I am starting a new series called memories. I need to write more. These will be part of a bigger story and book one day. Berlin. Beautiful Berlin.
Berlin was not beautiful in the way a pretty girl is pretty, but beautiful like one of those women with perfectly disheveled hair, who made smoking a cigarette look good, who was never on time but you didn’t care. Exciting, colourful, young, exquisite Berlin.
I fell in love with the city visiting my brother. We drank flat whites all day, and Club Mate, the cold tea sold in bottles that kept you wired all day, loved by computer programmers and clubbers alike. In the day we visited hip stores, perfect white walls, perfect German salespeople with no makeup and flawless skin. Effortless cool. Every meal we had was just right. Bountiful lunch salads in open spaces, and the best Asian fusion I’ve ever had prepared in a restaurant under the railway, where you had to knock on a hidden door and give a password to get in.
Berlin excited me. At night we went to little bars and clubs which seemed alive every night of the week. There was an overall “Come as you are” vibe.
When I think of all of my initial visits I think of the sun. Open fields and markets. Full patios.
I returned one very grey winter when I needed Berlin. Actually, I needed my brother.
Alone in our village in the South of France, I was hit with the realization that I had to leave my three month young marriage. I felt like I was falling. Everything I had come to know and understand was gone.
So he flew me to Berlin. It was dark and grey.
I walked alone while he worked in the day, headphones in my ear. It was misty. It was cold. It suited my mood. I struggled to eat and just walked and walked.
We found joy in the Christmas markets. These over the top markets throughout the city were an abundance of colour and cheer. We hung around the drunken Germans singing Christmas songs and drank hot glüwein (mulled wine) and I was reminded of the lighter moments and the love in my life.
The darkness was frightening. And it lasted a long time, through Berlin, back to France and to Toronto. But I kept looking for the light.
Back in our small village in France that winter I took care of a friend's dog and walked in the sunshine as much as I could.
“I will be good again,” I whispered to myself, “I am good.”
My relationship had left me with the overall feeling that I was bad. I kept looking inside knowing I wasn’t but I couldn’t shake it. I thought a lot of my younger self, little Gigi, a blonde 4-year-old girl - shy and adorable - walking the streets of our little French village. That innocence, before life had dragged its nails along my skin, was who I was. I could get back that. I would get back to that.