Tuesday, 18 August 2009

A long night in Berlin that changed my life

This post will go up at about 2am on the night of the 17th to the 18th of August.
Twenty years ago today I had arrived in West Berlin. With our friend Horst, Stephen and I decided to see if we could go over to East Berlin for the day. Horst got through faster as he lived in Berlin and we agreed we would meet at the Alex grill. At Friedrichstrasse I insisted on going through first, ahead of Stephen. I waited and waited and he didn't come through. I went through the horrible metal door where you couldn't see the queues or the border guards phoning to check details. I waited. Stephen didn't come. So I set off for Alexanderplatz, found Horst and we waited some more. It was a hot summer's day, children playing in the water. Stephen never arrived. He had been sent back at the border and accompanied by an armed guard back to the S-Bahn to the West.
This was not the first time he had been sent back at the border but there was a finality about this time, up until this attempt there had still been hope. On that day it became clear that he would not be allowed in again probably ever, mainly because of his links to people in the independant peace movement ...
I spent the day in East Berlin, visiting friends we had in common, telling them about Stephen's situation, listening to their concerns and plans for the coming months, discovering that by chance I was going to be spending the next six months in seminary in Wittenberg with one of them.
I didn't go back to the West and to Stephen until much later in the day - something he to this day still can't really understand. He was pretty hyper and upset by the time I got back. Together with out friends we talked for a long time and then the two of us ended up doing alot of talking in our bedroom.
At around 2.0am we got engaged when I somewhat sardonically uttered the words "if you are trying to ask me to marry you then the answer is yes".
So on a day when it became clear that we would almost certainly not see each other much or at all for the next 12 months, we decided to change our lives and link them. Little did we know that it would lead us to end up living like God in France.
I never did get an engagement ring, never really agreed with them anyway. Nearly two years later we got wed and put on some rather good fairly traded anti-apartheid rings, but that's another story.
Somtimes the best decisions are made in the early hours of the morning.
Many waters cannot quench love.