I have always worked better in the morning, at the time dawn light is already visible, but not bright enough to let the night be forgotten. Then, the mind still remembers the nocturne walks and drifts, the bodies and faces met, perhaps touched, in those misty dreams. Early, inspiration proceeds from still live memories, and those clearer sparks born from the shock of the day.
Here, in Kreuzberg, the rising noises of city life, never as aggressive as in London or Paris, accompany the first writing shift of the day, part of that concert of senses, of which the aroma of brewing coffee is a central piece. There is you, emerging a little behind me, your soft steps a mere fluster in the peaceful atmosphere of our home.
When it is a little warmer the balcony door is open, letting the city visit our world, but this street is so quiet that only village-like sounds reach us. Sun light plays little tiling games on our walls, on the prints that adorn them, on the glass tumblers on the table. We drink coffee, in a silence hardly interrupted by the sound of a distant radio.
We talk about the book, the characters, the plot that appears so anchored in the city that it resembles a diary. Your smile encourages me to continue, rather than be tempted to lead you back to our room, as my main character would do, if he were me. Of course you know that this is for me therapy, as much as a way to finance the small luxuries that add flavour to our life here: a pair of new bicycles, new lenses, some rare vinyl records found in a marvellous and hidden shop in Friedrichshain…
We talk about going back to Sans-Souci, of Friedrich and Voltaire, of Clausewitz and Charnhorst. Prussia, we call her Brandenburg, is all around us. Constantly we look back at history, what would have happened if, if Bismarck had lived longer, if Germany had remained united, neutral, the opposite of the nexus of the Cold War. History feeds our love of the city, and my work.
We decide to take a walk, there will be time for me to go back to this chapter later, as I know that you will be out this afternoon. Hand in hand, we cross Viktoria Park, and aim for Lindenstraße and the Museum. The Museum is our meditation place, our souls’ meeting place with the city, the grey corridors and corners a replica of our minds. You said that all our secrets and hopes are there, more so than between the monoliths of the open space near the Tiergarten.
We belong here, like the others, the dead and the living, to the city of Faust.
Photography: Yva (Else Ernestine Neuländer): Amor Skin, Berlin, ca. 1925-1930, Fotografie auf Silbergelatinepapier
© Jüdisches Museum Berlin