The sun has been playing tricks with my mind. It used to define my day, the stream hitting my eyelids through the bedroom window heralding the start, the slow fade to black opening the evening.
I stepped into a time vortex a few nights ago. A bar called The Black Lodge, located conveniently around the corner from my apartment, modelled in the style of its Twin Peaks namesake. Thick red velvet curtains, black and white zig-zag linoleum flooring, shuttered off brown windows that allow for an outsider to catch a glimpse of a spluttering light flickering inside. The feeling that Agent Dale Cooper would appear from behind the cornered off crimson and reveal his egg-white eyes was unshakeable. Time seemed to bend and twist in there, as the drinks were consumed and small talk was made, the sun didn’t rise and the darkness didn’t abate. Then the bar stools were being stacked and the curiously chosen Frank Ocean soundtrack stalled, and my friends and I realised it was in fact 4.30am. Pushing forward the heavy iron door, it revealed that the sky was becoming clearer, drifting from the dead black to navy blue, soon to become shockingly bright and vivid with clouds painted across it.
This feeling of time being unchartable, immeasurable, has dogged me since summer set in. The same story repeats itself, Groundhog Day-esque in its pervasiveness. There was the week before that, where I was taken to a dilapidated two story building in Mitte. Walking along the narrow streets leading to it, I shielded my eyes from the ruthless sunshine seemingly aimed straight at my retinas with my hand across my forehead visor-like. We sat in the front courtyard, where the path bisecting it was decorated in useless fairy lights, switched on but providing no guidance in this 9pm sunshine. My German companion told me of the building’s past, a GDR relic that no one wanted to tear down. The billboard above the doorway is yellow, rotting, peeling off the faces of a couple painted dancing. The inside is ghostly, a lone mirror ball hanging from the high ceiling, a modern imposition in what looks like an 18th century beer hall. The sun still hasn’t set.
As the sky finally dims we walk down the streets, lined with prostitutes openly inviting clientele. We stop to survey the artwork in Tacheles, our vision slightly blurred as we climb the seemingly endless staircase towards a vague din. On the umpteenth floor we find the source, a Latin band playing festive tunes whilst couples contort themselves as if the music is their gravity; they are propelled to and fro, they swing and sway and leap. Meanwhile the air is thick with smoke and sweat, and there’s men selling handmade jewellery made of metal and stones and wood. It’s another time vortex, where everything is perfect and nothing makes sense, but it’s extraordinary and strange and impossible to experience twice.
It’s 3am and we’re strolling. We’re somewhere near Weinmeisterstraße. The street lamps are reflecting little pools of light against the cobblestone pavements, the occasional yelp from an inebriated stranger echoes down the block, but it is eerily quiet. We’re standing in front of a row of buildings. Beautiful, stoic architecture, finely crafted doorways with emblems and statues ornately presiding in unusual corners. She tells me to look down. At my feet, a row of gold square plaques. The small memorials for those who were cruelly taken from their homes in the Second World War. I’ve been stepping on them all night. The names beam out from their tiny engravings, ‘hier wohnte…’, ‘here lived’… they’re everywhere I now see. Tiny capsules of memory, of remembrance, of something gone but ever present. Time, framed for ever.
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