I met this girl.
I met her in the laundry room of one of the Adalbertstrasse buildings.
Or no, I first met her in this walkway. Off Melchiorstrasse. She was crouched over a small storm drain, seeming to peer into it with complete concentration.
I was curious.
What is she peering at so intensely? What is so engrossing in a drain?
I walked over to see what was going on.
She was drawing the outline of the drain- something like that. For an art course. She was an exchange student from the USA, in Berlin for a semester. I thought she was interesting. We exchanged Facebook contacts.
And then I met her again in the laundry room.
We engaged in conversation while she deliberated on what to do with an occupied but idle washing machine. She needed to use it, but it was full of someone else’s (washed) clothes.
What to do?
We kept chatting while she thought about how to navigate the somewhat uneasy situation.
At some point she was (maybe not literally) like ugh fuck it, and she emptied out the machine into a basket. Whoever owned the clothes could come dry them later.
She has a boyfriend. In the USA.
I also have a girlfriend. Here in Berlin.
But I think she’s interesting, and I’d like to have more conversations with her.
I ask if she’ll be fine with lunch or dinner sometime. She goes hmmm. Says she’ll ask the boyfriend.
I’m in my room. She just messaged me. Says the boyfriend hates the idea. She actually had suspicions that he wouldn’t really like it.
I tell her to tell him that I mean no harm. I myself am in a relationship I’m pretty happy with. I just think his girlfriend is interesting and wouldn’t mind a harmless dinner or something.
He says he is going to kill you
Hahahaha. I like him already.
I look him up on Facebook. He served in the Army. Mm, interesting. Interesting guy. I send him a friend request.
She sends me an amused and bewildered message:
Jesus Christ did you really just send him a friend request???!!!
In about four years when I’m writing this story, I’ll look her up on Facebook to see how she’s doing. Their baby will be doing well. Cute baby girl and interesting woman who was peering into a drain in Berlin and handsome army guy who wanted to kill me. Happy family.
We haven’t talked since Berlin. I won’t message. I won’t know if they remember me. They most likely won’t. I imagine people forget even more significant encounters.
People are usually astonished by what I remember. About the details I recall. I think to them, it feels like a lot. They are usually astounded because I know all of these things about them, that they do not remember ever telling me.
To a certain degree it’s interesting- It’s interesting to see people get so excited about something that’s just normal for you. But past a certain point it gets very frustrating. Nobody is thinking about what you are thinking about.
Don’t immediately ask that woman about how her son is doing. The one who broke his leg while playing ice hockey four years ago and made her anxious about whether she was right in letting him play ice hockey in the first place. First find out if she even remembers/recognizes you.
Do not walk into that office and try to pick up the deep-learning conversation you were having last year with that engineer. About language translation transformers and the paper she and her team got into the Indaba conference in Nairobi. And the paper her colleagues in London I think, got into NIPS. She does not remember. She does not even remember ever meeting you before. Everyone in the office will stare at you- you and your misplaced smiles and unfounded excitement, with suspicion. Who is this guy. Who is this stranger.
Okay you can provide some evidence though. Mention that she hates the air conditioner in the office and only tolerates it because her coworkers want it. And that the second they leave the office, she’ll turn off the cooling so the room is warm and weird and stuffy, because that’s how she likes it.
At that point she’ll have to consider the possibility you guys have actually met before. The coworkers’ll be more likely to take you seriously too, because they know she’s like that.
And so sometimes I wonder how much of past interactions/conversations with people, only exist in my head.
Like you mean, nobody else is thinking about this? About this day? They’ve all forgotten? They’ve all moved on?
Moved on. Whatever that means.
Back to the storm drain girl in Berlin:
But really I think going out with girls who are also in a relationship could be a pretty interesting experience. We’re both in relationships we’re happy with, but are interested in interacting with someone of the opposite sex, over innocent meals.
I think it’s cool.
A Brazillian classmate recently told me she’ll like to have lunch. She’s single. I’m not quite sure what to do. I feel like there could be some appeal to constantly letting your partner know that you’re very much in demand, but I don’t know. I’m not that insecure. There’s definitely some insecurity, but it’s nowhere near that point.
