When you’re alone, the refrigerator can get extremely loud. My boyfriend doesn’t like pumpkin. So, when he was away, I cooked myself a pumpkin soup. Then it was ready, but the fridge was insufferably loud. My neighbor also dislikes pumpkin. He once ate an entire menu of pumpkin in a train station restaurant while on LSD and since then he can’t stand the sight of it. But my neighbor was also away. Hence my interim neighbor was around: Gregorio, another Italian, who was always there when my neighbor wasn’t around. As I knocked on his door, I was almost ashamed to be asking him if he wanted some of my pumpkin soup. But, surprisingly, he was keen. He liked my pumpkin soup! And he liked Greek mythology, just like me.
I spoke to him about Homer, whose ‘Illiad’ I had buried that summer under Apollo’s Temple close to Troy, which Gregorio thought was a shame. But we totally agreed on Sappho, that reading her we felt that she could be our neighbor too. How nice it would be to have Sappho as our neighbor! Sappho’s writing is the best testament to what I’ve always thought; that is, that time doesn’t exist at all. It must be true because her writing is timeless. It’s all heady and soothing at the same time. How can she do it? How can she get the dramatic weight along with the hopeless lightness of our being into one line about buttercups? In this tête-à-tête with Aphrodite – who, incidentally, could also be our neighbor in this case – how does she pre-empt Goethe’s will to linger and Bataille’s erotic death? How can she do this when she just has the same words at her disposal that we all do, condensed into poetry and potentiated, as Novalis would put it. Sorry Homer, you might be quite clever, but sadly you just pale in comparison with this woman. I gave you your book back, because I thought you should give it a re-think. And that the rest of you dicks should also think over where you’re actually gunning for what. For your attempts of a presentation of the world, instigated with the free swing of your balls, we don’t need rape or deprivation of women. It is and was always rather counterproductive. And that you let the truly marvellous and wondrous wither in incessant metaphors… Thanks Sappho, now I remember why I started writing. Because I saw the prospect of you before knowing you. Where reading gets me dizzy and I’m helpless because I’m let adrift, and then I realize that in falling I am flying.
The next morning, I woke up and it was Sunday and the sun was shining and I decided to go to the Baltic Sea. The refrigerator was humming when I came into the kitchen, but I didn’t mind so much anymore. I had half an hour to get ready and make the next and last possible train for my venture. Out on the street the tram drove off right in front of me, so I got in a taxi to drive to the train. That was pretty absurd, just about as absurd as someone who takes the tram to the gym so they can sit on an exercise bike there. It should be known that I didn’t just drive to the train to go from A to B, but it was actually for the train ride itself. Normally I satisfy this need by riding a couple of rounds on the Ringbahn – one circuit around Berlin takes about an hour. There I can best read and write. I take earplugs with me then, so I don’t have to listen to strangers’ drivel. Though my trip on this Sunday also had another, additional reason to it: I wanted to see the sea. That’s why It was so important for me to catch exactly this train and not any other.
When I arrived at the main station I still had six minutes. I was thirsty, but the kiosk didn’t take cards so I got on the train parched. The train drove on, away from the familiar Berlin rail network and into Brandenburg’s November. Solemn. The sun was shining on the yellow-brown landscape and through the window onto me. It was midday. The day was no longer particularly young but it would still go on for a while. I had my sunglasses on and earplugs in. In this state things come to me filtered, but in their purest being. It was very solemn. I began writing. Then I had a nap.
When I woke up, everything was different. A group of young teens were bawling in my ears, my mouth in the meantime was bone-dry and all of a sudden, I was starving hungry. Besides that, the sun wasn’t shining anymore. I didn’t know what was worse, and I felt like Eichendorff’s Good-for-Nothing, whose mood on his travels in Italy is completely dependent on the weather – where the interior and exterior happenings become at once the same. All that changed a second time, when I saw how the landscape had changed. Everything got milder and I remembered why I wanted to do this trip. For the release that comes with being in surroundings that aren’t familiar.
Meanwhile I was certainly getting dizzy from hunger and thirst and I didn’t know exactly where I was supposed to get off the train. Seemingly the train was travelling eastwards, parallel to the Baltic Coast, and I didn’t know how close I actually was to the sea. And that was fairly crucial, since I didn’t want to lose any time on my way from the train to the beach, because I’d only have around two hours in total, until the last train to Berlin would leave. I couldn’t really use my phone, as it was almost dead and I still needed it to be able to show my E-ticket on the return journey. But on a map in the train I eventually learned that the tracks got closest to the sea at the last stop before the Polish border. So it was. Ahlbeck. Here I got out.
I was totally exhausted and disorientated without Google Maps and hungry struggled my way as though in a trance through a typical German village centre, withdrew money from a foreign cash machine with never-ending surcharges and eventually staggered onto the promenade. There it was. The sea. Incomprehensible magnitude. My heart swelled. And softened. Down on the beach, a kiosk. I bought myself some water and a bread roll with pickled herring and left my phone with the shopkeeper to charge. Then I went ahead, right up to the surf, where I slumped down and finally indulged in my fish roll.
Then I got up and walked on to Poland.