|mild if by day|
|wild if by night|
Slouching on a sofa. Cold beer to hand. Good tunes doing their best to bop their way out of tinny cell phone speakers. Laughter and chatter flow over in waves. It could be any night.
Could be, but it isn't.
It's Berlin, and it's New Year's Eve.
And then it's go time, and it's layers of wool and wrapping and wrapping and stuffing and zipping, then it's pounding down the stairs, down and out into the street below. Into the night.
Smoke suffocates the unlit blackness between towering blocks of Neukölln homes. It's hunting season. A bombing campaign. The ghost of Christmas' past.
No, no, it's fireworks! Everywhere everywhere everywhere. Sparklers hissing on the road. Crackers popping. Roman candles whistling past. Flares crackling down from unseen balconies. Rockets booming overhead. Piles of puffy down and knit appendages of every shape and size surround us, with nothing but toothy grins and match-filled hands to identify one from the next as they puff warm exhalations into the bitter, flaming night. Everyone's a child, reduced to the pursuit of fraternal twin urges, sound and light.
So we go. Through it all, with it all, part of it all, onward to the train, downtown's where it's at, it's all at the center, at the heart. The big show, the real show, the greatest show on earth! More beers, decent cops, 'you can't smoke here' offered chidingly rather than menacingly. Crowds and crowds and the energy from those crowds! Still the fireworks rain up and down and bottles clink and clank away and everyone smiles and laughs and shouts and photographs, and it's magic, that energy.
Downtown now, fresh beers from a train station cookie shop gone boozy for the occasion. But oh, now bridges are closed, barricades erected, no one can pass, the show's sold out. No trouble, no worries, one phone call and a party is secured. More than an hour to go, plenty of time, time marching on to the tune of BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, hissssss, hisssssssss, hissssssssssss, with millions of sparks to light its way.
So it's back on the train, following bobbing smartphones through glowing platforms and racing up stairs, down stairs, crunching broken glass and sparkler shells, and then bursting forth back onto the street. The street! Again filled with youth and flames, guiding us to our destination under streams of red and gold.
We pull up outside, which flat, which flat, buzz them all, why not, it's New Year's! One finally relents, floors and floors of families stare down, welcoming, laughing celebrating. A new year! But oh, wrong house, so under showers of smiles and bemused twinklings we go, go, go, again returning to the wondrous street.
A party. A house party? What's there for us in a house on a night like this? A party won't do, so it's in-out like a revolving door, just in time for Time. The big shift.
Being on time for a whole new Time.
And suddenly it's on. We're in the center of everything: the city, the street, the fireworks. The Fire Works! From our grassy median we watch them blaze, every direction, every altitude, bouncing off walls and cars and even the heavens themselves. Crowds on the pavements clink glasses and bottles and keep on lighting, lighting away in smoke and laughter and madness and boom boom boom!
It is The Most crazy-beautiful-dangerous sensory mayhem. It is outstanding.
And somehow there's a bar, and there's brimming glasses in hands, sparkling wine a'fizzing. So we toast with friends and nearby bundles of scarves and smiles and boozy glasses, and we're still in the street, lapping it up, soaking it in, the light, the wine, the noise, the people, the city. Yes. Yes!
01/01/2014: I awoke at 10:00. My face hurt from smiling.
2014. It's gonna be a good one.