04/08: an end – unpublished chapter
04/08: an end.
I am writing this in east berlin. it is raining softly. the skies, however, look like they are about to clear. there is a hum of traffic from a nearby street. from my balcony I can see four silent staring statues, perched on the roof next to mine, dark with soot.
I go home on Wednesday. I don’t know what I am supposed to do there. there is some type of beginning, but I can’t see it, not yet.
the rain has stopped. the sun. here it comes. blinding, brilliant.
some type of beginning. my thoughts are heavy with it. I am nervous. I remember the last one so well.
I remember its excitement, its inevitability. I had spent years placing circumstance onto careful circumstance until they formed a fine point, and I knew exactly where I was. all I had to do was step onto a plane and into an exact thing. the openness of what lies ahead is uncomfortable. it doesn’t feel like it fits as well. too loose.
it is particular to each epoch that its people consider theirs the most important, their power and responsibility unique. for us, however, it is true. and it is not just because we are fighting over diminishing energy supplies in a warming world, or because we are facing epidemics of obesity at the same time as we struggle with famine. ours is the most important because we won’t be around for the other ones. for us, this is it.
I used the analogy of the old black and white television before. i had one when i was a kid. downstairs. once you turned it off, it went from a flurry of beautiful blurred hurried stories, flashflashflash, to a bright white dot, brilliant in its intensity and focus, that slowly faded to black. it is how i think about the difference between life and death. one minute we are bursting with energy, atp popping off like kernels of corn, everything a million miles an hour, and the next we are concentrated to a singular point that grows fainter and fainter until it finally disappears. the good part is that life continues on just as brightly elsewhere. just not my channel.
when I was leaving last year, suffering through false start after delay, people were wondering if I planned to leave at all. one of my friend took to calling the long series of departure events my “going away jubilee”. some suspected me of fostering sympathy in order to perpetuate parties. that was partly untrue.
the coming home jubilee has started in earnest. berlin is simply its first stop. the soft stop date is Halloween, three months from now. however, if I can keep up the momentum through November and dovetail onto the Christmas/new year’s season, it might end in early 2008.
before I end this post, I wanted to offer an apology about the blog. as much as I wanted to write the story of sudan, I never did. the story of the country is complex and requires a lesson in its history since independence in 1956. for reasons of security, this was not my story to tell. nor am i a sudan scholar. others can bring that knowledge to you. i could not. i did, however, write lines. i hope you read between them.
alright. that’s it for me. it is dark. the statues are just silhouettes; behind them, berlin shines. let the jubilee begin. good night.
The sun is coming up. I can see the warm glow over the Spree. I guess that must be East.
The horizon’s black edge melts further away. I am sitting on a floating patio, smoking a cigarette. Inside the glass walls of the nightclub in front of me, I can see people dancing on its two floors still full despite the hour. Perhaps because of it. A woman stumbles out of the door, leading her boyfriend by his hand, and I can hear the high twitter of techno. It closes, and the dawn is again silent except for the soft murmurs of people gathered on the wooden bench fringing the patio.
Most of them are in groups of two or three, leaning into each other, having quiet conversations. I am alone. Inside, I left Simon talking to a girl. He seemed to be doing well; she was laughing, anyway. She had a friend who was looking at me, wondering if I would start a conversation. I told her I was going to get a beer, then came outside. That was half an hour ago.
It’s better out here. Sunrise. I can feel the dew settle on the hairs on my arm. I put my sunglasses on, and the world is minty. Blue blockers. From LA. Simon.
The patio is L-shaped and I am sitting at its corner. To my right two women are being charmed by two men, their sunglasses perched on their heads. They look like models. The men say something in Italian, and the girls giggle. Across from me a man my age, his hair in short dreadlocks, is rolling a cigarette.
“Hey man, you got a light?”
I fish in my pocket, hand him some matches.
He leans back, blows his smoke into the air and stares at the sky. He turns back to me.
“So. What do you think?” His accent is American.
I shrug. “I came her to see M.A.N.D.Y. They were good. You?”
“Well, I never come here usually. Especially on weekends. But, well, I guess I’m here.”
“Where you from?”
Yeah, and I’m from Sudan.
“I mean originally.”
“So why Berlin?”
“It’s cheap. The partying is crazy.”
“I can see that.”
“Where are you from?”
“Here on vacation?”
He nods, draws on his cigarette, looks around for better company. Finding none he turns his attention back to me.
“There’s a good party tonight too.”
The day is almost fully revealed, the entire sky, except for the most distant western meniscus, is drawn dawn blue. A pigeon flies over my head, on her lonely way, and disappears a black dot.
“I can’t go though. I gotta work.”
“No shit. That’s too bad.”
“Yeah, I’m a guide. A tour guide. You know, for English speaking people. Americans and stuff.”
“Right. That makes sense.”
“What do you do?”
I don’t know.
“Where’s that party tonight?” I ask.
He scribbles down the address on a piece of paper and hands it back to me. He glances to the girls to my side. Their conversation has ebbed, the men sit between them, like piano keys.
“Lot’s a girls here, hey?”
“Yeah man. Crazy.”
He finishes his cigarette and tosses it over the side. It sizzles out.
“Well. I should bounce. I gotta go to work.”
“Well, I’ll go shower first.”
“Right. Well, good to meet you. Thanks for the tip.”
“I might see you there. You never know.” He smiles, revealing a mouth full of chipped brown teeth.
“No. You never do.”
With one last glance at the models, he walks slowly up the stairs and opens the door. Twittering techno. Above him, on the second floor, a woman dances, her back to the flat glass. To her left, one by one, someone is drawing the shades.
Twittering techno. Takka-takka-takka. Simon, his sunglasses pushed back on his head, a beer in each hand. He hands me one.
“Thought you might know what to do with this.”
“What is it?”
“I don’t know. I saw someone drinking one earlier, so I had one.”
“What was it like?”
“Well, it didn’t taste very good at first.”
“Everything started to get amazing.”
“Nice out here,” he says, threading his long arms through the wooden slats behind him.
“Yeah dude,” I say.
Dawn has happened, and with it, the wind has risen, rippling the river into bright glinting waves. In a rush, I am tired. Desperately tired. I imagine myself standing up, falling back, letting the water slap me, and sinking into the icy black river.
Slap. Huuuhhhppp. Flail. Brightness above. Flail. Huuhhhhhhhppp.
“Whaddya say? You up for Berghain?” Simon asks.
“No, man. I wanna go. You?”
“I’m cool. Let’s go.”
We drain our beers, stand up. The models have gone. We climb the wooden stairs, and open the glass door.