Saturday, January 07, 2006

Ich bin wieder hier

Back in jolly olde England. Berlin was pretty good... well, let’s say, having seen my folks was.
What I feel about Berlin is quite ambivalent. It’s the same way I feel about my memories. I wouldn’t want to forget them, but remembering things is something that makes me feel nauseous, as well. Berlin is a trigger for a lot of memories, places I have been, grown up in, places that trigger these memories. I dunno what to feel about them, it’s a strange mix of nostalgia and terror... nostalgia, because they are part of who I am, things that have made me, but there is terror because the memories are too intense. I have no normal sense of remembering, nothing that gently fades into consciousness and then fades into forgetfulness again. My memories are violent and loud, like a smell that is sweet at first, until it hits your senses full on and you realise what you thought is sweet is sickening face to face. I have no sense of distance, it is all or nothing. Looking at pictures I drew over a decade ago (I just found a bag holding folders with old drawings), seeing the places I have grown up in, brings not just a mental picture back... it turns me back into the person I used to be, and that is the part that scares me. It’s the sick feeling you get when riding a fast elevator, except that this one doesn’t transport you through a building, it drives who you are through time.
I can’t make up my mind how to feel about seeing the places I have grown up in being abandoned and left to decay. It’s symbolic of what I always wanted, leaving things behind... but it’s also symbolic of an irretrievable loss, like I have to decide now whether to keep it or not, otherwise it will be gone forever.

My elementary school has become a drug counselling centre, its oldest and most romantic wing has its windows boarded up, the few that are still open are shattered, and its walls defiled with graffiti. Weeds grow through cracks in the pavement. It looks like an old toothless corpse with its eyes pecked out by ravens. My middle school is a forgotten ruin which looks like it never even deserves the attention to be torn down. My old high school is soon to be abandoned as well. And the apartment building we used to live in has been turned into rotting council flats. The bookshop I used to go to/was taken to ever since my kindergarten days has gone broke, been locked up; and the windows of the empty shop have been whitewashed, empty vessels of their former selves, like discarded snake skins... same goes for the stationery shop, and the drug store, and the photographer, all those familiar places where I felt people knew me since I was little. They are all gone. The cinema I used to go to has been a ruin for over a decade, not decayed beyond recognition yet, just recognisable enough to remind me what once used to be there, and no one has ever attempted to open a new shop or build something else in these places.
It feels like all the places of my childhood are contaminated ground on which nothing can grow anymore. There is a sense of death and abandonment to all of them. It adds to the eerie feeling I have about my memories, the sense I have when I dream of my childhood buddies and the joy to see them, just to realise they are zombies... and then to wake up just to realise that most of them are either dead, or run-down junkies, single mothers just separated from abusive boyfriends, in psychiatric care, street kids or on welfare, all kids whose lives turned out to be almost the opposite of their high hopes and dreams. It feels like, if they have turned out like that, what right do I have to thrive? David is the only one that gives me hope, because he has his life sorted out. Otherwise it feels like everything my life has touched is falling apart.
That is why I don’t want to remember things, if I can disconnect from my past, maybe I can disconnect from this quasi curse. I want to forget the past, but at the same time I feel obsessed with exploring it, like it has a clue hidden somewhere about who I am, the point at which everything has gone wrong which I feel I need to find so I can take the right turn into a different direction. Yet I know it is pointless, and it wouldn’t change a thing; should I really dig all this shit out?
I am glad all these things are gone and it’s probably in my best interest to forget it all and to never come back to and see these tainted places again.

Yet it feels like I can’t live without a past. I miss having a past. Nothing material seems to be there anymore, not the people, not the places, hell, not even my country. I miss the sense of long term nostalgia that is nothing but sweet and gives nothing but hope. Without a past, nothing seems to have substance, but for me, remembering seems not like a dream which enhances the vividness of my presence, but like walking around in a tomb with inhabitants that aren’t quite dead yet.

So I have to take my mind off these things by doing what I have always done. Write stories, in which bad things happen, but within my control, because I am the creator. Write stories in which good things happen, because I, the creator, want them to. Write stories where people have hope, where things turn for the better, because here I have the power to do so. Listen to music, draw, sing, read, of other places, not my own, imagine, imagine, imagine, to make them more real than what is my own.

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