I'm in Berlin for a board meeting and have to stick around until Friday when I go to Croatia to check out venues for this year's Summit. I've been complaining for about 2 months about having to be in Europe while friends and family laze about in a summer stupor back home. My determination to make new year in Berlin "worth while" was probably behind the first of what I expect will be many encounters with H's world of the stupid in 2007.
Dinner with Ronaldo, Vivien, Volker and his girlfriend was lovely enough. Expensive (at 90 EUROs - about R900!) but worth (almost) every cent to spend an evening of civilised conversation in a nice restaurant where normal, well-adjusted individuals dines with friends and family before going back home to woolen carpets and umbrellas.
Oh, but Heather couldn't just accept the lovely evening as it was and go directly back to the warm hotel. No! She had to enjoy herself and have a real party!
Off in a cab she went. To another part of the city where she met a work colleague who had invited her to a friend's party in a small, modern apartment in the South East of the city. You had to use your imagination to think of this as someone actually lived - every inch of counter space hosted bottles of alcohol - from expensive champagne to medicinal vodka with imaginative names like 'wodka' or 'snodka'. Why didn't they just label them all: 'Drugs-for-desperate-people'?
There seemed to be loads of fabulous people there. And some gay boys for added PC points. But, since none of the fabulous people seemed particularly interested in talking to me in my fabulous sparkly dress, I shrank back to the kitchen where I plied myself with a variety of champagne/wine/sparkling wine and other similar-colored alcohol (my mother told me never to mix my drinks) from the generous supply of international good will on the counters. I stood with my back to the cupboards, drinking as a way of doing something with my unoccupied mouth. I watched a few enthusiastic individuals putting on their especially thrilled and excited and life-loving faces and wondered why I couldn't just lighten up like the doll-girl with the brilliant white grin and the fabulous brown writhing body. Surely you couldn't naturally keep that smile without blinking or stopping to rest!
Somehow the rest of the evening has fallen under a strange dark mist. I remember saying something mean to someone because they weren't giving me their full attention and then stomping off into the freezing night to find better parties where people are not so bloody irritating and would bloody well shower me with affection. But I only managed to stomp as far as the bottom corridor of the building when I realised for the first time of many that evening that I was lost. Eventually, after careful navigation, I managed to find my way out of the building, and after walking determinely for an hour or so and landing back at the place I started, I began to weep. 'U-bahn! Where's the U-bahn?' I cried pitifully to anyone who would listen.
On I trudged: 'I hate this job etc. Why can't I just have a normal life? etc Why aren't I snuggled in bed with a husband and two children by now? What's wrong with me!' etc etc interspersed by attempts to call my boyfriend back home and ask him for directions. He didn't answer. Apparently his phone was on silent. Lucky for him.
By the time I reached the U-Bahn, I was almost horizontal I had sunk so far into my personal bathing spot of self pity. Studying the map oh-so-very-carefully but only seeing random scatterings of letters that refused to be comprehended, I closed my eyes and let my intuition guide me. I leapt into the train to my left and with eyes glued to the map in the train, I concentrated very hard and tried to ignore the taunting faces of the youths who at least were young enough for such antics.
Friedrichstrasse. Victory! I walked determinedly to the hotel, not pausing to celebrate until I was safe in my room. After all, the room may have vanished. Berlin may be destroyed any second, I thought. All the unhappy soccer fans may decide to decend on the city to wreak havoc and force people on the streets to kick balls around until they died screaming to be saved.
By 4.30am (I think) I was in bed, thankful that the nightmare had ended and that my limbs hadn't succumbed to frostbite. What a way to start the new year: tears and ranting and a brand new hangover.