Handshake

Thursday 5th January, 22:00, Dresdener Strasse

The U-Bahn reminds me of my Hamburg trip in 2019 and makes me smile. People are still wearing masks here, yet the wind flowing through tastes so good that they’re missing out. It’s warm and European, as if the smell of pretzels and Brötchen baking above ground has gently floated to the trains below, mixing to produce a sweet metal aroma that my freed nose can fully appreciate. 

Walking out into the night is hard at first. Darkness can excite you or inset fear, loneliness and a sort of feeling of depression that only a new day can solve. It’s important that this trip makes me feel positive about the city and my future here, so I become intimidated by the prospect of failure. I need to take the pressure off. I fight it and approach my accommodation. 

The door is already open where Josef stands, wide, red and protruding over black chords. His hair is strong and white and another pair of blue eyes sparkle at me behind thick black rimmed glasses. We laugh our way through the hello. His presence is dominant but shy and extremely gentle. I walk in and he puts out his hand for a handshake. This was incredible. It was so human and so open. I took it and squeezed, enthused and grinning, having only received this once or twice in life. He introduces his wife, a beautiful and also very gentle lady.

To let a stranger into your own home to lie in the spare room next door, share your bathroom and trust you with your keys. He put a sign on his door outside that says ‘Ich erlaube Lachen’. I ask when he wants me to be in the house by at night and he shrugs his shoulders. I wait. He says 3am and quickly laughs shaking his head- ‘If I sleep I sleep, If I don’t, I don’t’.

The moon is almost full and my spirits are high again as I step out into nighttime Berlin for food. 

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