She on the other hand, I’m sure will not hesitate to hammer evidence of external interest in my face. She’s constantly pummeling me with all that stuff.
Blah blah blah blah blah, please shutup.
As a matter of fact, in a few weeks she’ll go out on a date with some guy. They’ll go to the Berlin TV tower. I won’t learn about it until after it has happened.
A few weeks after that, I myself will be at the TV Tower. The school will be having some sort of an event. Interviews and stuff. There’ll be cameras and stuff. I and a number of students will be invited.
I’ll be walking around the bar, taking in the very interesting environment, looking at a couple in their like very early forties sitting at the bar and idly scrolling through their phones. Okay maybe just the guy was in his forties. I’ll be looking down at the interesting historical buildings and very well-planned streets and delightful red roofs that gleam with what I understand to be that general European architectural aesthetic. Every once in a while though, I’ll be disturbed by nagging thoughts about how my girlfriend was sauntering daintily around here with some guy.
She’s definitely someone who gets very jolted by external romantic interest. In addition to that though, I feel like she’s beginning to feel like maybe I’m not really what she wants.
She likes all these guys with very predictable life trajectories.
I don’t think I’m like that. Right now it’s not very possible to align my personal orientation with any sort of existing direction that’s consensually associated with some sort of recognized success.
And the unpleasant effects I’m experiencing through the reality-filter of this relationship, is making me beginning to detest people who exemplify that:
Oh hey look at me. I am a Domain Logistics intern at Jack and Robinson Finance Corporation. By next year I should be a fully-fledged Logistics Representative. Four years after that, I’ll become a Sales and Marketing Executive Associate, but of course still specializing in Domain Logistics. Trust me, you want to choose me because I am set on an established career path, and am unambiguously headed towards guaranteed success. I have such a stable futu—
Recently I was at Grunewald, taking in the invigorating nature and skateboarding wherever I could find a strip of hard flooring. I was standing at some sort of an embankment, with my arms folded on the railings. I was thinking about my uncle in Dublin and his life story, and how my life was not going to be anything like his, in spite of initial similarities. While I was doing that, I stared at a pretty large inflatable swan floating idly on the lake, wondering what exactly it was doing there.
At some point I saw some guys descending the slope. Looking very motivated and focused, with very spotless-looking suits. They looked like they were headed for some sort of very important business meeting in a booked meeting space nearby.
Standing there in my hoodie and my blonde-bleached hair, skateboard in hand, I couldn’t but think to myself:
These are the despicable guys who are making life miserable for me right now.
On my way back from Grunewald, I met a guy at the bus stop. He had long hair and glasses. I remarked that he looked like some sort of professor.
We began to talk.
On the bus, we talked about a number of things. Science, technology stuff. At some point he told me about his family. About his wife and two children. He talked about how sometimes his family made him feel restricted, with regard to being able to pursue some scientific and other interests. He said his kids were like tent pegs in each foot- he demonstrated this by driving an imaginary peg through each foot. He said they were all pinning him down and that he could neither go anywhere nor do anything.
I wasn’t quite sure what to say, but we kept talking.
At some point we arrived at his stop and he got off. I realized that at the beginning of our conversation I was energetic and invigorated- fresh from the recharging ambience of Grunewald, while he was more listless. But at the end of the conversation it was the other way round: He got off the bus with a smile on his face, looking considerably excited. But I felt almost completely drained. I didn’t quite understand it.
I had to get off the bus a number of stops early to indulge in some ice cream and some other general very sweet stuff. In a bid to regain some of the charge I began the journey back to Adalbertstrasse with.
Berlin: A Boyfriend Monologue.
Image: Somewhere on the U-Bahn.
I would really appreciate some even more perspective on the pieces I put on here. I am aware people read, and I am aware there are people who find these pieces interesting.
A good number of people who enjoy this blog are people I’m in communication with. In person, online etc. And it is very delightful for me, getting to hear what they think of the pieces. Getting to hear their personal opinions on both the content and the writing is a very very lovely experience- for all of the parties involved I’d like to imagine.
I feel like I’d love to also hear from the more silent and anonymous visitors. Please feel free to drop a comment, or even message me privately and let’s just talk and catch up and have fun- that’s usually very enjoyable.