On Wednesday, I am going to fly on a plane and land in Berlin! Just over a month ago, I got a cheap, cheap ticket for a quick, quick trip and now the journey is almost upon us.* It’s been over five years since I left the country so as you can imagine, I am very excited to go.
But if I was just going to Berlin for the heck of it, just to see Berlin or take a trip to a foreign land because the price was right, I’d be excited with the kind of excitement you get when you get a cupcake at a cupcake shop (yes, there are shops that only sell cupcakes and this is why I live in a big city.) You take the cupcake out of the box and peel back the paper and open your mouth to take the first bite and to be sure, this is a great level of excitement. But it’s not as good as it gets.
Because I know this wonderful person in Berlin. And I get to see him after saying goodbye to him seven months ago. So the kind of excitement I feel about going to Berlin is like getting a homemade cupcake from someone who made your favorite kind — yellow cake, vanilla fudge frosting with sprinkles — and not because you asked but because they love you. They love to see you smile. My friend Sophie made me a Funfetti birthday cake this summer, so I know these things do actually happen, these people do exist.
Tonight, I was fortunate to share a glass of wine and some french fries with two of my favorite people: the birthday cake-maker, Sophie, and Brian, a hot chocolate fan. Six months ago, I didn’t know either of them; we connected because of grad school at SAIC. If I get nothing but these friendships out of the experience, grad school will have been worth it. Seriously; come have wine and french fries with us and you’ll see what I mean.
We talked about our respective love lives. I asked Sophie about a possible engagement ring in her future; Brian spoke to the situation he finds himself in lately, introducing his newly-relocated-to-Chicago girlfriend to his friends; I spoke about my ongoing, satisfying dalliance with a certain young man. Of course we talked about my upcoming trip. Suddenly, the conversation went to a very deep place. Discussion of jobs lead to passionate feelings about Big Stuff — life and money, goals and reality, art school, the meaning of happiness, success — and several things were touched off in each of us that, over the course of the conversation, created some tears and frustration. (Full disclosure: I cried a lot.)
People will tell you that folks are most guarded and sensitive when talking about sex, but it’s not true: Jobs and income and money and making a living, owning what you have, wanting what you don’t and even not wanting what you do have — this is far more intimate stuff to talk about. We went there tonight and it wasn’t easy, but it was really important. If you don’t get vulnerable to the point of tears with other people at least sometimes, you forget that you can do that and the world doesn’t disintegrate and they don’t run away. And you don’t run away. And this can be the biggest revelation of all.
The reason I’m telling you about this in the same post about going to Berlin is because it’s all related.
I live by myself. I like living by myself. I like my tea in the morning and a hamper filled with only my underwear. But I am the opposite of alone. The people in my life, they push me to think harder, love better; they correct me, they encourage me. Berlin, Chicago, Australia (hi, Yuri), Iowa, or New York City — in these places, I am never alone. And when I’m in between those places? They’re with me in those places, too.
Ocean, schmocean. You know?
And then there’s you. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you what’s been coming in the mail. File my whole life under “Embarrassment Of Riches.”
*You think I’d go without you??