Well, all my belongings are in a container now that is on a ship sailing the oceans toward Bremerhaven, Germany. Later it will be trucked to Berlin. Everything I’m taking filled up about 40% of 20-foot container. Eight feet of stuff boxed, wrapped, and piled up. I got my kitchen and bathroom stuff in there, my clothes, books, favorite art, personal and administrative papers, a dining room table in parts, living room furniture, two oriental rugs, and a couple of lamps. The rest of what I had, which people tell me wasn’t much, has been distributed to new homes or left for the new owner of my former apartment.
I guess I start anew. I’m in Berlin now for a short stretch to take care of business, then back to the States for several weeks, then the big move to take up residence. It’s been pleasant and warm in Berlin, the days long as we approach the summer solstice. I’m staying in an airbnb apartment in the Western part of the city. The leafy-green street is lined with mostly older buildings that predate the War. It’s quiet, sedate, with a fair number of late middle-aged and older folks. Very different from the hot pulsing vibe of a lot of other parts of the city where populations of European and other immigrants, as well as the swarms of the worldly young and creative, come to feel like a frontline of the developing future.
I’ve been wandering on foot and riding the Ubahn and generally enjoying the city, wanting to see more deeply but too spaced out from the time zone difference, too tired from the just-completed big push on the Seattle side. I saw a show of tricked-out cars on a closed off couple of blocks of Kurfurstendamm, the grand avenue that is home to the fanciest of retail shops, like 5th Avenue in New York.
Now that’s different, granting access to the car tinkerers at the very heart of upscale retail. At the show, rotating in turn, guys would stand by their creations, and take the mike to proudly describe their resurrected and lavishly loved vehicles. Strollers would crowd around to listen, attentive and admiring, light-hearted. Older American cars were over-represented. I saw one guy describing his low-rider Chevy complete with hydraulics to lower and raise the car as needed and to hop it when so inspired. I grew up in a Mexican-American neighborhood in San Jose, and my California heart skipped a beat to see reflections of homeboy culture on Kurfurstendamm.