It was a Saturday night and  was wandering around Berlin alone, soaked through in rain.  Canvas shoes were a poor choice.  The wind was inverting umbrellas, in spite of the German engineering that undoubtedly went into them.

So I turned up my music, pulled my scarf over my head and wandered back toward Alexanderplats Station.  Josh Ritter‘s latest album took me out of the cold, and kept me from hearing the solicitors on the street.  “Lantern” led me home and re-lit the streets so faces looked warm, the wind seemed gentle, and every minute in Berlin became precious again.

If there’s a Book of Jubilations we’ll have to write it for ourselves.”

It’s amazing the things that we see when we’re not staring at the ground, muttering angrily as we curl our bodies in against the cold.  I saw 15 year olds having a water fight, even though it was near freezing out.  I passed by the Dunkin Donuts that had given me so much joy earlier.

There are so many things to be happy about on a cold night alone in Berlin.  I was, after all, alone by choice.  That meant I was conquering all the million little fears that come along with traveling fully alone.  I may have picked up and gone to Cairo in a sudden, solitary fashion, but once I got their I was surrounded by love.  I had conquered the German metro, for the most part, even though I don’t speak a lick of German. My accommodations turned out well, even though I totally left that to the last minute.  I was able to catch up on sleep, and there was even good internet!  And every time I logged on, students were emailing or facebooking or chatting and saying they missed me.  Coworkers were leaving me messages, and the thought of returning to Salonica actually felt comforting and like home.  And in a few days, I would be greeted by hugs and the standard, “Hey, where the hell have you been?” from   floor boys I live with and watch over.

And then there’s the part where I was in Germany, a country most of the world, most of my world, will never see.  I got to see everything I wanted, without anyone giving me crap for taking a million pictures or wanting to spend three hours in a museum or not wanting to get hammered and make out with a stranger.  I even had my classes picked for next semester, and would graduate soon.  And at that moment in time, that was still a happy thought.  Which reminded me: I would be home in a week, with my own bed and a shower head that doesn’t require holding.

So I remembered my full meal, and the absurd “American” restaurant I had just left, and the great new tote bag I bought myself, and all the Christmas shopping I had got done, and wandered through yet another Christmas Village.  As “Long Shadows” picked up, I danced my way home, taking in my last moments of Germany with a soundtrack that is oh-so-preferable over whipping wind and stressed out shoppers.

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