I am seeing the Berliners, wearing what they love. Very occassionally - an item from the latest fashion, but mostly, wrapped up in warm coats and boots and in sweater over dress over jeans, and sometimes, in punk.
I want to say Ich bin ein Berliner al lot, or really, I want to say out loud Kennedy’s whole line All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words 'Ich bin ein Berliner!'. I am here, I am from here, I am back, translating, again, still, and everything else is a year ago, two years ago, another time.
I can see groups of friends, smoking, talking about their uni life (but not as loudly as Dutch students would). The girls coloured their hair red, or black. The boys wear sjawls, army colours, anything.
I could have just staid here, far away, between before and now. I could have saved myself trouble, sitting by the window, writing, being elsewhere, being one of those who belong nowhere and therefore everywhere, being ein Berliner. I could have avoided returning, avoided fears of being somewhere less exciting, being someone less intriguing than a citizen of the world, could have avoided fears which came out and hit me, but then, I would not have known. I wanted to live here, badly, but not now, not so much.
I can perceive the families, with their teenage boys, too long and too shy and too self-conscious. They walk up the street together, the father holding the map, the oldest son opening a rugsack to grab his ipod. They sit at the table next to us in the restaurant, the mother smiling with an arm around the chair of her youngest, making conversation with her silent almost-grown-up children.
I was here, at the Rosenthaler Platz, trying to find back the perfect café unsuccessfully but now cafés jump at me. I was watching people in the U-bahn before, but people look at me, now, too. I was crying on the inside but now I cry on the outside when it feels that way. What do you want more, a counselor said, what less, and what do you want the same?
I notice the lady on the escalator, with carefully picked pink bag and fake curls in her hair, feeling pretty. I am seeing elderly ladies in pairs of two or three, finding their way together.
More – European cities. The same – walking. The same – freelancing. Less – doing things because it seems to be accepted. More: funky clothes, feeling pretty. More – travelling-but-not-alone. More – crying; more – shyness; more - sharing. Less – running away.