I’ve officially reached the halfway point of my research stay in Frankfurt (Oder). On one hand, I can’t believe it’s half over, and on the other I’m having a difficult time processing the fact that it’s only been two weeks. That my entire German experience is able to squeeze itself into the shape of fourteen days is ludicrous. Surely I’ve got at least a month’s worth of memories.
I took the train back to Berlin yesterday for a four-day museum research and general study trip, as well as a change of scenery. And in a few days I will almost definitely be posting a love letter to Berlin.
But today, I’m going to talk about cinnamon vodka. This wonderful tale spans two days and begins, as many good stories do, with beer and football.
(For readers of this blog who have a professional/academic relationship with me – for the record, over these days I also sent a mountain of emails, read over 150 pages about GDR feminism, visited the first GDR planned city Eisenhüttenstadt (!), and attended two public lectures. I am working! I am researching! Please continue to think of me as a non-hooligan!)
Okay, where was I? Oh, yes. Hooligans.
So last Thursday was the semi-final between Germany and France, as part of the European Football Soccer Contest Thingy that I don’t really know or care that much about. Football for me means Australian Rules Football, and even my passion for that has faded (much like the way the light fades from my boyfriend’s eyes at the very mention of sports).
The VIP fellows were invited to the beach under the Frankfurt-Słubice bridge, where a movie screen has routinely shown matches, and where German and Polish fans gather to shout at players/umpires/each other/full cups/empty cups/the whole of human existence. It was a great time. We were introduced to several staff members from the International Office, and ended up drowning our sorrows over the German defeat at the Latino bar down the street.
I woke up a little foggy the next morning and remembered, after enough of my brain had been resuscitated, that we’d all made plans to meet up for cocktails before the city carnival later on. My head and stomach pinned back their collective ears and whimpered.
Some context: I’m not one for benders. I think I had a bender once. I’m not sure. I’ve banned myself from thinking about it.
Alas – from the depths of my addled mind, the voice of Jess From Two Weeks Ago floated out. You promised yourself you’d do everything, the crazy lady said. No regrets. I tend in these situations (due to some aforementioned lovely social anxiety) to retreat into myself – fill my social quota, and get out of there, only to later wish I’d stayed. When I was accepted into this program, I decided that this needed to change.
And so, after a long nap, I surprised myself by doing the thing!
At seven thirty, a couple of us wandered over to the apartment of Marco, staff member at the Viadrina Welcome Centre, maker of cocktails, and singer of Irish folk songs, as we were about to find out. Our arrival was the anacrusis to a thunderstorm, which as everyone knows is the natural breeding ground for more cocktails. By the time the sky-chaos had abated, there was a pretty excellent buzz going on in my head.
At around nine-thirty, we made it to the carnival – a people-saturated, higgledy-piggledy arrangement of pop-up bars, thrill rides, and the odd musical stage. With beers in hand, we wandered into a reggae scene, and better yet, a reggae band that sang mostly in English. There we listened to the woeful tale of the drummer, who was stuck on a train somewhere near Berlin, and at midnight the sky turned once again to chaos, this time with fireworks.
Normally my night would have ended there – but oh no. This was no night for sleeping, nor was there space in my Get Memories Quick scheme for the Jess of Old. In a basement close by, where a dance club was thriving, I introduced myself to cinnamon vodka shots (see! We got there!)
And to be perfectly honest, I don’t remember all that much of the next few hours. But even now, a couple of days later, I think back on that night as one of the best I’ve had in a long time. And all I can think is: this. This is what happens when social anxiety finally, at least temporarily, takes a hike.
This is the good shit.