When you experience a city for the first time, everything is strange, fremd. You can think back on your first memories and wonder what it was like to be unfamiliar with the buildings and sidewalks that you saw everyday. I remember walking into the 5th floor apartment for the first time. The carpet was blue and hard – outdoor carpet. There were millions of dart holes on the wall, which were soon covered up by dozens of colorful postcards. The green of the fucking plastic kitchen floor. Goddamn that was ugly. But then I remember how gentle it was under my feet when the loneliness set in, and I could make myself sandwiches with delicious cheap bread.



First semester I would wait out in the snow for the train. I still couldn’t manage to get a routine down and would wait for long stretches of time. It was late January and I was waiting on the U-bahn platform. The day after snow, it was wet and pliable and the Oma was shy. She didn’t want me to watch what she was doing as she pulled off her black glove. Pilfering the snow off the electric box, she rolled a snowball with her fingertips. When it was large-enough and round-enough to her liking, she tossed it between her palms. I caught it out of the corner of my eye as she dropped it on the ground and stepped on the splattered ball. I turned away quickly, because she caught my gaze and toddled to the end of the platform. But I caught her curiosity peering over.



I had come back from my unknowing last trip to Luka’s. My life was changing but I didn’t know it yet. I missed Kristin like no other and the second I dropped off my bags, I took the metro to her apartment. The 7 to the 8 Richtung Messe Nord. I ran up the escalators and ducked through the secret passageway, as to not have the chance for the creepy Asian manager to see me. I couldn’t ever get the door to work right with the zummen. Running again, upstairs to her room, I crashed on her red couch. I think I was dying of happiness. We couldn’t stop laughing, but I might have been crying on the inside. But it happened. The door. The girl. The internet. The first impressions. The veganism. The sushi. The movie. The friendship. Lord only knows that Deadpool could bring die drei Mädels together.



The Ikea blanket held me fast in my double-stacked mattress. Can I even call that a bed? The anxiety bots in my brain were running circles and the world did the same around me. Have to go to school. Have to eat. Have to watch Netflix. Goddamnit why can’t I get my shit together? I’m living the dream and wasting it. He didn’t mean anything to me. But he did. He meant everything. Those four windows: I could see it all. So did I really need to leave? Eventually I can manage. Eventually I am here.



I am happy. Finally happy. I am running through life alone. Past the Leine Fluss and into Linden. I buy my apples just like everyone else. Occasionally the fresh tomato. I cook, for my friends. I live, for myself. I can walk and explore. See the flying steeples of the non-castle church. I stole a bike and rode it as my own. I went to the garden. I talked to the Fremde; I am not alone, but I am. Then I finally did it. The almond shape as an eye to the world, an eye into myself. It is empty because I see both ways and I wear it as a promise to myself. I will have to go home soon.



Summer has ended
and I look up into the sky;
that’s where I shall go.


Elizabeth Berendzen

Elizabeth Berendzen

Elizabeth Berendzen is an undergraduate student at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.