December 31, 2009

Berlin 1991 - New Year's Eve

He made the call from the apartment of the unknown man. She said she had only stepped into her apartment for an hour. But to his delight he managed to reach her. Memories of her play, the green mask, the play acting filled his heart. He often would dream of her - oh precious Nathalie. He fantasized of her face.

The unknown man’s apartment was sparse filled with only a TV, a bed, a closet, a guitar and a playboy magazine. He paid him for the call. Driving up to the unknown man’s apartment he remained quiet having just parted with Terra on a sour note. It was just like the woman in the opera who came up to John and asked why he was so sad. John did not know haw to respond but said "Yes I am sad."

"Are you missing something or someone?" she asked

John didn't say "I'm always this way.” It reminded John of the game with Chris in Delaware, when they’d say over and over "It all goes back to childhood," he remembered with a smile. Why was the woman so concerned? She seemed to be genuine. John couldn't remember how she left or what she told John. Perhaps she offered a friendly smile or maybe she told him not to worry for it will all turn out OK. He didn't know.

After the call John slept contentedly - anticipating his time with the wondrous Nathalie. The next day John rode the train up to Berlin where he happened on the pour soul of a man who he remembered had no place to stay that Christmas. After the Christmas meal the pour soul boarded a train to a city the other traveler had suggested only to have all his belongings stolen as he slept on the train after confessing his sorrows to a thief. John had no intention of hanging out with the pour soul and quickly exited.

Sometimes it was protocol to hook up with a fellow traveler upon a chance meeting. On the train ride to Berlin John met two Swedish women who seemed very friendly. They spoke to John with perfect English. One had a cold but opened up her bag and sprayed perfume on. Was this a signal John thought in hindsight? John oblivious took out an Ernest Hemingway novel and read. The two women exited the car and came back with a fellow with long hair and tattoos. Had John missed an opportunity? He did not know.

When John got to Berlin he accidently made his way into East Berlin. Finding a tourist booth they instructed John to take the subway back to West Berlin. By this time it was in the middle of the night. John planned to sleep on the subway only at each stop a loud buzzer sounded. In and out of sleep John opened his eyes and saw a man with a bloody nose and lip - John decided to get off. Upon exiting he was delighted to find a gyro stand. Next order of business was to find a place to sleep. He saw an open door above which was a word John thought was German for "room". As he entered he gladly reached a man only to have him start screaming. John left.

John resigned himself to walking through the night. He came upon a large cement courtyard and much to his luck he saw a woman dragging a suitcase. Yes thought John. The woman was going to some place to sleep so John followed. Sure enough she led him to a hotel. John found a person who spoke English, which he found out, in his travels, was not hard to do and asked the price for a room. The price was more than John thought reasonable so he asked if there were any hostels nearby. The man took him aside and gave him a better deal so John took it. The Hotel was large and John was on the 13th floor giving him a nice view of the fireworks for New Years.

As he always did once he found a place to stay in a new city the next order of business was to figure out a way to get around and find the museums. It always filled John with a great sense of adventure. Soon his thoughts turned to Nathalie "Will I be able to recognize her," he wondered even though he often fantasized of her face, a mysterious face filled with promise and magic. John didn't seem to mind being alone for New Years. From his window on New Years John set his camera for a long exposure so that all the fireworks would manifest as lines of light. John felt alive and vital. Soon he would be near Nathalie.