Missing Berlin during my Covid Double-Exile

Berlin Unicorns

I miss the gypsies feeding their children ice-cream and Coke Cola in the subway. The traditional, pink, flowery scarves covering half their round dark heads, and their dangly golden earrings add color to Berlin’s dreary winters. I could learn a lot from these women. Roma is what they are called now. They don’t give a flying hoot about what anyone outside of their clan thinks. With their 5“ slip-on wedge heels and chartreuse socks, long velvet-red skirts, huge fuzzy white tops with thousands of glittery tassels and rhinestones under contrasting vests.

They say that in Berlin you can wear anything — or nothing. They talk loudly amongst themselves in their language, as if alone in the metro. Willing everyone around them to take a stance. I wish I knew what they were saying. Wish I could be so confident. Germans are not loud. Being loud is reserved for a few things like soccer — Fussball — and the resident drunks who haunt the underground. Otherwise, keep your voices down, nobody wants a scene.

But I am not German. I was conceived in southern Germany, in a small town nestled on the Neckar River. That might contribute to my tendency towards quiet and calm, but there is a fine line between wall-flower pushover and over-the-top obnoxious. Americans are certainly known for being loud. I shrink away when I hear them — from a mile away — touristing in my adoptive city. Maybe I can find that fine line, and walk it in 5" heels.

I am interested in paradoxes, contradictions, people, culture, and being human. I write and translate DE-EN | MFA student Non-Fiction. www.bettinahindes.com

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