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Stepping into my new life...

... feels disconcertingly easy

After shlepping my suitcase, large backpack and day pack on a bus from Tegel Airport to Alexanderplatz followed a brief stint on the U-Bahn, I arrive about the apartment about ten in the morning. Wilma answers the door a bit frazzled; she is in the process of moving out and thought I was one of her friends arriving to help. She has used my future room as a staging area and apologizes profusely for its state, promising it will be empty in an hour. Meanwhile I am offered to sit at the kitchen table with her friends and have some breakfast. It is my first re-encounter with the omnipresent and delicious German Brötchen, and it is a happy one. As I nibble on bread and half-listen to the German patter, I take in my new kitchen. It has a black and white checkered floor, an antique-looking wooden credenza that holds our glasses and dishes, a long butcher-block cooking surface with an open shelf below to store pots and pans, a miniature range which somehow comprises four burners, a mini-fridge that apparently serves four people, a hanging wire basket with fruit, jars of hand-labeled dried herbs, a spidery plant by the window. The plant leaves drape around a radio that looks to be from the 70s, complete with cassette player, incredibly still functioning and now playing music and news.

People get up to complete the move-out. We are on the second floor, so the lighter bags of linen and clothing are simply tossed out the window to a receiver below. I then spend half an hour helping to carry down the rest, chatting (mostly in German) with these people I just met; it feels only natural, and what else would I do right now?

When Wilma has left I begin to unpack. The whole apartment has a spacious feel thanks to trademark high ceilings typical of German Altbau. My room has a bed low to the ground (just the way I like) it, a simple desk with rolling chair, a huge wardrobe which more than holds all the clothing I brought, and bookshelves with Uli's books (lots of Marx and Engels). Best of all, it is big and bright with two large street-facing windows, a golden-blonde wood floor, and plenty of space to do yoga, handstands and pirouettes. When I cannot find hangers to hold my skirts, I drape them over a red upholstered chair in the corner. When I cannot get the dial to move the hands on my cheap alarm clock, I simply take out the battery and reinstate it when the stopped clock has the right time. I empty my suitcase and backpack and stick them in some storage space down the hall near the bathroom. I find linens on the top shelf of the massive wardrobe and make the bed in a somewhat marine motif, with a blue-and-white striped duvet and a red pillow. And just like that, I am done.

Taking stock: There a fully-equipped kitchen, a washing machine and drying racks. I have furniture and linens, and there are clean towels in the bathroom that we can all share. There is a system for sharing food and cleaning duties... There is, I realize, oddly little I have to do; it feels like walking into a ready-made life. In a foreign country, carried out in a different language. Granted, starting tomorrow I will likely face a labyrinth of frustrating administrative tasks. But for now, it is downright disconcerting how easy this all feels.

Posted by sbw2109 15:33 Archived in Germany

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Comments

Sounds like you're as adaptable as ever in new situations. I just hope that you didn't get the idea to try jumping out of the window to a receiver below. Keep posting.

by askaufman

Shatz, you make it all sound so easy. Can't wait to read more...

by tomiko13

Thanks for reading and commenting, you guys! Not planning to jump out any windows - unless the bureaucracy drives me to extreme measures (see latest entry)...

by sbw2109

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