Sunday, October 19, 2014

An October Sunday's Triumph

Exhausted after two late nights out in a row, I woke up this Sunday at half past noon, and spent the next two hours warming up my mind, joints, and muscles. We haven't been leaving the house much, for many reasons. Agoraphobia, fatigue, nausea, an ill pet, loads of work, and needed relaxation after many vet visits and doctors appointments.

Today there were many things to do at home. Many projects that need to be completed. But as the sun crawled onto the bed and grew only more alluring, Rahsan suggested we go out to the cafe, and I jumped on board. Every little piece of me needed what happened today.

First there was a sort of compromise. We were going to just pop across the street and work on some of our various projects, so we grabbed the laptop and headed out. But first, we decided to take our first trip to the city's glass recycling bins a couple of blocks away. This was one of those small tasks with a much larger significance. See, we moved into this apartment in March. Our building does not have glass recycling. We are able to recycle things like our beer bottles at the grocery store (8 cents a bottle - woohoo!) but wine bottles and most other glass needs to be taken to our neighborhood recycling bins. We've never done this. These bottles have been stacking up inside of our huge blue ikea bag since March, carefully placed so that we use up every square centimeter. It's been one of the thousands of goals that weighs on me. Every day I would look at that bag and think of all of the things I have yet to complete, all of the dreams I have yet to set free to the physical world. Well, today, we recycled our glass.

Today's magical fall afternoon was the perfect setting for this seemingly monumental feat. The sun was out and the temperature was around 21 C (70 F), as if Berlin's summer had come back for one last goodbye. It was so warm that we took off our sweaters after only a block. The streets were golden with a carpet of fallen leaves. The recycling bins are beside a little square with trees, benches, a playground, and one of the city's free outdoor public gyms. We first saw this gym - comprised of stationary recumbent bikes, sit-up benches, and some kind of elliptical-type thing - on one of our walks around the area a few months ago. It was the middle of a weekday back then, and there were a handful of older ladies lazily moving about on their piece of equipment. I giggled and thought, "Who would do this?" while also thinking, "Okay, that's a pretty cool use of public space". Well, today there were no ladies occupying the exercise machines, and Rahsan and I thought that meant we should keep the equipment company. That was a damn good decision. The sun shone on our faces as we laughed and took photos to commemorate our silly half hour. And thirty minutes is really the maximum amount of time needed to play on six pieces of equipment.

Instead of heading to our original destination, the cafe - which was also the way home - Rahsan suggested we walk in the opposite direction. Off we went, exploring the streets, forging a path into the depths of Neukölln, a path that we will surely use in the future. We walked by Ban Ban Kitchen, a Korean street food restaurant that Rahsan had heard of, which wasn't yet open (we returned later and it was delicious). We passed street after street and then agreed to cross over Hermannstrasse and wander the Tempelhof side of our neighborhood. Our tummies began to rumble, which was perfect timing because we were near Zio Felix, which makes the yummiest pizza I've had here in Berlin. There was a small crowd when we arrived; everyone joined in a sort of chorus of relaxed contentment. We sat at the window counter and expressed for the twentieth time that it was such a lovely day.

When we finished our margherita pizza and apfelschorle (sparkling mineral water mixed with apple juice) the place was full. We walked out and looked to the left, toward Tempelhof. The sun was a bindingly bright orange, and it drew us in. We walked like zombies past the various cafes, stopping only for a brief moment to take a picture and to buy a bottle of beer at the Spätkauf (corner store). The air was still warm and we hurried to the park.

Wow. The scene took my breath away. We have yet to visit Tempelhofer Feld for sunset, and it was everything we thought it would be. The huge abandoned airfield, now an undeveloped and fiercely protected sanctuary in the middle of Berlin, was filled with people watching the sun sink toward the horizon. Groups had gathered all along the ridge of the hill, and each minute that passed, everyone seemed to get quieter and quieter. We all stared at the sun as it disappeared, and stayed entranced by the changing colors of the sky.

Immediately upon sitting down, I began to cry a soft cry. Just watery eyes from a sense of great joy and amazement at the moment. Rahsan and I said what we say quite often to each other: "I can't believe we live here". We both felt overpoweringly lucky and affirmed in our great effort to move here. We worked really hard to get to this point, in the last year and in the last few hours.

I'm so glad I got out of bed today.

More photos!

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