Berlin in a Blur

The changing leaves seem exceptionally beautiful this Autumn. It’s like I’m in a dripping golden dream, where colors combust around me wherever I go. I could be inside a Baz Luhrmann movie. The other day, I drove through a woods outside of Stuttgart. As I rushed past endless surges of fireballs, I couldn’t draw the line between reality and fantasy anymore.

I live in Berlin, a city whose creative possibilities remind me of the 1930’s Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin romance in Paris. There’s this contagious feeling that anything is possible. At home Johannes and I listen to records by Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and Gérard Souzay. (It took me awhile to learn how to work the turn table, because it doesn’t have an on-switch; it turns on automatically when you move the needle over). The music works it’s magic, whisking me back to a time when we sent letters in the mail to friends and weren’t attached to our cell phones; and didn’t rely on on-switches.

​We have friends over for dinner a lot. Lately we’ve been cooking from a book called Jerusalem. One of our favorite recipes is chickpeas cooked in curry and cumin, mixed with rice, raisins, cilantro, dill, and fried onions. It’s simple food that always surprises you because you can’t believe how perfectly the tastes combine. It’s exactly the kind of “high-quality fuel” that I referred to in my last post, Ballet: on body image and healthy competition. I always look forward to trying recipes from this book, and I’ve never been disappointed.

I write in a notebook as fast as I can for about half an hour almost every day; something my dad showed me how to do. He fills books with words written so densely on top of each other that they form pictures. At first these books made me uneasy because the pictures confronted me with what was probably happening inside his mind all the time. I thought that he was going crazy. But as I began to approach the free-writing myself, I found that it loosened the fetters in my brain, and creative impulse began pouring out. Suddenly I had more ideas, was a more confident person, and even a better dancer – all because of the creative outlet. Plus, I think the result looks pretty good.

I spent a night last weekend with Johannes’ four and seven-year-old nieces. When we woke up in the morning, the youngest told us all about her dreams. She groggily rambled every detail about her elaborate fantasy world, and just couldn’t get it out fast enough. I wonder why we lose that impulse to let it out. Our fantasies are still urgent and exciting, even if we’ve forgotten to look at them that way.

Today the studio for my yoga class fell through. I didn’t want to cancel, because I’m just starting to build a Wednesday-night following. So, we invited everyone to our apartment instead. We’ll cook from Jerusalem, put a record on, and do the class in the living room. If we shove the sofa and table into the bedroom, there’s plenty of space for everyone – that good old Berlin creativity.

I’m not quite sure why I don’t remember the Autumn leaves ever being this beautiful before. Maybe they are like this every year, and I forget about it when the snow comes. Either way, this time I have to convince myself that I’m not in a dream. This is real life, and it’s even more exciting.

(first posted on 11/4/15)

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