The other night on the bus ride to my cozy little flat for the next three months, two friends were sitting next to each other and didn’t even know it until one reached her stop.
They both laughed awkwardly, a little embarrassed, but happily surprised. Their exchange lasted less than a minute when it could have lasted twenty.
All because they didn’t look up.
My goal for the next three months is to look up. I didn’t do it enough in Los Angeles and the day I did, I realized I wanted to be somewhere else.
Now I am in Berlin, Germany, living with one of my best friends. We have an adorable “one bedroom” (note the quotations) flat in the heart of Kreuzberg, a hip little town on the border of East and West Berlin.
The other night I spoke a mixture of Spanglish and Germanish (German-English. Is there a better word?) with six Venezuelans and Bryn.
Earlier that day I did a meditation and yoga class, both led in German, both involving an accordion, some confusion and a little laughter.
On Monday I took my first German class. (Hallo, Mein Name ist Melissa. Wie heißen Sie?).
Four days ago Bryn and I drove from Heidelberg to Berlin in a little black Skoda we donned “Henry". Ironically we did not get a German-made car (but the good news is that it was automatic).
I can now say I drove in the rain sleet and snow in Germany. Weird!
We arrived at our new home to find no parking, so I put the car hazards on in front of a gate that apparently said “no parking”. Of course, three seconds later a man in a delivery vehicle pulled up to open the gate.
After some maneuvering (of the car and our luggage) we dropped off our bags and then the rental car. Which, on the weekend, you just park anywhere you want on the street near the rental place and put the key in the key drop. They said they'd find the car...I guess they wander around the next day clicking the key until a car lights up?
Fun fact: everything is closed on Sundays here. Only a few mom and pop shops stay open, so if you don't have groceries your options are pretty much bakery food or indian food (though both are good options).
On our drive into the city it looked very intimidating with graffiti everywhere and cars reacting not much differently than those crazy LA drivers. But its actually very safe here. People don’t really give you the time of day on the street.
I made quite a scene last night defiantly trying to open my bottle of Fritz-Kola (basically Coke, but better) on the edge of one of those metal telephone book stands. Not one of the four people on the street near us even glanced over as I banged on the bottle, when the bottle cap soared through the air or as Bryn and I filled the entire block with surprised laughter over the fact that it worked, walking in opposite directions (I was going to German class and didn’t want to run up five flights of stairs to get a bottle opener).
On a side note, I think the body wash I bought is actually some sort of bubble bath or body oil and I can’t read the cooking directions on anything, but overall I’d have to say I’m fairing pretty well.
Also, I’ve discovered Curry Ketchup. That is a product for the US to adopt.
It feels good to look up.