Day 20 – Time Stand Still

5 Oct

I think this is the first time in my life I don’t worry at all about what time it is. School starts at 13:15 on weekdays – pretty hard to sleep in for this one (no alarm clock – score!). In class I hardly check the time – it finished when it finishes. The few times I’ve had to meet up with people it’s been either right after school (my next thing to do) or it’s been the only thing I’ve had to do during the day. There are no early mornings for me – but I still wake up by about 09:00.

On my way home from school I stop by the grocery store to pick up some breakfast for tomorrow. There are two checkout lines and I chose the wrong one – the customer at the cash is experiencing a problem. The guy in front of me (he is the next customer to be served) and I are doing the same mental math – bail to the other cash and go from being first in line to fourth? I offer to hold his space and let him back in should the problem be resolved quickly. He makes the right choice and turns and smiles when he reaches the front of the other line.

It feels like ten minutes for the customer in front of me to complete her transaction, but to be honest I have no idea how long it is. Back home this would have annoyed the crap out of me but here I just stand there and listen to the customer, the cashier and the supervisor try to sort everything out. More exposure to spoken German is a good thing. Plus during the wait I notice that they have a robot that dispenses the cigarette packs.

So cool.

I think my unawareness of what time it is stems from the fact that here in Berlin there are very few things I *have* to do. When one is home there is a never-ending list of chores to do and people to visit. Work can go into overtime. I usually suffer from some measure of guilt if I ignore any of these things, but on this trip they’ve all been greatly reduced or eliminated. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to go for a beer with my Ottawa crew, but the reality of the situation is that I’m here and they are six timezones away. Plus the items on the Ottawa list are very difficult to prioritize. in Berlin it’s one of seven things: surf, blog, write, study, pub, museum, visit – and the only person I can disappoint is myself.

There’s also the comforts of home that eat up time. I’ve never enjoyed movies and TV shows as much as I do with my new TV I bought last year. Here is Berlin I’m literally sleeping on a futon in the kitchen of a one-bedroom apartment with no TV and a bathroom that seems intent on killing me.

I’m under no illusion that I can stay in Berlin and my life would remain like this. After enough time has passed I would accumulate the things (friends, work, possessions) that define my life at home. And the cycle would start over. But I do have to report that I’m experiencing a minor Fight Club moment – by the end of the first month, I didn’t miss TV. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing – right now it’s just a thing.

I walk over to Hackeshermarkt to catch the tram. I manage to find the starting-station for the M4. Before today I’d been catching it three stops later at Alexanderplatz – it’s usually full and I would have to stand. Not today. I’m one of the first people on and I get a seat near the door. Fifteen minutes later we arrive at Antonplatz and on my way home I pop into my local to finish this post.

To the best of my knowledge the artist playing on the radio is not Canadian.

5 Responses to “Day 20 – Time Stand Still”

  1. Uncle Ross October 5, 2011 at 13:44 #

    “the only person I can disappoint is myself.”

    You are the only person whose opinion really matters on the subject.
    Live your life for you.

  2. Dad October 5, 2011 at 15:01 #

    Wrong Ross.. “No Man is an Island”

  3. Jason Chapman (@jasonAchapman) October 5, 2011 at 15:56 #

    I was always confused by the concurrent truths “No man is an island.” and “We all die alone.”

    Anyway, you’re right. With time you start stacking up friends, chores, responsibilities and aggravations. It would be pretty great to be able to jump ship every few years and start over.

    • Die Hard Three October 5, 2011 at 16:10 #

      More Fight Club maybe?

      Narrator: I don’t know my dad. I mean, I know him, but… he left when I was like six years old. Married this other woman, had some other kids. He like did this every six years, he goes to a new city and starts a new family.

      Tyler: Fucker’s setting up franchises.

  4. Nina October 5, 2011 at 20:00 #

    Not having to do things and to be free of the daily chores is one of the best things of traveling. I had this feeling the whole year i was traveling. And this not missing your tv thing will hold on for a while, i even didn’t have a tv for the first couple of months when i was back in Germany.

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