Email from Berlin

I haven’t been back to Berlin since it ended badly between us. I was never certain what happened; being back here doesn’t make it any clearer. The city looks different; unification has changed so much. It’s as if someone attached an oxygen mask to the place; people have energy and color, or maybe it’s like the city’s been transfused with red blood cells. It’s definitely pulsing. Maybe things would have been different between us if the city had been different; maybe we would have been able to relish our pleasure in each other instead of feeling guilty.

The apartment where the firm put me up is very upscale. I feel a little uncomfortable with all this luxury, but I guess I can get used to it. I probably won’t even be here much; I’ll be working such long hours on this trade deal representing Japan. All that time studying Japanese in college and after, paid off in the end. I can almost name my price. That makes me uncomfortable too, especially when I remember the way we used to save tea bags to reuse them.

I hope you’re doing okay. It was easy to find you through the university. It seems that you’re doing what you set out to do—teach German. I hope you’re happy in Iowa.

By the way, the walls in this place are so thick; I think it’s possible this building was part of the Stasi. I’m sure there are still bugs planted somewhere deep within. Who knows? With the direction of politics in Europe these days, maybe they’ll be back before long. An awful thought. But I’ll bet there are some people around here who miss them.

I’m going to try to find that café we used to go to—just for old time’s sake.

I wonder if the owner, what was his name, Karl, will remember me.

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