Berlin 1

I’m standing at the Eberswalderstrasse U-bahn intersection and looking up at the early evening light gliding over the cornices of buildings and spy two young women on a balcony looking down at us, smoking, laughing and drinking- someone is always drinking something in Berlin, it’s a city for a beverage-lovers – when I begin to think about why I never write about Berlin although I’m usually on the edge of that feeling of almost-writing about it because the city seems to inspire … interiority? solitude? expression? though you eventually find yourself thinking about the conditions for sustaining creative expression rather than just shooting from the hip on a Sunday afternoon and how the myth that has grown around how easy it is to live here equaling the sustainability of expression and its completion is like a small, aggressive tumour in the collective consciousness, and you ask if that means that this city is an inspiring place at all, or just a convenient one, which leads you to realise that every city you’ve lived in is actually only the Gestalt of everything you’ve read, and what your friends say, about it, how people talk about the weather, the food, the political and arts scene, how bad the transport and pollution are, and whether its safe or not and how easy it is to leave it on the weekends or for short breaks, which, as we know, are the things that make a city live-able and so I look up at the girls and wonder if they’re from here – but who is from here anyway – or if they’re part of the revolving door that this city is now: streams of young Americans – political, gap year, searching, IvyLeague; or the Euro-AirBnB set here for the weekend and relieved to be back in Uppsala or Barcelona or Bristol on Monday night with their envy of how impossibly cool Kreuzberg is but ultimately relieved to be back, to be back home.

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