A few days after our apartment burned down, we went grilling in Tempelhof. “We don’t have to buy coals,” I said. “We can just shovel up the remains of the bedroom.”
Hey, I like a joke as much as anybody.
Nevertheless, we did buy a bag of non-homemade coals, and – after discovering that the grill I’d been storing in the damp basement was rusted beyond use – a new grill, too. The humor of a grill being the first household good replaced post-fire is not lost on me.
Tempelhof in the summer is a haze of smoke from the barbecues clustered in the two sections of the park where grilling is allowed. The air is scented with pork fat spitting from the paprika-spiked belly kebabs, sausages, steaks, and good char smell.
Not the toxic char smell that currently blankets the old apartment.
Our barbecue was smack-dab in the middle of the denial phase of my grief process, and it didn’t seem real to me that when the guards came around kicking people out of the closing park at dusk, we didn’t have a home to go to, didn’t have covers to crawl under, wouldn’t have a sleepy Sunday morning to lounge into.
But I also remember how deliriously happy I was, between scoops of salsa and a bratwurst dipped in mustard. I was so thankful to be alive, thankful I was living the life I’ve built for myself in Berlin, thankful for the people who surround me, so sappily thankful for the city itself and all the beautiful people in it.
Long ago and before there ever was a fire, one of those people gave me a recipe for a sun-dried tomato butter called, in German, Tomatenbutter. It’s a very simple thing, but sometimes it’s the simplest things that feel the most revelatory. » Continue reading this post…