An Assault Of The Senses

Berlin is proving to be quite a bit more difficult then I ever imagined. I am not sure why, but I am completely caught off guard. Before I came everyone said it was easy to navigate. I have been to many large cities with out much difficulty but this one seems more trying. I had set up a contact with a man I was to meet and he gave directions to his gallery space that I was quite interested in seeing. But try as I might I was unable to get there. It begins at the airport really. I have great difficulty getting a cab into the city, outside the airport all say no until I find one who is willing. He does not know English so I hand him a slip of paper that has the address for my hotel printed on it. It is quick to get around and I am there with no problems. The Axel Hotel is an extraordinary place in its design and comfort. Everything is black and mirrors with long narrow channels for windows to allow natural light. But the blackness and the mirrors throw off my perception of space and distance and I am lost again in a fun house type of atmosphere, as my mind begins to drift and I am reminded of sex clubs in the cities of my youth. It’s as if danger or attraction lurks behind its mysterious walls. The room is beautiful beyond expression, un-photographable, something only to be experienced in design form and function. There are transparent red walls that create an illusion of a dream. A bed made for a king, soft with the most exquisite linens. The walls complete black tile the fixtures of stark white porcelain of fascinating shape geometry and design. Oddly enough as inviting as it all seems I strangely feel out of place. “Where do I put my suitcase?” I think as my clutter explodes into a meticulous space.

I am a stranger in a strange new land now. I take the directions that my friend has given me and follow which I thought were pretty specific. The subway is couple blocks from the hotel and I get directions at the check in counter of the hotel to push me in the right direction. First I cannot figure out how to get my ticket. The sales windows are closed and do not know the city is divided into zones. Where am I and what do the zones represent? Someone helps me buy a ticket that does not speak English, as a crowd gathers behind me. The first train is wrong and I must get off and backtrack. The next train is correct and I get off and I find the bus exactly per instructions. Now I try to get on the bus, have money in hand and put it out to the driver for help. He does not speak English and I cannot understand what he is asking. I pull out more money, he does not want money, and he wants a pass. I pull out the subway ticket he begins to shout but allows me on the bus with a free ride. The stop is perfect as per instructions. But I cannot find the address. I ask several shop owners, showing them the address and they point me in the general direction. I walk up and down the street, but I cannot locate it or figure out its location. I finally wander into an old brick looking warehouse that has been converted into offices and locate building number 3, try each floor asking for my contact. Nobody knows. I try to call, but my phone is now not working in Germany, every combination I try seems abandoned. I am lost, and I stop and I wait. Perhaps my contact will be on the look out and find me. I wander the area and wait and hour. Lots of people pass, but none of them know my contact. I suddenly feel silly and defeated in my purpose. I began to walk back the path I have traced on the bus. I have blisters on my feet, and they are sore from so much walking since I have been here. I finally find a cab and get back to my hotel safe but discouraged. My contact is waiting on line and I begin to chat. He says we may meet up later, but I am unsure. I go for food, but cannot communicate to order and dinner becomes a disaster. I finally find a bar across the street and go in for a drink. Does anyone speak English? I soon find I am meeting others who do speak English and as night falls outside the open street, I meet a lively band of comrades who are fascinated by American culture, history, and economics. Suddenly how does this feel so easy to be here as I find comfort in our discussions. This seems to be a city of sex, but I have managed to get beyond the nominal chitchat to the heart of my normal self. This is a gay bar where there is constant traffic to a hidden room of dark desires, many years ago it would have been the path of my exploration. My eyes are drawn in its direction, but somehow, those parts of my life seem unimportant? Is it the work I am doing through my imagery that has somehow brought me to this new level. Alex and Kubla are engaging and a level of friendship delves deeper with our selves. There is a new understanding of ourselves seeing through each other’s eyes and culture. This is a level we rarely seem to achieve as gay men in our gay culture. For the most part our culture seems to thrive on the surface only and the transient desire to engage in sex or pick up or be picked up generally plays out. We are a culture so easy to physically need and want each other, to conceal our desperation or loneliness that we for get to communicate or even are willing to expose ourselves other then to the flesh. This area of Berlin is a world filled with a strange mixture of darkness hidden in many doorways, which enter worlds of loss and offer escapism from the soul. It’s part of its mystery. Though I felt an assault of my senses though out the day, tonight I feel a seduction of my mind. We drink until the bar nearly closes and head our separate ways. My room is now inviting as I crawl into bed, feeling completely satisfied.

One thought on “An Assault Of The Senses

  1. Elizabeth Lister

    >Terry, I am following this journey of yours with awe and fascination. To be in a strange city so far from home, trying to find your way around while not speaking the language. You are really amazing. All I can say is, don't be discouraged, keep searching, keep hoping, and don't give up!

    Sending lots of love and virtual hugs from Ottawa 🙂

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