Sleeping in Berlin

Today I go out without a coat and without a map. I’ve ceased to feel the cold and ceased to make wrong turns. After eighteen hours of sleep, with the students downstairs constantly playing the guitar and the flocks of birds flying over the roof, something changed in me. Yesterday I had come to the end of my energy and sleep was all I could do.
It came on in the Beuys wing of the Hamburger Bahnhof. Standing next to the big blocks of wax in the centre of the room, I want to put my arms around one and fall asleep in it. I feel like Beuys is my uncle. I imagine the family photographs of me and Uncle Joseph, my arm around the shoulders of his felt suit. The wax horse, still in its cast, was made for me. I try to draw it in my notepad but it is too difficult. It is not until I try to draw something that I notice just how detailed everything is. Now I’m staring at the wax horse listening to the Spanish couple nearby, discussing something passionately. The man repeats a word over and over, which I think is “energista”, but there would be at least ten other possibilities for it. Like the endless detail of the horse, the sounds can be endlessly rearranged. I am so tired that I am sinking into everything.
I look around to see if the guard is watching. Svea warned me about the guards in the Hamburger Bahnhof, after she was yelled at across the room for spending too much time too close to the paint by numbers Warhol. I had noticed the guards’ severe facial expressions. Nowhere was there a fresh faced art student girl with her handbag slung over the chair. It was all grizzle, old resentments tractoring through minds as they made sure no one was about to flash photograph a Cy Twombly.
I have the terrible idea that I might want to poke one of the blocks of wax. I know this is bad of me: if everyone poked the Beuys, it would go completely out of shape, and then it wouldn’t be a Beuys anymore, it would be a mass of fingerprints of the undistinguished. The guard can sense my intentions, he is like a fox. He is watching me and not dropping his gaze. His eyes follow me the whole way out of the room, and I feel relief when I turn a corner (surely, he can’t see through walls?). But upstairs, after doing a turn around the Cremaster room, the guard up there makes a strange face at me, which I realise is a parody of my facial expression. I had been biting my lips, and now he was doing it back to me, exaggerated. This convince me that I must go home and go to sleep immediately.

Bed is my favourite place, if I had to choose, and sleeping is probably my favourite activity. It seems wrong to have a favourite activity that requires no activity. (For the record, my second favourite activity is writing and my third is going through junk in op shops and flea markets.) One of the things I like best about sleep is the fact that everything else continues without me thinking about it. Everything will continue regardless of whether I am there to scrutinise it or not. And waking up, there is always the chance that it will be one of those magical days, where in the late afternoon everyone is carrying some interesting item that they have bought from the flea market (records, silver boxes, chairs), or has spiky punk hair, or is waiting for their photos from the Fotoautomat, or is with their best friend wearing matching coats. A man on the street corner hands me what I think is a menu for an Indian restaurant, but when I open it up is a certificate that says that I, coatless, mapless, have pricked the skin of the city.

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One Response to “Sleeping in Berlin”

  1. bree Says:

    what are you on about? i have been in nyc for three years and i am frozen even when everyone is telling me its warm! i guess i will always be somewhat australian.

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