We met one evening a few weeks ago. Me and Ryan.
I was skateboarding along Berlin’s streets, and getting angry at the cobblestones. I had spent the previous year in San Francisco, and Berlin just felt so annoying because there were cobblestones everywhere.
You can’t skateboard on cobblestones, not really. Not with smaller harder wheels, at least.
I think we met at an intersection of two streets.
I’m not quite sure how we started talking. I probably started the conversation because he reminded me of someone else. Someone I met in San Francisco. With his blondish hair and general vibes.
We began to talk.
He was an artist. Had an art studio here in Berlin. He was also an Art teacher at some tertiary institution.
We talked some more. At some point we exchanged contact details.
It’s a few weeks later.
We’re having dinner.
Well it’s not like a full-blown dinner or anything, we’re just having light stuff to eat and it’s dark outside.
I think this restaurant/bar is interesting. It has these fun multicoloured lights over the doorway. I think they’re cool and kinda trippy.
The guy at the bar is stocky-looking, with a blonde beard.
A group of people walk into the restaurant. They walk by and sit at a table not far off. They work in the Tech team of the university I study at. It looks like they’re having some sort of Tech team dinner.
I worked on somewhat close terms with one of them last summer in San Francisco. Jason. It was really interesting. I learnt a lot. It was fun getting immediate answers to my questions about code deployment frameworks and opensource communities.
I was very shocked to see him effortlessly bypass a security mechanism on the login page of the bank I use in Nigeria. It was also really interesting to hear he studied EECS at MIT. A few years back I spent some time going through some of their Computer Science course material on MIT’s OpenCourseware.
I think his girlfriend was pregnant then. With like the fourth or the fifth kid. In my head I was thinking, Oh wow that’s a lot. He seemed pretty young to me, and so it felt like they were still going with the kids. He had a picture of she and the kids on his desk.
And then he also described her as his girlfriend.
At the time I thought a couple with that number of kids and such an established, well-defined plan for a joint future would unquestionably be married. My accrued ideas at the time of how adults ideally lived their lives, was along the lines of the “Get married and then have kids” formula.
But apparently people attach different levels of significance to words like “girlfriend” and “wife”. And some people’s notion of a “girlfriend” is about equivalent in meaning to some others’ notion of a “wife” – Something like that.
We met again a few weeks ago at a small restaurant along Adalbertstrasse. It was our first time meeting in Berlin since I moved here for the Berlin semester, and he with the tech team deployed to Berlin.
I talked with him about my challenges with the second-year curriculum. I was taking a Social Sciences course, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through with it. Initially I thought it would provide breadth in combination with the Computational Sciences courses I was taking, but at the time I was thinking of switching it for one in the Natural Sciences.
He talked about his experiences with settling in Berlin with the family, given the work move.
Ryan and I are talking.
He’s talking about a space in Berlin he and a friend jointly got. I think it was a living space, or some art space, something. He and his friend both moved to Berlin from the US.
He feels resentful about how things turned out with the space. I think his “friend” moved to Berlin before him, and for such a reason had more relatively-established relationships with people in the city. Somehow he leveraged that to oust Ryan of his part ownership of the space. Something like that.
He feels bitter and hurt about it. I try to empathise.
We keep talking.
At some point I ask about clubs in Berlin. Where can I find cool clubs. He says Berghain is a very popular one. Tells me a bit about it. I say Hm, sounds interesting. I take note of it.
We keep talking.
At some point dinner is over, and we’re concluding our conversation.
He seems somewhat surprised by the current direction of things. He says he thought this was a date.
Like, a date.
In my head I’m like Wait Hold up. Hold the fuck up.
Wait, is this guy gay?
Is he gay? Oh man, I had absolutely no idea!
I thought this was just two guys hanging out?!
Wait, I thought I saw a picture of a wife and a kid on his Facebook?
Wait, What the hell is going on?
I say Haha no. The thought that this was some sort of a romantic outing, never even crossed my mind.
I have a girlfriend.
I’m still trying to make sense of all of the homosexual attention I’ve been getting in Berlin- I honestly don’t understand it. Usually there’s a way I make sense of interactions with a biologically male person. This whole sexual thing is adding a dimension to it, which is just very unfamiliar to me.
Especially when it’s like just, everywhere. In Berlin it feels like there’s no specific social context where I should prepare for and expect homosexual inclinations. It’s just everywhere and anywhere.
We finish up dinner.
I like his boots. They’re high-heeled, goth-style boots.
It almost feels like after-the-fact he looks obviously homosexual, but I think that might just be confirmation bias.
We head out of the restaurant. As we walk by the open-air stalls of fruits and vegetables in the farmer’s market at Kottbusser Tor, I mention my struggles with academic coursework. The issues I’m facing with classes, and how I’m beginning to question the fit of the academic programme I’m in.
We walk a bit further until the paths to our apartments diverge.
Image: Somewhere in Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.