Saturday Morning


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.

“I know!”

“It’s not all glamour, is it Katzi?”

We sighed.

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.

LSB in Sligo

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.

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7 thoughts on “Saturday Morning

  1. Welcome back to Berlin! I love this piece. I am also pretty good at surviving on my own but yes…there are times when those inner resources are tested and a kind of inertia sets in like an overcast day. Well done for creating a great post about it.

    Hope you will feel less demoralised soon!

    • Thanks Clare! It’s good to be back and these “cloudier” moments are part of the experience. “Like an overcast day” really sums it up. I’ve told you about it in an email, but I did get out yesterday. I sat down on a bench in Humboldt university with a book, I walked around Hackescher Hof, talked to an Italian man about his ethical clothing business and about how many onions it takes to “natural” dye a scarf. And I met a professional marathon-runner from Paraguay. It was good to get out. Thanks for the encouragement, it means a lot!

  2. Pingback: Berlin does Karaoke « katekatharina.com

  3. Aw, Kate, I feel for you. Berlin has chewed me up a few times, and for several years my now-husband lived in different parts of the world from one another. But your comment sort of made me laugh, because my one really ‘safe’ place when I am in Berlin is that grassy quad in the main Humboldt campus. No matter how bad things were, I could be ok there. Are you keeping an eye on the Berlin start-up scene for jobs? They are sometimes looking for editors and copywriters if you are needing something else to supplement? It probably isn’t any consolation, but it is easier to survive on less money in Berlin than in Hamburg where it is almost bloody impossible. Chin up! Ears stiff!

    • Hi LH!

      Thanks so much for your comment. I’m sorry I’m only seeing it now. For some reason it landed in my spam filter..?

      It’s encouraging that you and your husband could make it work and I do think that you come out stronger for it.

      It’s really funny that we both take to Humboldt when in distress.There’s nothing like a nice university campus to make you feel part of things! I’m keeping an eye out and have one lady potentially interested in English lessons so hopefully, things are looking up!
      And you’re right, Berlin is quite a nice city to be poor in.

      Whereabouts are you now? Did you land back in Ireland? 🙂

  4. I am glad you enjoyed karaoke in Berlin. Read this in Bath on Sat but did not have a chance to write you an encouraging note. I was strengthened by your inner resources and I know there may be challenging times ahead. It wouldnt be easy definitely but it would be a good learning experience. Have you read my shared blog with my friend when we first arrived in London? byjnc.wordpress.com – shows our discovery of a new city and the cultural differences – some entries are quite funny 😉

    And a recommendation – if you check out Berlin internationals at meetup.com, it would help to meet new people and perhaps enhance your understanding of the culture and people adapting to life in Berlin as well. I go to german meetup group at times to practise my german and it’s nice just to have a lovely chat at times. And if you meet like-minded people, you will get to know new friends – just like my English friend from the Brazilian farewell.

    Will write perhaps a little more about my adventure in Bath – when I get more time this week! And you have been doing well in your time in Berlin, keep the spirits up!

  5. Pingback: Saturday Morning in Bath « Die Reise meines Lebens

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