Neffe is growing up in Berlin, a magical city where nobody has a proper job and graffiti takes the place of magnolia paint. Visiting from London is a great shift in perspective. Wealth inequality isn't such an awful glaring beast in Berlin, and consequently people seem more relaxed and less preoccupied with money - a nice change.
Ana loves to fly. Nothing could ruin her excitement, even the discovery that her airplane wasn't purple, as requested. Ali took more convincing. But she proved herself to be an excellent judge of character at passport control, where she screamed like a banshee (which is frankly what I always feel like doing).
Wandering around over the weekend, Tanta and I came across a beatboxing/freestyle rap duo at a flea market. The rapper took thematic suggestions from a rather kid-infested crowd, so his ditties wound up being about ice cream and toys in outer space. The little kids danced in circles at his feet and the grown-ups laughed at the word play. It was wonderful to see kids and grown-ups both having fun at the same thing, mingling freely and naturally.
|Faith, trust, pixie dust.|
I had to compare this experience to some of my lonely early motherhood afternoons spent cloistered off from the world at the local bounce and rhyme. Those afternoons were like eternities suspended between lunch and teatime in a roomful of other sleepless mamas, all mumbling in monotone about that most soul-crushing of words - ROUTINE - while taking on an increasingly pithed look with each round of 'Wind the Bobbin Up'.
Perhaps those dark days would have been better spent at a Berlin flea market, mingling freely with all sorts. To this day, I want to scream like an Ali-banshee whenever I hear 'Wind the Bobbin Up'.
Tanta took me to Tempelhof, of Berlin Airlift fame, which ceased to be an airport 2008 and is now a park. But instead of going to the trouble and expense of converting it into an actual park, the local government has simply left it as is and you have to use your imagination. So people have BBQs on the grass in front of the terminal building, and windsurf down the runway with kites and skateboards.
|Ant flies into the great wide open.|
The physical landscape at Tempelhof is unchanged: the buildings, the runway, even a couple of airplanes. The only major new addition is a biergarten - which seems sensible enough - beer is tricky to conjure up in your mind, and crucial to the enjoyment of a sunny afternoon in Germany.
Walking down the runway - a habitat normally reserved for giant winged things - is a strangely intimidating and invigorating experience. I felt like an ant. An ant sadly bereft of wings and lots of other stuff. But an ant who could do just about anything, given a little time just a lucky break or two.