Berlin has cast a spell on me these days. Ruby-like strawberries barely last two days on the kitchen counter. White asparagus burst with juice under the blackened thumb of a farmer at the market. The days are full of soft breezes and sunshine, big puffy clouds dancing like cotton wool across the sky. Yesterday, while the heavens broke open and rain showered down, the sky remained a stubborn blue and the sun shone brightly in the sky: Magic, indeed.
We took a walk around a lake near our house the other day. The banks of the lake were heavy with lilacs and weeping willows and people splayed out on the grass. Berlin can be so hard and gray in winter, but when spring blooms, the city comes alive, leaving you breathless on every corner. There is nothing like it. If I could, I'd bottle Berlin Spring for all of you, to dab behind your earlobes and transport you to our cobblestoned streets.
I've been so overwhelmed with the details of what lies ahead in the coming weeks that I found myself, on Friday, practically unable to breathe. That evening, I went for a walk in Neukölln with my dad and focused on the little things: a black-legginged girl standing in the window of her ground-floor apartment, sanding the frame; rhubarb growing out of a two-by-four square of bare earth on a sidewalk; a little kid zipping past us on a scooter, scrawny leg pumping.
Then I thought about what it will feel like to see all the people I love gathered in the garden of my mother's house when I bind my life to this other person who I met and fell in love with almost 12 years ago. And I got all quiet inside.
This is Berlin: all graffitied and shadowy and a little scruffy around the edges.
This is Berlin, too: fuzzy and charming with trees and grass and glassy lakes and orderly red-roofed houses spotted as you fly in over the city.
And this is my Berlin: hand-painted Easter eggs hanging in a beloved living room with sunlight falling through the window just so.
Tomorrow I fly to New York one last time before I get married and before I finish the book. I will see my editor and buy place cards for the wedding and celebrate with my friends and bounce down Seventh Avenue in a yellow cab. I will get a haircut from my tattooed hair dresser (yes, still) and eat Malaysian food for lunch and walk my beloved streets and soak up all that wonderful New York pixie dust that I desperately miss sometimes when I'm in my little treehouse, at my desk.
But then I'll get impatient to come home again, to my lovely, leafy city with its goofy art vending machines and its elderflowers, heavy with pollen, waiting to be turned into syrup. There will be sleepy afternoons in my friend's backyard and berry-picking excursions in the overgrown fields just past where the Wall once stood. There will be lunches on our balcony in the summer heat and wasps will buzz at the kitchen window. There will be bike rides at dusk, soft, fragrant air rushing past my ears, and there will be languid picnics on sloping hills.
And like a ripple of raspberry purée running through a scoop of melty ice cream, there will be this low, happy hum in the undercurrent of every day, telling me that I made the right choice, that this is my home and where I belong.