I’ve been building to a climax, right? I’ve been on the road for eleven weeks in nine countries, and I’ve seen countless beautiful women. It came to a head in Berlin, because of everything I’d heard about it being like New York, because of how free and liberal it is, and how there are so many young artists running around looking for life. So during the past week I’ve fallen in love like four or five times, and when Anna-Maria told me she’d get back to me, and when she finally did accept a date on the day I was leaving, to go with me to a gallery with her friend, I had already fallen out of love with her.
As I was getting ready to eat lunch before leaving, I saw that dark attractive girl who had been chatting with that guy who hitchhiked from Denmark. She was standing in front of a chopped onion.
I had bought a four-pack of onions the other day and after using two, the others were gone. The kitchen had a certain socialist harmony, with its shelf of “Leftover Food,” and its overstocked fridge. My bag of groceries I had been storing on the top shelf had literally gone missing for an entire day, which left a really bad taste in my mouth, until it reappeared at 2 in the morning Saturday night with all my food still in it. Except for the pasta sauce, which reappeared the next morning. Needless to say, I was suspicious of this woman.
She was from Spain, and offered me some onion to go with my liverwurst paste and camembert sandwich. I jumped at the chance, feeling somewhat entitled to that delicious smelling carmelizing bulb. I waited for her pasta to finish and then added a spoonful of onion to my liverwurst sandwich. She wanted to share the pasta with me. As she poured it into her bowl, I noticed her arms, far longer than normal, with thin and dainty wrists. Her digits were fine and long, but it was the wrist that got me. She insisted I finish the other half of the pasta. She said, “I’m like your mother telling you to eat.” Anna-Maria drifted farther from my mind as we sat for lunch.
Raquel had cheek-length brown hair and big brown eyes and was from the Madrid. She sighed with all the sadness of East Germany stuck under the Iron Curtain for forty- five years.
“Why did you sigh?”
“Huuuuaaa. You sighed. Why?” I asked.
“Because it’s a bad day.”
“A bad day?! How can it be a bad day? You’re here in Berlin, eating lunch, with me, and you think it’s a bad day? How could it be bad?”
“Because I don’t have a job, or an apartment, or any money.”
Yes. That made it hard to be happy. “Hmm. I understand. But don’t worry. I’m sure you’ll get a job soon and an apartment. I’m sure of it.”
“Really?” she said.
“Yes.” I didn’t want to go to the gallery any more. There was something about Raquel, something between us…”What are you going to do today?”
“I have to go do laundry, to the bank, and the post office,” she said.
“You have a lot of errands.”
“What are errands?”
“Laundry, bank, post office.” She laughed.
“You have beautiful wrists,” I said, starting to breathe heavy.
“Thank you. My friend says a normal arm should be this long, but mine are this long.” It was true, later we measured, and even though she’s an inch or two taller than me — why do I always choose tall women? there must be something genetic about it, some evolutionary drive I have to breed large children– her arm was a good inch longer than mine. And those wrists…
“Daniel.” She said my name with the flat a, the Spanish a, in a way that was warm enough to melt ice.
I decided it was time. “Well I made plans with my friend to go to a museum, but I don’t really want to any more. I’d much rather stay here with you, go upstairs and make out and cuddle.” I had to repeat myself; I had said it too fast. But the second time she tilted her head slightly. It was an idea for her. I let her marinate on it.
“Daniel. Why do you say this?”
“Because you have a strong energy.”
“I think it’s because of the onion. Magic onion,” she said. are onions aphrodisiacs? whatever…
“What do you think? It’s a good idea, no?”
“No!” She reminded me of the girl from Friday, the 19 year old blonde on the stairs who I had begged to kiss.
“It would be an unforgettable experience, and it would make your day much better.” She scowled.
“Why do you like me and not the other girl, your friend at the museum?”
“Because you’re warm and confident and she’s too young.”
“How old is she?”
“You’re 23!” she laughed.
“So are you. She doesn’t have the confidence you have.” She sat thinking.
We stood to clean our plates. She started to wash her dish and I said, “Please, let me.”
Her eyes opened big when she saw I was serious. I took the sponge in the bright kitchen lights and kissed her but she didn’t kiss back. But the spell had been broken. Someone else entered the kitchen to get something from the fridge. “Let’s go outside to smoke,” she said when I’d finished washing the dishes. “That’s the next step.”
