I’ve been kind of homesick lately.
Usually at about four in the morning while I’m trying to get some sleep. A potent mix of insomnia and anxiety. Fun stuff.
It comes in waves. I’m okay for a couple of weeks, I’m loving the city and all of its newness, but then this storm comes rolling in and I get kind of antsy. And I think “gee, this is a fun vacation but shouldn’t I go home soon?”
It seems to be triggered by activities that ground me to Berlin more strongly, like establishing friendships. I’m really happy about meeting people, about making plans to go somewhere or do something with new friends, but a part of me is not so sure. A part of me doesn’t really believe I deserve to move halfway around the world to a new city, a new job, a new culture, a new language. It’s like “dude, what are you doing? Are you sure this is the right thing to do?” It’s afraid of letting me anchor myself here. To anchor myself here I have to cut some mental tethers with Calgary, and that is hard.
So right now I’m trying to listen to that part of me that is afraid. I’m listening to it from outside it. I’m letting it speak and not judging what it says. Usually when I do that, it runs out of arguments and leaves me in peace for a while.
Yeah, so that’s kind of a downer. But I know a lot of people who moved away this year. If you’re one of them and you feel like this, it’s okay. It’s just a thing.
Or maybe you’re having a fucking great time. Well, that’s cool too.
In other news a turtle
There is a man at Kottbusser Tor U-bahn station who is a turtle. I am certain. I don’t know what kind of drugs he is on but they are powerful. Far too powerful for any man, but maybe alright for him. He stands, barely. Though vertically upright his balance teeters and his legs are bowed. His eyelids droop and he nods-off while standing only to step backwards to avoid falling flat on his back. I think “dude, you should really just sit down.”
Immediately after almost falling he steps forwards closer to his beer which is balanced on a ticket machine. Every third aborted fall he picks it up and take a very… long… sip.
Every six minutes a train arrives and travellers walk around him. He doesn’t react to them. A group of four teenage girls stands a few feet away from him to engage in gossip and he stares at them as if there is something particularly interesting about girls though he can’t quite remember what.
He is one of those guys they put on posters in high schools: “don’t do drugs or you’ll be this guy.” A symbol of urban decay. A hopeless tragedy.
But then he turns his back and I see it: the way his back arches, the way his shoulders droop and his arms almost fall out of their sockets, the way his head, covered by a khaki toque, barely reaches above the top of his remarkably thick tan coat: he is a turtle. The spitting image of a Galapagos tortoise on two legs failing to scale a boulder. I imagine tiny arms flailing and cannot help but laugh.
I mark turtle-man down in my notebook as the strangest man I will see tonight.
Later the spitting image of Fidel Castro walks into our bar, flops onto a couch, and pulls out a four inch knife in order whittle sticks so they have animal heads. I amend my entry on turtle-man and mark him “second weirdest”.