I land in Berlin Brandenburg Airport around 6pm local time on Monday 4th September, with only an hour's delay. The ride was smooth and I managed to read a satisfying chunk out of Patti Smith's memoir. Getting off the plane, I admire the minimalist black columns which line the building. Most airports I've previously been to have had more of an emphasis on curve, veering onto public sculpture. The minimalism of Berlin's airport makes it feel more like train station or even a modern art gallery. I vibe with it.
After a mildly stressful encounter with the German border police, which starkly reminds me to ask for a French passport, I sit down at baggage reclaim. While anxiously awaiting for my suitcase to arrive with all my belongings (my anxiety is amplified when I realise oil paints are a banned substance), I watch from a distance as cartoons play on the kid's zone TV. I'm particularly entranced by an early 3D animation of a bug-eyed character getting chased around by a bee. Considering the airport opened in 2020, I find it funny that they deliberately selected a janky 3D render from the 90s. No Cocomelon for you, boys and girls - this is real culture!
After retrieving my suitcase, I search for the train into town and it quickly becomes apparent how little German I know. To be fair, this is an airport (in Berlin, of all places), so most staff could probably help me out in English. But out of stubbornness and social anxiety, I figure out my way by myself and make my way to Prenzlauer Berg.
I knew that my rental would be furnished, but entering the flat, I'm nevertheless surprised to see how much of the owner's belongings are still here. Among the decorations are a Buddha statue, an old serving platter turned into a vaginal shrine and photos of my landlady having fun with friends. I inspect further and find her bookcase - 'Ways of Seeing', '100 Contemporary Artists'...
I get glimpses into this woman's life, but I still don't have all the pieces. Is she an art student? A middle aged spiritualist? Either way, it's comforting to have her kooky decor watch over me in this new city.