Loose Change


Uncharacteristic affection for the cat

Here in Berlin I sleep in an extremely comfortable double bed in a light, airy room where the sun shines in through linen curtains.

Sometimes the cat wakes me up by jumping in my face or by scratching at the door until I let him in. Other times it’s the alarm on my phone, which goes off at 6.50 am, the exact time it used to ring in Dublin.

I eat breakfast with my flatmate at a little plastic table in the kitchen. I have peach yoghurt with strawberries and he eats a jam or meat salad sandwich. We don’t buy cereal.

He goes to his job in an insurance company and I get the underground to work.

On the way home in the evenings I pick up some scallions or pesto or whatever else I have run out of.

It’s eerie how quickly I have got used to it. To my corner in the office, to the daily news meetings where I pitch story ideas, to the fact that the Brandenburg Gate is around the corner, to calling German museums and asking them about rhinoceros horns.

I talk to my family and LSB almost every day. I tune in to Drivetime on RTE and I click onto the Irish news websites. I’m on Facebook. I know what’s going on in Ireland.

And yet it is as if I have been remade here. As if I have been encased in a little protective shell and rolled across the continent.

I never knew how easy it was to be alone.

And suddenly I’m sitting next to LSB in the train with my placard stuffed back into my bag and I think, How strange.

How strange it all is, the way my life has been transformed and his hasn’t.

“This is a bit surreal,” he says as we change from the train to the underground. “This is all new to me. But for you, it’s.. just commonplace.”

“I know,” I say. “Is it strange for you?”

“A bit,” he says. “I just hope you haven’t forgotten me.”

“Of course not.”

When we arrive in the flat, the boys are still playing poker.

For the next few days, LSB and my flatmate (from now on we shall call him “Klaus”) are much more polite than I know either of them to be. Klaus stops teasing me as he is accustomed to do, and LSB sticks up for him when we have a jocular disagreement.

I sleep terribly the first night of LSB’s visit. Because suddenly a piece of home, and a piece of me is tapping at that little shell. I find myself caught between two places.

But I am so happy to see him.

LSB comes to work with me. At the U Bahn he doesn’t have enough change for his ticket so he puts his Laser card into the machine and asks, “Katzi, what does all this stuff mean? All I want to do is pay for my ticket!”

Tomorrow: LSB’s Chocolate Tour of Berlin

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13 thoughts on “Loose Change

  1. Firstly, I love ‘Katharina’. I don’t know, it really sings to me.

    Next though – what an interesting life you have! It seems wonderful there in Berlin, your cat & flat etc. I can so picture it. I love autobiogs, you know – I love reading other people’s lives, especially as well written as this was. Cheers to you 🙂

    • Hello there! What a lovely comment to get as I drift to sleep. I’ve come to embrace the “Katharina” though it’s a little ridiculous coming after “Kate”.. I just read you latest post and left you a comment. Lovely writing, look forward to returning for more. Night!

    • Thank you so much for your kind comments! I have embraced my strange double name. It is odd, but it is mine. I’m lucky to have landed on my feet here. What the future holds though is anyone’s guess. Lovely of you to stop by and leave a message 🙂

    • It’s all ahead of you! You have so many years of adventures to come. You’re only 17 right? 🙂 Also, I like reading your blog. It’s raw and honest and sensitive and it reminds me of things I used to feel when I was your age. And I’m not that much older now! but in the intervening years my perspective on a lot of things you’re writing about has changed. If I had to say anything to my 17 year old self, it would be “give yourself a break. You’re not at all as full of faults as you think you are! And as you grow up, you will still be exactly who you think you are right now. Just a little wiser.”

      • I plan too! 18 :). Ya the point of the blog is to give me a chance to be honest, somewhere were I’m not judged. That’s why I think a lot of my work is negative, it’s the result of hiding those feelings for years. But I’m coming out of it, slowly but surely. Thank you for the kind words. I love your descriptions and your work is unique, always a pleasure :).

  2. Ever considered wtiting a book Duffy? A writer in Berlin.. living with “Klaus”.. etc.. i can just picture it in my head how it would play out. A movie? Your living one of my dream lives!! 🙂

    • Aw Luce, I would LOVE to write a book! One of my dreams.. *sigh* Hehe, Klaus and the housetcat could have their very own movie. I was in the shower just now and Klaus knocked madly on the door and yelled something I couldn’t make out. I figured he really needed the bathroom or somehting.. So I turned off the water and I still couldn’t hear him because there was shampoo in my ear. “What?” I yelled again. And he said “Good Morning!”

      “That’s it?”

      “Yep.”

      Good Morning, Klaus 🙂

      • Haha that´s hilarious!! “That´s it”? 🙂
        That something so short can sound completely different.. love it!

  3. Pingback: Books in Berlin: Red wine, dim lighting, dignitaries and … katekatharina. « katekatharina.com

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