This morning I boarded the plane at Tegel, switched flights in rainy Riga and landed in Helsinki around 2pm. Ferry schedules between Helsinki and Tallinn look a lot less busy nowadays than what they used to be, but I suppose I’ll find something around 6pm, and this would bring me back to Tallinn before the nightfall – precisely 8 months after I left on January 14th.
Given that I have long had somewhat irrational but nonetheless rather strong aversion towards most things German, Berlin was a whole lot more pleasant than I expected it to be. It is a very mellow place with friendly and easy-going people who keep their voices down and move around in an organised way. Berlin’s many parks were especially nice with people sitting on lawns, reading books, drinking beer from bottles (after half a year in the US I still need to get over of this not being an offense one can get detained for) and simply having a good time.
Being in Berlin reminded me of one beautiful short story by Nabokov, titled “A Letter That Never Reached Russia”. You can read it in its entirety here (highly recommended, never mind all the typoes), but it is the last melancholic and hauntingly beautiful paragraph that has lingered in my mind for many years now:
Listen: I am ideally happy. My happiness is a kind of challenge. As I wander along the streets and the squares and the paths by the canal, absently sensing the lips of dampness through my worn soles, I carry proudly my ineffable happiness. The centuries will roll by, and schoolboys will yawn over the history of our upheavals; everything will pass, but my happiness, dear, my happiness will remain, in the moist reflection of a streetlamp, in the cautious bend of stone steps that descend into the canal’s black waters, in the smiles of a dancing couple, in everything with which God so gernerously surrounds human loneliness.