Friday, 9 December 2011

Looking for home - First Days 2

Artwork by Tania


When I scrambled out of the bus, with all my luggage and accordion, it was still dark outside. I was too tired to be happy to arrive. Twenty four hours journey can drain of emotions. Still I felt something (or I tried). The familiar view of the HovedbanegÄrden and the bicycle path I used to dash trough on my bike few years back, made me nostalgic-optimistic.
I almost got run over by a bike, while getting of the bus.
I took out Joachim’s phone number, but then I put it back to the pocket; it was too early to call anyone. I decided to get a coffee and a doughnut.
So. What is waiting for me here? I don’t mean the obvious experiences like looking for an apartment, bike, job, etc. What is waiting deeper? What will change inside? Who will I meet, what will I do? How will my life look in a month or a year?

* * *

I like Joachim’s and Matias’ apartment. Dirty, cold cubby-hole in the attic, musical instruments and old cameras scattered around, rusty pot-bellied stove, hardly giving any warmth, the wind howling trough the gaps between shutters. I know I can feel at ease. The guys seem to be friendly and open minded. Joachim offered me a scrambled egg, bread, tea and some tobacco. He said I can stay as long as I want to. Seeing my crappy sleeping bag, he gave me something better and tossed in a cushion. He left me the keys to the apartment, wished me a good luck and left.
Soon I realized there is no bathroom in the flat (no shower!? Ouch!), there is only a small privy outside. And that’s the centre of Copenhagen, Vesterbrogade. That’s why I love Copenhagen. No irony here – I sincerely appreciate this contempt for XXI century. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’m going to use a jar. There is no way I’m walking out in the middle of the night, if I happen to be in need. In the morning I will just pour it out of the window, as it used to be done in the middle ages. Fuck, yeah:)
So I found myself in my first stop. So far everything is friendly and interesting. I’m always ashamed when I meet people showing pure generosity and selflessness, like that, no endeavour. I feel embarrassed because I need to make an effort to be like this, it doesn’t come naturally, it’s more like a conscious decision.

* * *

In the afternoon when I came from the library it turned out that Joachim fixed me up with a bicycle. When I say “fixed up” I don’t mean “stole”, but “found”. I think. I didn’t penetrate it further.
It was nice to have two wheels again. I mounted my girl (all bikes are girls to me) and set off to the city. The chain was wheezing and clattering as it was about to die, but still it was amazing to rush trough the Copenhagen illuminated by cars, neon lights, shop displays, in the crowd of other bikers. Fast, free, safe.

* * *

Joachim – short, chunky, curly grey hair, dark-blue eyes. In some way sad, bit absent, but still has an excellent, sarcastic sense of humour. On the one hand he seems lonely (“I don’t have many girlfriends, but when I do, I’m serious”), on the other, he has many friends, they know each other for years, they are like a tribe, family. He says that he would never give that away. He has a funny hat. Thick, old, felt, narrowing in the front. Like the Robin Hood’s hat, only much uglier and grey.

Matias – tall, skinny, blond, walking in a funny, clumsy way, like a teenager. There is always a mocking smile on his face. Narrow eyes, shinny, full of picaresque sparks. The girls must like him. The first impression – merry joker, good friend to the friends, jokingly ruthless to others. Very intelligent, well read. When we talked about good movies, he knew all the actors, directors, titles. Joachim wasn’t interested. For him all of it is “blah, blah, blah”.

* * *

Tania called me. She’s worried, misses me, waiting for something to come up.
I checked out few flats. Expensive, ugly, boring. Disaster.
In the evening Joachim and his band had a rehearsal in the apartment. After two hours of Balkan rhythms I started a chat with Simon, and he might know a place in Herlev. The apartment is in the basement but as he says, it’s quite good, and apparently cheap. He will talk with the landlady and let me know. I feel that might be my home.

* * *

I went to see Ruth. Seven years ago she was my best friends here. She lives close to Christiania in a container shed (looks better then it sounds). She works as a dance teacher. That’s so her. We talked about our lives, turbulences, changes. We had a fresh mint tea and I had a first shower in few days! So nice. Before I left she gave me a key and said I can come whenever I want, to do laundry, take a shower or check the email.

* * *

The evening with the guys. First we sat in the kitchen. Talked, listened to a music (I played reggae, they can’t stand, they played punk and hard core, which I’m not a big fan), smoked weed. Then they persuaded me to go to a concert with them. We got our bikes and dashed to Christiania, using shortcuts known only to the natives. The concert was in Opera. Very soon Matias disappeared in the arms of some pretty girl, so it was only Joachim and me. We started to buy rounds for each other, and in the meantime he was introducing me to his friends (I lost count very quickly). The concert wasn’t too good, but I still enjoyed it. It was nice to see that young people do something. There are places in Europe where they are just passive and stupid, like a lazy cattle.
I didn’t stay all night. Maybe I’m getting old. After few hours I lost my enthusiasm, and started to think only about a warm sleeping bag. I slipped out. I couldn’t find the damn shortcut we took to get there. It seemed that all the paths were overgrown. Maybe they open up only for the locals? You need to know the spell? I took the major streets.

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