Fieldset
walls

I gather speed. My sight is fixated on the vault board. My feet land on it and I spring into the air. My muscles stretch towards the vault, my hands seeking its surface, but I misjudge the distance and my body lands on the unforgiving surface of the vault. A wall.

 

Saturday morning, before leaving for Berlin, I checked my email. The hostel was brimming with activity; a flurry of goodbyes and last minute hugs. The email is from MSF Holland. As I open it up, I do it with dread. The mission has been postponed, it tells me. No substitute departure date. Mid November. Maybe.

 

The last week at Bonn had felt like a runway towards my departure date. On average I’d sleep 3-4 hours a night, my mind hyped at the prospect of leaving, and at the prospect of what I am leaving behind. But now I had nowhere to fly to. Not yet. Not for another, well, week or two or three.

 

Strange feeling. Should I go back home and pick up a few shifts? Should I wander for a while?

 

I’ve decided to wander. The situation lends itself to wandering. It’d be difficult to go back home and contain the intensity of what I feel at this time. I am going to let it dissipate. Evaporate.

 

I’ve been hanging in East Berlin for the last couple of days. East Berlin reminds me of Toronto in its cultural heterogeneity. But Toronto has never been through the jagged dissection and the ultimate isolation that Berlin went through, creating a unique zeitgeist. I walked along the old path of the Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall), and was surprised that I was the only one there. No Japanese tourist rush to the Mona Lisa for a snapshot. Did you know that the Berlin Wall started off as barbed wire in 1961? Barbed wire that morphed into graffiti-ridden walls sandwiching a stretch of sand unforgiving to those that dared cross it. Nonsensical.

 

The Berlin Wall was just a dot on the archipelago of wanton actions that transverse our societies. For years it was ignored by the international community. But in the end it tumbled. In 1989 Berliners chipped away at it.

 

Around us other walls are brought down, and built up. In the meanwhile in the mornings I catch a glimpse of the prophylactic malaria pills in my toiletry bag, waiting for the time that I will have to take them while I try to chip away at some invisible wall.