Daily Archives: March 25, 2007

peace. also, ‘happiness is possible if you have the right pen’

i met the east german military officer that opened the door to the berlin wall the glorious day the wall came down. i shook his hand.

i was walking alone over a bridge and saw people filming an older man pacing pensively around this bridge. i asked the crew what they were doing.

i met the writer of the book about the man that opened the door to the berlin wall the glorious day the wall came down. the writer introduced me, and we took pictures together. i shook the man’s hand, the hands that opened the door to the wall the day the wall fell.

it was like touching an avatar of peace. the greatest arms build-up in history should have leveled this city. instead, a bunch of officers like this man i met, a bunch of people in positions of authority, decided all at once to open the door instead of opening fire.

i turned around, half-expecting someone to be running over the bridge to me – someone i could have shared this amazing moment with. but nobody was there. i walked on to the huge outdoor museum where the portions of the wall complete with graffiti stand alone as a monument to the way the dark time ended.

written on the a picture on the wall, in english:”happiness is possible if you have the right pen”

i must not have the right pen.

i didn’t say good-bye to her in m√ľnich two days ago. i only had said good-night.
the night before i left, she hugged me from the second-step, because that’s what friends do.
i said something stupid, because i was afraid to say “thank you”.
she said “you should work on that”, and disappeared upstairs.
i should.

i snuck out that morning at 6am for the early train to berlin. i didn’t say good-bye because i was afraid i’d say something stupid again.

i’ve been in berlin for two days. i’ve carried this little ghost on my shoulder, like a conscience with a prettier face, whispering in my ear these things i should’ve said.

i wandered this wall, trying to force myself to be happy alone, because i’m usually happier alone.

i don’t think i’m ever going to see her again. i only knew her for a few brief hours, in one city, in one little section of our two separate quests. the most important thing about traveling is meeting new people. these people you meet – some of them – you will never forget.

and, you’ll never see them again.

“happiness is possible if you have the right pen”, and this blog must not be the right pen because i’m not happy.

i reveal other people’s small oddnesses and tiny heartbreaks in this foolish blog. sometimes it’s only fair to reveal my own.

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can’t whitewash the heart, the people will be free

i went to st michael’s church around the corner from my hostel in east berlin.

the building was in a state of organized decay, bits of half-construction everywhere. the stained glass windows had been replaced with blank, clear sheets of glass. the icons of the saints and of christ in statuary are all banged and bumped and dusted with white paint as if a vandal came through in the night and painted them all white and in the morning an altar boy with sandpaper instigated a hasty liberation. all over the walls – the bright white walls – the empty canvas glow memorialiazed all the paintings lost. in one, hidden corner, a single curve of angels remain unsmothered, unforgotten. metal bracings like a splint for a broken leg hold up the decaying walls. they’re ugly, but they keep the walls here.

and all the people were here. the old, the young, the strong, the proud, the dumb. the damaged organ could barely hold a tune. the dusty missals smelled like mold and cheap perfume. the people came to their church, and prayed to god. and no state police crony could whitewash their patient hearts. the church is not the art. the church is not the walls. the church is the congregation. you can’t whitewash their hearts.

east berlin fell fifteen years ago, and west berlin embraced her because they were all one nation, under god – in their hearts.

after mass, i walked around the corner to this webcafe. i know i’m in east berlin because of the poorer buildings. i also know i’m here because of the graffiti. in a communist state, the government takes your self away. and all through the streets, the graffiti culture remains. children in the night spraying their names in gaudy colors. they say “i am alive. i am exhilerated. i am carving my own memorial in this stone and there’s nothing you can do about it!”

i think the ghosts of the lost neo-classical icons exploded in joyful dadaism, pop-art primalism, all over these tired streets.

good morning, berlin.

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