berlin is like a HUGE, much much darker Brooklyn (in NYC); clubs open on Friday night and don't close until Monday morning; Germany is less expensive than other countries in Western Europe.
I left Berlin in the same way that I came to it - with an unclear direction and allowing the Fates to guide me. I went to the train station, asked about trains to Zurich (which were full, again) and asked for the next train to Paris. An hour later, I was riding the ICE back to my darling Paris.
I met a gentleman from Canada in the train galley (can you call it that when not on a ship?) who asked me if he could possibly be an artist. What am I supposed to say to that? I told him that I think that he needs to work, work, work to make art but that there's a degree of madness that comes with being an artist; perhaps he has it, perhaps not.
The Scottish (a bit rough) gentleman seated next to me in my train car told me these useful things:
1) "Listen to your heart not your mind because your mind is a fucking fear machine - it prevents you from doing what's important and if you listen to year head all of the time you're fucked."
2) "Keep BALANCE in your life. This is the key. Think about what you need to feel fucking stable, whatever those aspects are, and make sure you keep everything balanced."
3) (after I told him that I think I love too deeply and a bit too passionately) "So what? You love. This is what's important is that you LOVE. If you love until it hurts you and you feel deeply and you care and you give, then it's great. Don't try to keep your heart from loving. Loving to pain is better than not loving at all...some people don't ever love."