I got off the train at a station I had never been. A residential area a few stops north, beyond the ringbahn. I was nervous but I was not scared. I was excited to see the man I had met just the day before. The man who had rode the train with me to my own home station that same morning, soon after the sun had risen. We had danced all night together and he held me with his blue eyes and sing song way of speaking English, yes like a songbird. He had kissed me, my face held in two extremely soft hands. He asked if he could cook for me that evening, after we had both slept. I accepted his invitation and here I was, waiting for him to meet me at Wollankstrße train station.
The minutes kept passing. I was more nervous than I could ever remember. Ten minutes now. Was this a joke? What was I doing out here, in a new city, at a strange station, waiting for someone I barely knew? I was ready to turn around when I caught a glimpse of his hat in the distance, rushing around a corner. His hat, like a hat Papas used to wear, like a news boy hat, K wore with a very distinctive tilt, slightly lower and angled toward his left ear.
K’s hands were covered in flour and he was speaking at me from a block’s distance away. I could not hear him, but I could see the concern in his body and the honesty in his step. He was panicking that he was late. As he came closer, I listened to the songbird sing to me that he had lost track of time. That he was making me ravioli and that the dough was too sticky, but that the carrots baked with honey had turned out perfectly. I took his hand in mine and he stopped speaking. He smiled.
That night, after a meal which we ate on the cement floor of a balcony in the cool spring air, K led me to a park. I was amazed at how dark the Berlin nights were. The skyline was low and it was easy to find true nature in this city, dense woods filled with dirt you could smell and foxes which darted but which also stopped at times to take a long look at the creature which was peering back.
K brought me to the park which he walked through as a child. When the Wall was still up, before his father had left for work in the west and had never returned. A park which led to his grandmother’s apartment. A park which felt like a fairytale to me, filled with roses and a meandering stream called the Panke. It was imbued with his memories of family and childhood, of happiness when happiness was all there was, and I felt in him a sense of home.