First and foremost, good god is it good to be back here in Schwaebs. Maybe it was the 9 hour train ride from Hannover, maybe it was 10 solid days of traveling, but I've never been so glad to be back in small-town po-dunk Germany since, well, ever. I slept until 2:45 this afternoon, half from train-lag, half from a mere unwillingness to get out of bed, half because of the dreams I was having were too intriguing to leave (Miss Hornet talking with the Media Board Chair while a random African I met here was selling drugs in the living room and I was scrambling to the playground outside). That's three halves, I know. WHATEVS.
SO BERLIN. I love Berlin. I always have. There's the name, most of all, which is just so completely badass - when I went in summer 05 with Matthew, I remember just chanting the name in my head. There's the Brandenburg Tor within sight of the Olive On A Stick TV Tower, which is also completely badass. There's the incredible fact that the biggest wars of the 20th century went down in Berlin - WWI, WW2, and the Cold War - and that the place is continually picking itself up and moving on - you can't contend with the truth of Hitler, of him hiding in his bunker underground, eating chocolate cake and hopped up on speed, poisoning his dog before ramming a gun into his mouth while the Soviets banged down his door. That's not supposed to sound heroic, if it does. It's just incredible to stand on the very spot where it all occurred, just a patch of ground. The whole attitude of Berlin is so incredibly complex and intense - and the nightlife is jumping, as I found out the hard way on my 21st birthday.
I am not cool. Let's just get that out there. I am awkward and uncomfortable in most party situations, and my 21st was no exception. Fortunately, Johanna and Jamie were there with 2 other Prague girls to shove drinks in my face and tell me to start having fun as it was my birthday. Which I did - we were on a pub crawl, dragged from what was supposed to be 4 bars and a nightclub, but I only made it to Bar #3 before collapsing in a bathroom until some Angel of Light rescued me and put me in a cab. But before that fantastic catastrophe, we made friends with Spaniards who couldn't speak a word of English but kissed us all when we left, I put in a request for 'Someone Great' and danced by my lonesome, an Australian bought me a Jagerbomb, had Jager poured down our throats under a train bridge, and did I mention Johanna and Jamie were there? When I erupted back into the hostel room, miraculously alive and semi-coherent, our sober compadre Tommy took notes on our drunken shenanigans, and the best and truest quote of the night was this: "It was great. I do not remember 75% of it."
So happy birthday to me. I thought Turning 20 In A Toga could never be topped (that also ended with a very public pass-out), but hey, 22 will have a lot to live up to.
My birthday was typical of our misadventures last week. The Baltic Sea is not so exciting in the dark, as we found out after trekking up to a lighthouse (appropriately with a pale green light beckoning us onwards) and screaming at the wind. Potsdam is probably gorgeous in the summertime, but, on the Tuesday we went, it was bleak and deserted and closed. We did waltz through Charlottenburg, a castle in the city limits of Berlin, and of course the Berlin Zoo is always a good time, regardless of the weather (plus Knut the polar bear is a complete photo whore). The Pergamon still has lots of giant stuff in it, and Unter Den Linden is still a little too long of a walk. And the Brandenburg Tor - still the greatest monument on earth. And misadventures are still adventures, or at least that's the attitude I'm straining to maintain - straining because I still read the WHCL emails, still obsess about what's happening at Hamilton and think irrationally and erratically, still feel split between three hills - the one leading from my dorm in Germany, the one where my house is in Tulsa, and, of course, Hamilton.
I DID, HOWEVER, SEE IRON & WINE IN A CHURCH WHILE HAVING MANY BEERS. That's just a fact!