My underwear is spinning furiously in the washing machine next door. The bedroom walls are shaking. Somewhere close a clock I cannot see is ticking. I’m propped up in my double bed in west Berlin, thinking of LSB.
He’s hundreds of miles away. I imagine him waking up in his hostel in Edinburgh and stepping gingerly by sleeping bodies as he makes his way to the bathroom.
We Skyped last night. He was in the hostel lounge, which was lit up like a disco hall in flashing shades of red and green and purple. The way he was sitting made it look like there were daffodils sprouting out of his shoulders but when he moved I could see they were artificial flowers wedged into a plastic vase.
He’d been looking at flats all day and was fatigued. I’d spent the day copying Arabic phrases into a notebook and trying to commit the 50 states of America to memory.
We were both alone in exciting cities and we were both demoralised.
“This going away thing is not that easy,” said LSB.
“It’s not all glamour, is it Katzi?”
LSB and I are good at being alone. We don’t fall into a restless panic when idle and we don’t rush for company the moment we’re abandoned.
So yes, we have inner resources. But sometimes they too can be tested.
For those that don’t know, I moved back to Berlin to work as a writer and translator for television. The job doesn’t start until October, and it will only be on a freelance basis then. For reasons that could fill a book, I arrived back here early. I moved into my flat two weeks ago, exhausted after an encounter with a Turkish man, who bought me buttermilk and offered me a flat.
At first I busied myself with practical things. I registered with the police, opened a bank account and got a tax number. Not thrilling achievements, but ones you can tick off a list.
I’ve been in work a bit for training but apart from that my days have been long voids punctuated by little plans, like going to Penneys or doing grocery shopping. I’m trying to better myself by learning things but I’m distracted by financial worries and as always, about what I’m doing with my life.
LSB, happily or unhappily, is in the same boat. Saturday stretches ahead of us. These cities are full of possibilities. We need only step outside or on a train, but something inside of us, human and inert, guides us to inaction.
Some time ago the washing machine let out a shrill cry. My underwear is clean. A small conquest.