Catching my breath

   I’m in Berlin! It’s been raining frequently like at home in Olympia, but colder, and so much wind.  
   Slowly fading is the pre-travel insanity — the take-it or leave-it decisions, the simultaneous move-out and move-in with my new tenants, the chock-full storage space, the sale and donation of furniture. Other people do a liver cleanse, or a gut cleanse, or a general liquid fasting cleanse. I do periodic possession cleanses. I suppose it has to do with coming from refugee stock — nothing of mine came over on the Mayflower! So much of it is just “stuff” — easy to come by, easy to let go of.  
   My cat, Eddie, who ran away from his cat-sitter a week before I left, was considerate enough to return the night before my flight. Holding that purring little rascal never felt so good. And now I miss his infuriating little self.
   Then at the Seattle airport with my 70-pound rolling suitcase, my two carry-ons, my passport and my cat, Zadie, who was to accompany me, I realized I had left her paperwork behind in Olympia. The health certificate signed by the vet within ten days of departure, the rabies certificate, the email from the director of the rescue she came from stating when she had been microchipped, the whole stack of papers, stamped by the USDA, was neatly paper clipped together and sitting on the front seat of my car. So she is keeping Eddie company in the Land of Old Lady Cats until I figure something out.
   Being in Frankfurt first, and now in Berlin, is one long mindfulness experiment. I have to think out each impulse, action and interaction — how do I say this, obtain that, get somewhere and back? Everything I experience here is muffled by the scrim of language and the subtle but very real differences in culture (cold cuts for breakfast, anyone? Lunch is served only between 11:30 and 1:30. Stores and restaurants are closed on Sundays till early afternoon if they open at all). I think this is one reason I love travel — exhausting as the process of making my way in another country is, it helps up-end my everyday assumptions and habits and cleans off my nerve-endings as effectively as years of meditation.

Author:

Just a traveler in a fast-changing world, trying to write enough to keep up

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