Wednesday, July 08, 2009
I am in Berlin. I arrived on Tuesday. I am here alone. Traveling alone used to thrill me, and then for many years I could not do it. Yet this time I feel a sense of wonderment at how, thousands of miles from home, I wander strange beautiful streets; I negotiate the subway and find that my German is better and worse than I'd thought. And I live in my own head, for I hardly speak to anyone else. And so now it is almost five a.m. and the strange jet lag makes sleep impossible. I went to Daniel Libeskind's museum, one dedicated to the holocaust, and had a profoundly sad experience, connecting to the story of my mother's family in a powerful way. I cried. And then I plunged myself headlong into memory. I was not focused on old memories of childhood, but those of the closer past, a time when I was almost crazy with confusion and lust and dread and heartbreak.
I feel ill at ease here in a way. It is a beautiful and vibrant city. It is also in Germany, the country that perpetuated a horror that killed most of my mother's family and made my own childhood one suffused with a tragic sadness. My mother told me of her story too early in my own life for me to be able to process it, and so I am convinced my depression or melancholy or whatever I might call it stems from that, in part if not wholely.
But then I found these children playing in the Garden of Exile.