Last night was surreal. It’s almost as if Berlin was preparing me to say goodbye.
The whole group got dressed up and ate dinner at the TV Tower, which really did remind me of my childhood and the Peachtree Plaza Westin in Atlanta. It rotates as you eat dinner. It was a nice restaurant, but apparently some of the dishes were questionable. Several people ordered an eggplant lasagna, which sounded good, but it ended up being merely eggplant, feta and peppers – no noodles. I got the sea bream with oninions, potatoes and artichokes, which was incredible. I also ordered “poached” chocolate cake and mango ice cream. We laughed the whole time about what “poached” cake could be, but it was tasty. The waitress forgot my coffee for the longest time, which just made us laugh. She seemed a bit clueless about our orders at different times. Lara asked her what one of the butter spreads was that came with the dinner rolls, and she just said she didn’t know. At any rate, it was interesting. I took photos all around, especially of the places we had visited the past two weeks and that I recognized. I was already reliving my memories …
After dinner, most people who went to the concentration camp had to finish up projects, but Vince, Lara, Emily and I went out night shooting with Steine, the same girl who spoke with us earlier in the trip and has been helping several people with their projects. We visited the Holocaust Memorial and took plenty of photos, which is something I had been craving to do since the first time we visited. I took a lot of random photos, many of them blurry, and many of them artsy. The part I enjoyed the most was just sitting in the middle of the memorial, the blocks towering above me, the traffic noise dimmed, the rain sliding down the blocks, almost like blood. I sat and thought about the many people who suffered. It was sobering.
We then headed to the Brandenburg Gate and took a few photos. I had fun shooting in the rain for some reason, and I refused to use a tripod the whole time. I’ll probably regret that and not having any useable photos, but I wanted to do some funky, smeary stuff. After the gate, we were tired and wanted to head home.
That’s when the surreal part truly stepped in. Steine, who zoomed along at what I’m sure was higher than the speed limit, drove us around and around different parts of Berlin, basically wrapping up everything I’d seen during the past two weeks. It was the culmination of my trip, and I saw the wall, the Reichstag, the TV Tower, even Kreuzberg and the first U-Bahn stop I got off to stay with Chris, all while listening to a random mix of great radio stations. It was maddeningly similar to some kind of movie scene, I felt like. Vince, Lara and I crammed in the back, Emily and Steine in the front with Steine driving around, speeding, turning around in the middle of the road and Lara and I harmonizing to songs that meant something to me at some point in my life, all tied to certain memories back home – Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These) by the Eurythmics, So What by Pink, Kryptonite by Three Doors Down, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham, Mad World by R.E.M. Home was calling to me, Athens was calling to me.
As I said, it was surreal. Then again, my whole trip has been.
I’ve reflected on how I’ll feel when I return. This has been a rewarding trip, but I’m ready to see people back home, too. It has felt like another Governor’s Honors Program experience – it’s a journey, and only the person who returns home from it can really understand it. So I’ll want to talk about it, and I hope you’ll want to hear about it. If you don’t, please stop me from blabbering. Other than that, the memories will slowly dwindle from the forefront of my mind until they are just a part of my life experience. But I have some great photos and some great friends. I’m jealous most of them get to return to Gainesville with each other.
By the way, I’ll add photos to this later. It’s time to pack and spend time together.
See you soon,