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A tale of intimacy and loss

Tag: Potsdamer Platz

The benevolent wife

Gleis-DreieckSarah is listening to her husband in their studio in Eylauerstraße. Julian is talking of his discoveries, the turkish market on Maybachufer, the secret corners of the park, the Serbian barber, his new gym. It has been two months since Sarah’s last visit: her business has taken her almost everywhere in Europe, except here, in Berlin. Now she’s taking a break.

The morning sun invades their lounge. Soft jazz floats through the cool air: far away street noises can be heard, soft and unobtrusive. Julian’s now talking about his new friend: the ‘golden girl’. He’s unsure about what it means, new fantasy – or something deeper. Melissa has been true to her word: she’s discrete, and has respected his privacy, as far as he can tell. Once a week they go running, or for a swim in the nearby pool.

Sarah’s unworried, and rather pleased her husband has found a new friend. What she’s not telling Julian is that she knows all about the ‘new’ Melissa. On a previous visit she surprised the girl taking pictures of their balcony, and she challenged her. They too talked, and got friendly, and have since communicated, all the time Julian and Melissa have been seeing each other. Wiser and more experienced, Sarah understood the young woman’s crush on her husband. She advised her caution, and explained what to do, or not. Melissa quickly proved herself a listening and obedient pupil.

Sarah and Julian decide to go for a walk, and they cross the park toward the Yorckstraße. When they reach the Ostpark playground they stop at the little café. “Are you interested in her?” asks Sarah, as she and Julian watch the young children playing in the nearby field.

“I don’t really know,” replies her husband, “I am not interested in her sexually, however cute she is, but I am probably intrigued, by her own interest, which I cannot explain.” Sarah thinks that such things need no explanation: the girl’s infatuation, if it is what it is, may disappear just as quickly. What she really meant to ask, and decided not to, at least for now, was: “Does she remind you of the other girl?” They smile at the children’s games, look up at the new city landscape being raised from the ruins around them.

“Do you know where she comes from?” she asks Julian after a pause. Julian does not know, but thinks she’s local, though not from the city, probably some small place nearby. Sarah knows: Melissa’s accent is from Köpenick, to the south-east of the city.

They continue their walk, cross Julian’s beloved Landwehr canal, and soon reach the Potsdamer Platz. For a moment they enjoy the crowd of strangers, visitors of many tongues and colours, and the low traffic hum of the city centre. They talk art and the music scene in the city. Julian wants to take Sarah to a small modern art gallery, hidden in a deep bunker, north of the Mitte. Sarah says she will be here for a week, perhaps longer: they have time. Julian smiles, kisses his wife, for long seconds, standing. Now she wants to reassert her ownership, her dominance. They go home, this time taking the U-Bahn. The City soon surrounds them in her calm embrace.

Later Sarah says, during one of those instants of delight when she knows for certain nothing has changed in her husband’s devotion to her: “Why don’t you invite your new friend for drinks, sometime while I am here?”

Kreuzberg

2 On our bikes

 At 6 CET I wake up: the light through the half drawn curtains filters to the two graceful naked bodies, lying across from me on the large bed – our bed. Sarah holds Melissa in her arms, their breathing in perfect unison. I am overwhelmed by their beauty. Without the usual pinch of diffused jealousy I see them as a perfect couple, my wife and my lover…

In the little courtyard outside, birds are still celebrating the morning on the tall lime-tree. I get up careful not to wake them, anxious not to disrupt the wonder of their sleep.

I shower – warm water never feels so cool as in Berlin – and walk to the kitchen to make coffee: here I use the ground coffee Melissa bought thinking of me. Soon the aroma of brewing coffee diffuses through the apartment. I hear the low sound of a radio playing across the street from the balcony. Kreuzberg is so amazingly quiet…

An hour later the three of us are jogging in the direction of Tempelhof. Soon we reach the Airlift memorial and the terminal building, and run to the entrance on the side road. My two companions are fit and easily distance me: I have to keep up! We start on the long tour of the airfield, Sarah and Melissa accelerating to an easy 10k pace, I am already sweating profusely. We pass other runners who look appreciatively at my companions.

The whole tour will take forty minutes at this pace. As we are approaching the long curve, past the civilian crews scanning for ordnance and old WWII weapons, another runner overtakes us, slows down and start running even with the ladies. I hear Melissa greats the stranger – a tall woman in a blue track suit and fashionable sneakers – then the three of them laughing. It dawns on me that the runner is no other than Elga. I am now struggling to keep up with the three ladies who have gradually accelerated their pace. Sarah turns round and smiles, signals to me all is well.

… Back home, and still with Elga in a joyous mood, the ladies decide to have a common shower, and I will wait my turn. The majority decision is to go to the Tiergarten for a picnic. We, the three of us, later have an appointment at seven at the Chancellery…

We take bikes and ride towards the Potsdamer Platz. I am again struggling to keep pace with my three companions who giggle all the way. As we manoeuvre towards the Tiergarten I notice two or three military vehicles moving in the direction of the Bundestag. The ladies chose a spot not far from the Siegesaüle. While I was having my shower they did some shopping. Suddenly I am interested to see if Elga will drink and eat as a human; perhaps I am somewhat puzzled when she does, still laughing wholeheartedly at Sarah’s and Melissa’s jokes. The four of us have a congenial and relaxed time. Elga finally excuses herself, saying that she would see us in the evening at the pre-conference meeting. She rides off in the direction of Unter den Linden. It is only then that I notice her escort: four soldiers on bikes, wearing the uniform of the élite Grenzschütz guard. They are armed, and they are all women. Sarah’s looking at me smiling, as if saying “stop worrying, you are in good hands…”

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