Lvrgrl’s Weblog

Shopping Kills Loneliness
November 3, 2008, 3:05 pm
Filed under: travel | Tags:

As soon as I arrived in Berlin I realized something quickly and acutely; I was alone. Reports containing my normal ramblings and goings on, which typically would entertain friends and family, now had no audience.

After a day or two of wandering the streets practicing both sides of conversational German, I hatched a plan. When I tired of listening to the voice in my head, I’d stop into a shop for a quick chat. Mind you I wouldn’t keep people for long – just one or two questions about an item they had in the window or, how about this one: were they not shocked, as I was, to learn that after leaving my bike outside my apartment for just a few hours, it had been stolen? Wec gegangen! In Berlin! The place where people leave their bikes outside of bars locked to themselves, vulnerable to any old truck that might be driving around.

Berlin’s burgeoning Friedrichshain is covered in classy clothing boutiques, snack shops and pieces of bashed of wine bottles sprinkled all over the streets from last night’s party. Just over Warschauer Brücke, you’ve got Kreutzberg with its fill of falafel, high fashion brunches and second hand stores. Even in the increasingly pricey Prenzlauer Berg, cloth cutters have studios on the street level so you can easily pop in to explore their craft. All over this great city there are hip young thangs eager to waste the day away with you talking about die leben.

And so it was with patience and grace that Sabina listened to my story about the stolen fahrad and understood that I needed a jacke that was for schwischen the seasons that must also be good for traveling. Together we decided that a pair of leather cowboy boots were a great deal, even though they’d have to be filled with extra socks to keep the feet from slipping around inside. Transitional jackets would have to be found elsewhere, though the wool commando capes at the front of the rack would make any onlooker drool with envy.

Around the corner, Teddy suggested the first line of attack when one loses something could be to steal another one of the same. His personal prank is to drape his lock over his bike so it looks secured but is really loose and ready to ride. Amidst laminated plastic beads in the shape of diamonds, cassette tapes and dollar signs, he agreed that that in NY it makes sense to make money in one part of town and spend it in another. I agreed that the change of outfit from hoodie to suit was somewhat of a necessary compromise.

Marco had first rate second hand bikes lined up on the tree studded street outside his shop, and understood my fear that the borrowed and wayward bike might have significant meaning to its owner. Hand on my shoulder, he heard my plight: “Yes, it’s important to talk about it because you just have to get it out.” After purchasing a meager replacement from a guy on a bridge, a flat tire lead me to Dani, who fixed my shit bike (“it drives, right?”) even though he saw I would need a new one later on.

And finally at the Fredrichsein flea market, my girls Katerina und Claire knew that a pair of silver spurs for just one Euro would make my day. A quick stop at the Yack Fou shop revealed graphic teeth printed tees, perfect for my six month old nephew whose pearly whites are just passing through tender gums. These only came in adult sizes in the end, so I changed designs and picked up a three shirts lovingly made at home by the shopkeeper’s talented boyfriend. Upon check out I explained that one was for my brother, one for his lady, and the last was a gift for ein von my freunden. She nodded approvingly.

*edited by Carolyn Murnick


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