April 20. 2012.
Garth and I run our morning errands in the uneven stone streets, on the wide sidewalks with a red brick lane for bikes and a gray brick lane for walking. Steeply pointed roofs with red shingles cover dirty white clay houses. The beams and bolts of their skeletons show like decorative patterns that remind me of Hansel and Gretel’s green overalls.
The town is quaint. It’s usually sunny in the morning. We don’t know the name of the place. We chose our train stop at random.
At the discount supermarket, we buy yogurt, cake, juice and fruit for breakfast. They cost about 3 euros. Because that store has no bathroom or sink where we can fill our water bottles, we walk on, stopping at a bench in a small corner park to eat slowly.
“I bet it was because of all these smart cars that they paved over the stone road,” Garth says. “It’s like some kind of thoroughfare. It’s probably bumpy in a smart car.”
There are millions of them buzzing around like bees. The other half of the population rides bikes. Including old people. In the United States, old people ride electric scooters with oxygen tanks attached.
At the bigger, more expensive store down the road, we fill our water bottles and shop for dinner. We get hot dogs, bread and cheese to eat. Twenty-three cent beers to drink until it’s time to eat.
We walk back to the woods with our heavy, bright yellow shopping bag and sit in the treehouse all afternoon.
“After this, we may have to go live in the woods,” Garth says. “I mean really in the woods. Not half and half like we’re doing now.”
“I wanna live by the ocean,” I say.
“How about the Mediterranean? It’s tropical.”
“I don’t wanna live in the tropics.”
I don’t like the tropics. They make me feel exposed and out of place. I want to live somewhere dark and cold. If I’m gonna be homeless, I don’t wanna be hot, sticky, sweaty and constantly under attack by swarms of large mosquitoes and other insects. I don’t want to look at a perfect teal ocean with immaculate surfing swells. I want the raging mad crash of the northern sea.
Too many people wanna live in perfect, ideal places. They’re always crowded with big hotels and fancy restaurants I can’t afford.
Garth names a few other places.
“You wanna live in Ireland?” he says.
I don’t know why. I’ve always been drawn to it.
I want to be in a place I’m drawn to. Not because a writer I like lived there or because Garth wants to go there or because something’s happening there. Just because I, as my pure and uninfluenced self, felt drawn to it. In the entire world, no place but Ireland fits that description. It’s the only place I can remember wanting to go when I was a kid, before I met anyone or knew anything.
It’s the best I can do to find a home. I’ve been on the road for at least 7 years. It’s been 13 years since the last time I felt like I had a home.
I feel hollowed out, like those tight, squirmy ruts a termite carves in wood.
“Will you still like me if I’m insane?” I ask Garth.
“You won’t be insane,” he says, putting his hand on the side of my face.
When he does that, I feel like I could just be a helpless woman, like I always thought I had to prove I wasn’t, and he would take care of me and I’d be a housewife and bake muffins and everything would be okay.
“But what if I can’t do anything?” I ask.
“I’ll take care of you. I’ll bring you food and stuff.”
“I really like it when you do stuff like make me a sandwich.”
“I’ll still like you,” he says.
The truth, like a big, rusty gong at dawn, blowing away all the white gulls and innocent doves, is that I sometimes wonder if Garth only likes me because I’m willing to live this weird, adventurous lifestyle. I’d been doing it long before he met me. There was no point at which I was doing it in order to be with him. We’ve found something rare and unexpected in each other. I’m afraid he’ll get bored and leave if I say I want to sit still and do nothing for a while.
But a whole other truth is that he, too, genuinely enjoys peace and a place to be whenever we have them.
Besides, I’ll never be completely normal. I can’t get a job. Not an on-the-books one anyway. If I filled out the amount of paperwork necessary to get an on-the-books job outside the U.S. I’d end up chewing on a metal table leg in a police station, trying to sell used panty-liners to the convicts thru the food slots in their holding cell doors.
I can’t get back “On Record” again. I tried that last summer. I ended up sawing the ring fingers off of three DMV workers and tying two post office workers to trees with cat entrails. I just can’t be a part of that system. I can’t be a cog in a machine.
It’s 2:40pm. If I wanted to, I could still build a raft before nightfall and float away like Tom Sawyer. I still have time to duct tape someone’s hands together. Write a 2,000-word erotic vignette. Swallow a spider. Wash my underwear in the bathroom sink at the grocery store. I still have time to eat a whole bottle of aspirin, lie down on the grassy, mossy forest floor and let the swaying pines pull my heart apart the way you pull apart a crocheted pot holder- just grab the end of that one loose strand and let it all unravel, watching stitch after stitch pop apart, row after row of the square disappear, until the pot holder no longer exists and all you have is a crimped string for a cat to chase.
“This computer sucks,” Garth mutters. “Fuck.”
He’s always getting mad at some electronic device.
It’s probably 2:45pm now. If I wanted to, I could still cut my fingernails and shred my flannel shirt and make wings out of them.
We’re really just waiting here to see if they’ll open up sleeping spaces in the “Occupied” Hall at the KW. There are emails going around which advise people to find someplace else to stay. But what if you have no money for hotels or hostels? What if you don’t want to impose on a stranger for 8 weeks? Many, many activists are coming to Berlin from afar to be involved in the Biennale. Like us, they probably think, based on information publicized by the Occupied Biennale group, that the Hall at the KW will be a full-on Occupy Encampment, complete with kitchen and sleeping space.