We’re having an argument.
Passing blame and getting pissed at each other.
We’ve just missed a bus.
The girlfriend has wanted to travel for some time.
Amsterdam is where some classmates have been visiting.
Our Berlin student visas give us access to the Schengen area, and so non-EU citizens (or people who usually wouldn’t have visa-free access) have been really cashing in on the opportunity.
After some deliberation and back and forths, we agreed on Dresden.
A few minutes after the decision I booked a bus.
I booked a bus that was leaving in a few hours.
I felt it would add to the thrill of the trip.
Having to pack and leave with just a few hours notice.
From her facial expressions, she obviously also thought it was an exciting idea.
It is a number of hours later.
We missed the bus.
As a matter of fact, we didn’t oversleep. The bus was just scheduled to leave at an anomalous hour. Like 3AM or something.
And so we’re having an argument.
This is the sort of argument we’re usually always having.
She wants to do things the usual way. The tested and trusted way. The safe way.
I’m a lot more experimentative. Apparently, even with the seemingly more consequential decisions.
Although these days, I don’t know if I’m experimentative or just irresponsible. I don’t know.
“Experimentative” doesn’t really make sense to her.
I think I’m just irresponsible.
I don’t know.
We keep arguing.
I’m wondering if this wasn’t the same person who was grinning with excitement at the thought of leaving for Dresden at very short notice.
I don’t know.
We keep arguing.
We just got into the bus to Dresden.
We almost missed it.
It was parked in a section of Alexanderplatz that we weren’t expecting.
Some time passes, and we’re out of the city.
We’re headed along the highway, surrounded on both sides by the picturesque rolling grassy fields I’ve come to love about Europe.
I think they’re super interesting.
The girlfriend doesn’t find them amusing. She says they’re the usual thing in Europe.
Southern Nigeria generally has a tropical rainforest climate, and so travelling through the countryside you’re surrounded by dense impermeable forest. Trees and leaves and branches clustered by the roadside like a thick green blanket.
And so here in Europe, being able to see the horizon on both sides of the bus is new to me. Very new. And very interesting.
We’ve just booked a room at a hostel for the night.
We got to Dresden, argued, got food at a Pizza Hut, exchanged laughter and smiles and starry stares and kisses, argued some more, and then got a place to sleep.
At some point while sorting out some arrangements at the hostel reception, I saw a guy bring out a five-hundred euro note from his wallet.
The piece of paper drew my attention like a magnet.
FIVE HUNDRED EUROS.
ONE NOTE. FIVE HUNDRED EUROS.
My head began to spin.
I wonder what he does for a living.
I wonder if he’s a very responsible guy.
He looks normal. Normal clothes, normal hairstyle. Normal guy.
Probably works a job at some very formal company and wears a suit and tie and stuff to work.
Hm, he doesn’t look like he’s experimenting with his life.
Ah, maybe the girlfriend is right. Maybe I’m on the wrong track with my life. Ah. Oh God.
One note. Five hundred euros. Yeh. My God.
I’m on the rooftop of the hostel where we’re lodged.
I needed something to drink, and a flier I saw somewhere said there was a bar or something, on the roof.
The girlfriend is asleep.
I walk around and ask where I can get a bottle of something to drink.
An older German woman gives me directions.
I buy the drink. It’s a bottle of wine I think.
The German woman says she’s heading to the balcony for a smoke. Asks if I’d like to join her for a bit.
I say okay.
We’re on the balcony. Talking.
She’s talking about Christmas markets. Christmas markets in Germany.
She mentions by the way that she likes my hair. Says the hair was why she helped me with directions to get a drink in the first place.
I think Okay.
Someone likes my hair.
I bleached it yellow at a Hair-Dye house party a friend’s sister invited me for in San Francisco.
After a few months of wearing the yellow, I dyed it red.
The girlfriend hates it. The hair. Thinks it’s irresponsible. Thinks I’m trying to get attention. Thinks I’m trying to feel relevant. There’s nothing she has not said. There is no name she has not called me.
We keep talking. Me and the older German woman.
She says she finds Christmas Markets boring. That it’s the same thing every year.
I find that perspective very shocking. It’s my first time in Europe. First time experiencing the Christmas markets. I’m still mesmerised by the entire thing. I walk about marvelling at the spanners and bolts and nuts that have been ingeniously forged out of chocolate. Staring wide-eyed at the different assortments of candy and snacks and all sorts of food on display. Enjoying the view of the picturesque stalls and exciting activity in the markets.
However I can imagine for someone who has experienced decades of Christmas markets, it might not be particularly exciting. Hm.
We talk some more.
At some point she’s done with her cigarette. We smile and say goodnight. She heads inside, back to the bar place. I head downstairs.
It’s morning. We made a list of places to visit.
We’re walking through the Christmas market.
We see these guys from, Ethiopia I think. They’re siblings. Brother and Sister.
It’s a family business.
I buy some spicy curry rice. It’s been a while since I ate rice.
I never thought that was even a valid English statement.
It’s been a while since you ate rice? What do you mean? No rice? Then what have you been eating?
I think rice is the most commonly eaten food in Nigeria. I think. Rice or bread. If bread counts. And so living in Nigeria, the thought of going months- possibly even over a year without eating rice, feels preposterous. Unrealistic. Like it’s not even a possibility.
But here I am.
I’ve been experimenting in Berlin.
I’ve been liking this Tortellini thing. It’s pasta, but with meat wrapped in it somehow. I’ve really been liking it. The Gnocchi thing is also alright.
The girlfriend says I don’t eat enough meat. Says guys need to eat a lot of meat. To be buff. Says I’m thin. Says I was a lot more buff when we started dating. Says I’m bony. Says I’m —
See, let’s not even go there.
I take my time to enjoy the spicy curry Ethiopian rice thing.
We keep walking around.
Girlfriend gets some crepes. It’s like bread and stuff. Flat. Flat disks of like bread and stuff.
We keep walking around.
She introduces me to Gluhwein.
It’s hot wine.
Like, hot wine.
Initially I think it’s strange, but after a few sips I think it’s pretty nice.
We keep sipping on the hot wine.
We’re walking around the city and talking.
At some point we stopped to enter a church.
Neither of us is religious, but the surreal serene environment of the church still had a perceptible influence on our conversation. The stained glass and pictures of Mary and Jesus and Saints. We did some introspection. Talked some about future uncertainties and anxieties.
We’re still walking around the city.
At some point we come across two classmates. A couple. From Nepal and Bulgaria. Also in Dresden on a trip. The Nepalese guy says there’s a museum not far away. Says we can use their tickets. That the people at the entrance don’t even check the tickets to make sure they haven’t already been used.
We collect the tickets.
At some point we head for the museum.
We’re on a bus back to Berlin.
The time in Dresden was pretty cool.
We’re travelling at night this time, so I can’t see the interesting grass outside.
The girlfriend is watching movie on her computer.
It’s in Russian. I’m reading the subtitles.
There’s some guy in an apartment sitting in a chair. I think he’s reading a newspaper. There are I think, three girls jumping about the apartment in excitement, marvelling how big and nicely furnished it is, and giggling about how rich the guy must be.
I think he met the girls in the city and then invited them over to his apartment. They began to bounce about in awe, apparently they had never been in such a luxurious living space.
Something like that. That was what was happening.
At some point the girlfriend prods me and asks if I’m going to be like that guy.
Inviting girls from the city to come marvel and jump about in awe at my luxuriously furnished apartment.
I laugh and say something in response.
Image: Somewhere in Berlin.