From Monday to Thursday, I leave our flat between 10:10 and 10:15 in the morning to walk, a 12ish minute walk, for my 10:30am language school class. I bought a bike about a month ago from a college student leaving Berlin so I have that option as well. At first I thought I would ride my bike each morning there and home each afternoon when finished but I started to walk one day and then another and I notice some things about walking to school each morning.
I leave our flat with all of my things and head out. I make one right turn a block away. Each morning I wave to our downstairs neighbors who sit in their balcony. They are an older German couple and we wave and wave. I see who is at work at the corner store as they open and start their day. Each day I then take note of this building. The pink with the flowers catches my eye. Yesterday morning the rain had just let up and everything look a little more fresh. Across this street where I am walking, there is another corner store and every morning at the time I walk by there is a couple that stop there for coffee and a cigarette. We have gotten to start nodding at one another. There is usually a dog or two out walking with their owners as well. I take note of what the bar across from that corner is advertising today.
Another block down is this café….
This is the Mona Lisa and at least once a week…ok, more like twice during my four days, I stop in here to get the pastry that I have to confess I am now addicted to. Mona Lisa has the best…the BEST…Apfel Tasche. These are the most buttery pastry around a little pocket of apple goodness. This is just standard for every bakery to have. In fact, I don’t think many people even blink an eye over these tasty apple yummy pockets and I love them. Once a week, if I am lucky, I get one that is still warm….the best thing for walking to school with. I have started to get to know the couple who work there and I try out how to order in German. I think it’s getting better.
I continue on, noting the coffee shop across the street and peer into windows as shops are opening. There are a few galleries that I like to peer into as I pass with my pastry in hand.
A few blocks down, I come to a cobblestoned corner and I also pause for a moment to see this….
Almost each morning I think about who painted this street art. Berlin is so full of graffiti and street art and this one is so cute and simplistic. Who needed to paint some one with a kite? Its just there, sweet and unassuming. And each morning I think about the person who might have added art to this corner in this way.
I keep on and I am usually just about done with my pastry in the next block. I have started to nod and smile to the woman who runs the Turkish bakery shop a block down. I like to see what is happening at the coffee shop just two blocks down…always some sort of gathering and the playground is usually filling with kiddos
Just across the street from the playground is this doorway and when I see it I smile. Graffiti adds to it almost everyday. Every day when I see this building with this doorway I think, “What a showcase of this neighborhood in Berlin.” This image will always be in my mind as an example of living in Berlin. There is color and street art and just graffiti and people coming and going, etc.
Another block and we are here….
Now this area is a good sign because it means that I am just about a block and a half away from school. Pretty soon I will come up to the construction happening with workers on scaffolding blasting Arabic music from different levels. There will be the school that has huge painted frogs out front. There will be the café just before I turn that is always busy out front and always an interesting place to people watch. There will be the really nice shop on the corner with an impressive wine wall and a shelf full of chips that remind me of Oregon because there is a branch of that chip in Oregon. But I am almost there at this point and its a signal to me.
Pretty soon I arrive at school and put my stuff down. Go to get my cup of coffee and set up my spot. I am now ready. I have had 12ish minutes to prepare myself to come into school and learn more German.
Here is what I have realized over the past two weeks. 1. The space is necessary. I will leave school and usually return the same way unless I want to go elsewhere and the time it takes to get home is amazing debrief time in my mind just like the time to get there is a good time to prep to arrive. The space is good for me and the timing is perfect.
2. There are little things in the neighborhood that I would not have noticed otherwise and I enjoy thinking I am a part of what is and what will be in the hood.
3. The walking is a process. While I walk, I think and pray and meditate. I think about my people and spend time in my own self while I am embodied in my walking as well.
4. There are moments when I think about the process of arriving to a place and walking is part of being intentional in the world. In new places, the walking is part of the art of being someplace and paying attention to what is around us. It allows me to show up in different ways.
The walk to school is part of being in the in between. It is structure and it is process. It has become one of my favorite parts of the day.