I’ve been writing outside as often as I can these days. And that means that more often than not, that writing is interrupted by an overly friendly stranger. “What are you working on?” A man asked as he shuffled closer to my table tonight. I looked down at my phone, then darted my eyes to my computer. “Look busy, then he won’t talk to you.” I said to myself. My tactic didn’t work, and a conversation (albeit short) ensued. “Maybe you need inspiration.” He quipped. “All I need is time.” I shot back. “Time is what we all need. I wish you good luck.” He said as he begrudgingly walked off. I laughed at the interaction, not only because I’ve come accustomed to swatting off inquiring minds while I have minutes alone, but also at my audible desire for more time and less-so for (unwelcomed) inspiration.
Before the kids were sent off into their year in NYC public school, becoming two in one million back in the classroom on Monday, I spent time in Berlin writing and finding that funny dance with inspiration again. It was all around, as it often is in my Berlin visits. During this specific trip, everything caused me pause and I considered The Mae House; its architecture, future colors, and landscape pierced every single thing I saw. The graffiti walls, yellow and green tiled subways and heavy Turkish communities, were portals too. I wondered often about the kids. But a whole heck of a lot about that house that sits tucked into an almost acre lot, waiting for us. “The house is your baby.” A reader wrote to me recently. The more I think of it, pick out paint and art, like onesies and bibs, the more that remains to be true.
I realized the beauty in Berlin spaces was and has always been the way it all consists of this pop-up shop energy, despite it’s permanency and goodness. The chairs have a life that existed prior to the cafe. The couch may have been owned by a friend many moons before sitting in the back of a store. It is hard to find a vintage store like the one photographed above. Things are beautiful, well-lived and gracious. At times, they’re also grungy and worn. If you look at a wall too much, you’ll notice the creases that were not painted. The colors that existed prior to the shade, layers layer over another.
Tonight, as we close day two of school, and my nerves settle as my ankles get bit by mosquitoes outside, I can’t wait to continue to apply this concept to that space, my new baby. What is inspiration without application? And what is labor without the joy? Of course, even if it doesn’t lay into the places that we specifically were inspired for, as it exists, even if only as a tool for hope and a time stamp of the early school days and late writing evenings, is more than enough.