... feels disconcertingly easy
07.10.2013 - 07.10.2013
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.