I had promised my old best friend from grade 5 who lives outside the Cologne area, a separate 3-day visit before my stay with relatives at Christmas, which will make it a bit more difficult to see her. I left Berlin on Sunday, December 2 and returned on Wednesday, December 5. I had booked my 4-hour ICE Berlin-Cologne return trip when I was still back home in Vancouver. I also reserved my seat for peace of mind.
Train travel in Europe is always romantic to me, possibly because I get to travel that way so infrequently. I am sure the regular commuters look at it from a more practical angle. But even in B.C., I love riding the ferry to Vancouver Island, every time. Aren’t all of us artists hopeless romantics? If we did not believe in the intangible, we would never make art. Or, as I like to say, “Function is overrated.”
So I was thrilled to be on the ICE Berlin-Cologne for four hours, even though I had to get up at 5 a.m. and catch a U-Bahn to the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (main train station) at 6 a.m.
At that early hour on a Sunday morning, I have never seen so many bedraggled, unsteady-on-their-feet 20-year-olds on the subway platforms. I just had to smile when I saw all those kids so worn out from a night of partying in Berlin, swaying slightly to and fro as they tried to hit the right buttons on their smartphones to text woozy post-mortems of the night to their friends.
I questioned myself whether I felt wistful that I am past the age of all-night clubbing, even though it’s something I only rarely did, and would not even be interested in doing now. But I have to admit I would like to feel that I have the option to do it. While I know that I have the energy to party all night, I don’t think my age group would be welcomed enthusiastically. As my cousin told me, a friend of his who tried to go clubbing overheard “Are they coming here to die now?”
I was not in much better shape than those 20-year-olds though, for an entirely different reason; I had been up working again until almost 2 a.m. to tie up some loose ends my clients asked for when they got to work back home in Vancouver, and I had a hard time falling asleep, so I barely racked up two hours of sleep myself. Oh yeah, I also like to say “Sleep is overrated.”
I had a meaningful, but also somewhat sad time with my friends and relatives. There are some age-related issues in the older generation in my family. I had to visit my favourite aunt not at home, but in the hospital. The images I drew and painted of the world I saw from the train, moving by at ever greater speed, took on a new meaning.