My legs dangle from the cold metal seats of the subway station. It’s very late, or very early, the pigeons make for a dramatic scene, flying up when a train arrives. I am waiting for Hannah, she promised to pick me up. Berlin main station, a quarter past midnight, just existing feels raw. I am by myself, just me and the world’s greatest power source in a modified cooling suitcase. I spent the last 2 days reading Ben’s notes and Sid’s description until I almost knew them by heart. Not that I understand nearly enough to give an opinion, but enough to follow the instructions. At least that’s what I hope for.
Have you talked about ulterior flux?
I’ve also had time to think about… well, everything. Even though the papers Sid gave me were made purely to transfer information, there’s a lot of subtext. Sid’s style of writing is clear, concise, and driven by the desire to explain his thought process as well as the final outcome to potential readers. Ben’s notes, much like the diaries I’ve found, are a mix of personal observations, tangents and bursts of genius. It must have been fun to watch them in a conversation.
I wonder how Ben is doing in my time? He might have made use of our medical advantages and gotten help for the suffering his instability is causing him. He might have met you. Have you told him about mom living on the moon? Have you talked about ulterior flux? What episodes have I missed of the show? Has he found the hope I am trying to give to people here? If you are getting these, please, tell Ben, I am on it. I am building this thing.
Will we remember anything anymore, if this works?
As Hannah comes up the stairs to track 13, I catch a smile that I’ve been waiting to return to for a week. She brought me coffee and offers to help me with my newly acquired luggage, which I politely decline. I tell her about the landscape, about my weird uncle, and the gifts he put in the luggage for me. I feel like shit, lying to her, but what else can I tell her? I show her some of the pictures I took. Nothing of the bunker, but some nice shots of run down houses.
She tells me winter has come to Berlin as well. We take the last S-bahn and talk some more. It feels strange to come back to a home that is not my home at all. It feels even stranger to do all this traveling to escape the place I am now returning to. I feel like a tree in a bottle. Is that a thing people are saying yet?
Early in the morning, my roommates are still asleep, I move the suitcase to Ben’s studio. I can hear the cooling system humming softly. When I open it, it looks like a proper prototype should look, full of gaffer tape and other improvised fixings. If anyone had checked my luggage, I wouldn’t be able to write these lines, as they surely would have thought it to be a bomb and put me in a hole.
What a weird feeling to own a passport, all of a sudden, and a European one at that! Suddenly the restrictions in traveling have shifted from legal to economical. It’s no more likely to see all the things I’d love to visit, all those sights that have vanished in our time/the future, but I still feel more free and less worried about just walking through the streets.
Looking around Ben’s studio, I now realize I can use some of the things he has collected, though a lot of it is also just junk and I’ll have to sell a lot of soy lattes to pay for functioning replacements.
Every day I am amazed by how available and present coffee is in this culture. There are already warnings about the diminishing wild coffee species and their relevance to culture’s more resilient plants, but it will take a few more decades for coffee to become the rare delicacy it was when it was first discovered.
My generation has access to printed versions of the molecule structure, however the smell when you grind the beans and roast them has been lost. Even though coffee production plays a factor in international human rights violations, the fruit in itself is lovely, as is working with it and serving it to tired, self-exploiting coffee house artists. I’ve shoulder-served so many laptop displays. Berlin is a coffee input, creative output factory. If only it wasn’t bleeding for housing so badly.
Sitting in the studio, a typical gray Berlin dawn starting to creep up, I recognize a feeling I haven’t felt in a while. I am homesick. However glad I am to have met Sid, Arjin, Hannah, and her friends, I miss my own friends, my family, my,.. time. At least now I have the means to do something about that.
Time is a puzzle no more,