We sat in the dark stairwell and I kissed her wrist, then her mouth. We kissed well, with enough lip and aggression and no tongue to keep the tension high. I pulled away when I heard the door open, and sighed deeply. She was warm and making me hot. After the passerby walked between us up the stairs, she asked what my last blog post was about. I paused and looked up, eyes twinkling, unsure what to say. “Women,” I said feeling a little like Bukowski. I let her read it on my computer while I went to the bathroom. When I came back she was smirking. She kept reading. She was seeing if my blogs were good enough for her to make out and cuddle with me. I laughed at this notion, and when she asked why I laughed simply said, “You’re reading my blog, and I’m sitting here watching you.”
After we smoked, she smoked another. Then she said, “Let’s go to my room. To read.”
Her room was empty. She opened the window to smoke. I leaned in against her and kissed her. She pulled away. “I’m not going to fuck you.” (Code for I’m going to fuck you).
“Everything’s fine with you.”
And I kissed her neck and she kissed me hard and I felt her breasts and she said, “No!” again and I knew now when to stop and when to go, thinking of how someone told me about a mack in Italy who picked up a young girl in his Ferrari because she needed a ride home but when she saw him going the wrong way, into the hills, she said, where are you going? He said to my house. She said, “No!” So he stopped the car, pulled a youie, and started driving in the other direction. The woman was impressed. So she said, we can go back to your house, but I’m not going to have sex with you. So he said, that’s okay, I was going to make us dinner and open an 04 Cab Sauv from my cellar. He turned back around, made her dinner, opened the wine, and within twenty minutes after they’d eaten, all you heard was the sound of clothing falling to the floor. Now they have three kids together.
We lay in bed in the curtained hazy afternoon light with DJ Crush playing quietly on her laptop. “It is a good story, yes?” she asked, touching my nose, rubbing my beard, kissing my neck, all so warm and nice. “Are you going to write about it?”
“I don’t know. My grandma will read it.” She laughed. She said, “You should, it’s a good story.” Then she stood to smoke. The gray afternoon light shone weakly into the old room with its white-painted steel beds and saggy mattresses. She said, “I think after fucking with you my head is clear.”
I didn’t want to tell her that fucking with you means making fun of, so I caressed her back and said, las endorphinas. We lay down again then a guy came in. I didn’t turn around and breathed steadily to keep things calm. Bathroom she said, and I said yes and the person who was lying in the opposite bed was Robert, a dude I’d been talking to all morning. There was no one in the bathroom and she ordered me quitalo, and we were almost in tandem but I held it back and she did too and she said te odio over and over again. We went back into her room, tired after knowing each other for four hours and she saw that it was five and said with censure, “Your bus!” as if I didn’t know exactly how much time I had. She said I could go if I needed to so I did. I went downstairs to write and eat dinner. When she didn’t come down I assumed I wouldn’t see her again, ever, that we had done for each other what we needed, and it might be sad, but as she said when we were lying together, “Sex is life.”
But when I had eaten dinner, brushed my teeth, washed my face and strapped my backpack on, ready to leave, I did a double take when I saw her on the couch. We smiled, patty-caked each other goodbye and had a quick kiss. She said I’ll read your blog, find you on facebook. And I left, excited to leave the country and catch my bus.
I had to write about it. For Raquel to know she’s part of my story. Because in the beginning of Berlin, I was falling in love all over the place. I still am. But at least now I’m not so desperate. And that peaceful afternoon we had together was wholesome in how we needed each other. I needed her physically and she needed me emotionally, and we wound up working vice versa, for her physically and for me emotionally, so that maybe we needed just the opposite of what we thought we needed and yet with each other we were able to give and receive wholly.
I wanted to try because of my memory of London hostel love, unblogged. I wanted that pleasure and intimacy and secrecy and danger all over again, and it was similar in many ways but wasn’t in many others. Because the details are different and the details are always what make it real. They become blurred by memory’s rosy hue because we like to see them as we wanted them to be, and so maybe the things that alarmed me then don’t any more because my memory has displaced them, and made it all as romantic as hearing the cleaners play Bocelli’s “Per Amore” before entering our London room, just after. Like Raquel’s smoky breath. I disregarded it in that moment of passion and desire and need to be touched, and perhaps my memory will jettison it. But there’s always something that makes the experience real and human, and flashes the HD camera on the subject so memory has to work twice as hard to make us forget. So maybe I’ll remember her breath after all.
So why did I write about it? Is there a difference between why I wrote about it and why I did it? After that really long, selfishly subconscious exploration of arrogance and sexual desperation, I needed some kind of resolution, some kind of closure on Berlin and partying and the art scene, that would allow me to move forward and begin preparing for my next adventures. So that next post I’ll be able to live and write Poland.