Here’s what’s new: ten days ago I left Berlin suddenly, brokenhearted. I feel lost and sad. I don’t know where I want to be. I didn’t want to travel in these circumstances but travelling was the only positive thing I could think to do.
Two days ago I was on a ferry. Two elderly women sat at my table. Are you going on holiday? they asked me. I’m just sort of drifting, I said.
Sometimes it all seems so goddamn huge I feel like I can’t move. For days all I could do was cry. I had all the usual symptoms: I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I’m not the only person this shit ever happened to. It’s kind of boring. Painful and boring.
I’m at a crossroads and I get to go anywhere I want now, I guess, except I didn’t want it this way so it’s hard to get excited about it. But I’m coming round to it.
Last Thursday I visited a writer I hadn’t seen in fourteen years, a respected journalist. I’m taking you for a picnic, she said. I made a unilateral decision that you’re a vegetarian. We sat by a river and talked about travel and writing. She asked me what had happened in Berlin and I tried to explain the end of it and I realised that it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. You don’t need that, do you? she asked. And suddenly I thought that maybe I didn’t.
It didn’t make everything instantly better but something shifted that afternoon. When I woke up the following morning, I didn’t hate everything.
The elderly women on the ferry were sisters and widows. They bickered together. She’s bossy, said the younger one. I am not, said the older one. You’re assertive, I offered. Thank you, she said with a smile.
When they asked where I lived I didn’t know how to answer. But I told them the places I was considering. I sounded free and independent and interesting. If I talk like that often enough, I can believe it myself as well.