003~ "To Berlin" 2008
Updated: Aug 19
Descending over those never-ending green forests, I am amazed by the clenching sensation in my throat. I tried joking about it with Neta, but she nodded in acceptance. Okay, we had made a decision to have a Holocaust-free trip. In fact, that's why we politely declined every recommended tour, monument, exhibition, Holocaust-related plays, initiatives, and basically anything related to the "Shoah Business." We just wanted to explore and experience the normal present, embracing glimpses of an optimistic future. We decided to pass on dwelling in the past, for now. So, it was just a passing silly thought. Chill.
Now, it was time to prepare for touchdown. My brother, Paul, was waiting for us right there as we disembarked from the doors, which was a great relief. Though I had landed in a hundred airports before and always enjoyed taking in the surroundings upon arrival, this time I had a strong feeling of "let's get it over with." We efficiently hopped on and off the amazingly efficient trains, moving from one station to another like bees among flowers. We traveled underground, resembling partisans from some U-Bahn station, until we finally reached my brother's place in the darkness. There was no need to panic, but it would be really nice if he had already found those keys and let us in through the thick door. Then, of course, there were those World War II wooden stairs that creaked for the full three flights, reminding me of the past when hiding Jews held their breath, waiting for the stairs to stop creaking. It left me breathless standing in front of the flat's thick wooden door, entering into the pleasantly carpeted and sound-absorbent space. I smiled at Neta, assuring her that nothing Holocaust-related was happening. Just chill. I didn't know if she bought it, but I wasn't going to check.
I felt like a refugee myself, and this haunting phantom feeling started to bring me down. We lay on a mattress on the floor near a large window, struggling to fall asleep. I found amusement in reassuring myself with every occasional siren I heard. Even if the siren were to stop right under our window and soldiers were to jump out of the vehicle and start running up all those stairs, well, good luck with that! I knew we would have enough time to escape.
The next morning, there was no escaping the city sightseeing, and surprisingly, I was looking forward to it, despite not being someone who typically enjoys going out and exploring a new city.
However, things were getting heavier in my head. The weight of it all was growing on me, and I didn't like that state of mind one bit.
But, ironically, it was during my first day in Berlin that the idea for this project suddenly revealed itself to me. In a fraction of a crystal-clear second, as I gazed at the floor near the entrance to the U-Bahn, it struck me.