Anthony McCall, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin
I turned 40 Saturday a week ago. After the break-up, I wasn’t sure how to spend my birthday. Turning forty, being on your own, it just kind of sucks. But then I decided to see my best friends spread out across the day. So on Saturday morning at 10, I had breakfast with my friend Body. I hadn’t really seen him for a number of years, but recently we’d run into each other because we’re actually neighbours (he lives one street down), and so we’d set up to meet on Saturday. He had scotch-taped together two 20-year-birthday cards, and wrote on the inside that turning 40 was way better than turning 20, and that he knew what he was talking about. For lunch, I met with my friend Kal. He gave me a great box of special drawing/designing pens, and a beautiful sketch book. And at 4 PM, I met with my old friend Rum. It was really nice to see all my good friends. Between meeting them, I passed the time with the first two episodes of season two from the new BBC “Sherlock” show, which was great fun, too.

In the evening, Steve and Ursula had suggested that I have a little birthday barbecue at their place in Neu-Kölln. Ursula wasn’t even in town, but Steve was, and so it happened. Marty was a surprise guest, and provided some very nice food. Some ten people came, and it was all nice and chilled, until a text message from B came shortly before 10 PM. On the one hand, I had been wondering all day whether I would hear from her, on the other, I didn’t want to, we had agreed on silence. Well, it screwed me up again and destroyed my mood for at least a couple of hours. The next day, my parents came to visit, and I was in a sad mood with them as well. For which I am sorry (always), but I just can’t help it. We went to the Hamburger Bahnhof (Steve and Marty joined us) where I took the above photo, from the “Five Minutes of Pure Sculpture” exhibition with artwork by Anthony McCall. In the afternoon, we all rested a little (I had not slept well and was feeling absolutely exhausted), and in the evening, my parents and I had dinner in a small restaurant in Schöneberg.

They returned home the next day, I had a day busy with meetings. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I was in Budapest again for appointments, on Thursday I went to meet a former boss of mine. When I sat down in front of the restaurant, waiting for her, I looked at my emails, and again there was one from B. She asked me for advice on whether or not to get another degree, or to get the experience she wants simply from actual work. I was again perpelexed, not knowing what to do. This is the type of thing that I loved discussing with her, that was at the core of my love for her (getting involved in her life choices, and being part of them), and I just couldn’t detect the signals. The next morning, I replied, there was some answer from her, which I then replied to again … Finally, at noontime, after two business meetings I had sort of suffered through, barely keeping up the facade, I called her. And that was the beginning of a really really unpleasant phone call that went on for almost 90 minutes. Unpleasant because she was so cold, and so distant, and so clearly way beyond any serious thinking about what we’d had, and an email like that was just sent out of utter self-centeredness, and that call proved so plainly and clearly to me that she is simply not a good person, or not caring, not kind, not understanding what a still loving broken heart like mine needs. And just somehow really disinterested. Or incapable of empathy. She didn’t understand that her getting back in touch were always and still little sources of hope for me, and that this just kept me hanging on. She still has the key to my house, which she hasn’t sent back, and I had to spell it out to her that these things kept me hoping. And it was so clear that all hope is lost.

It took me until yesterday, but I think finally, B has been ripped out of my flesh. There is a bloody wound now that I will spend some time dealing with, but finally I understand that this is not someone who is or ever can be good for me. My parents had given me the Steve Jobs biography for my birthday, and I have been reading a lot of it in the past days. And I think by reading about Jobs, I begin to understand a little more about B. There are some striking parallels, in their bipolar ways, and in their absolute self-centeredness, and in these wounds that they have, and that come from childhood, that are just too large to tackle when you are a sensitive person like myself. After the call, I was really reeling. I had to suffer through two more business calls, and then had to leave the house and go for a walk because I absolutely didn’t know what to do with myself. I spoke to Rum on the phone for a while, and to Kal later in the evening, and for dinner, I met with old friends from Düsseldorf. They are a nice couple and we actually spent quite some time together, and had a good conversation.

I went to bed late (2:30 or so), but only slept until 6. The only thing, really, that keeps me from sleeping, are these relationship things. And when I woke up, I realised that I did not want to have B snail mail me my keys (and the mobile phone and some other thing that she still has), unlike I had said to her yesterday. I spent until 9:45 reading, and then called her. I think I woke her up, and really briefly told her only three things: 1) I asked whether we were clear that she would no longer contact me — she said yes. 2) I asked that she hand my things to the people in the restaurant downstairs of her house, where I would pick them up — to which she agreed after a couple of sentences back and forth. 3) In the call yesterday, she had mentioned that her grandmother wasn’t doing so well, who is extremely important to her. I had somehow ignored that, and so I said as a third thing that I really wish her grandmother all the best, and that I had forgotten to say that yesterday. She didn’t say anything to that, and so I said “B, good luck.” She said okay, and I simply hung up.

Five minutes later, she sent me a nasty text message … saying that it was absolutely out of place to barge in on her like that by phone, that “next time” (!) I should email her, but that I’d always been like that, and that I should “leave her grandmother out of it.” She doesn’t understand anything. And now I worry that out of spite, or just to make my life complicated, she won’t give my things to the restaurant downstairs. And all of this is really really painful.

Yet now, the illness’s finally been cut out, I believe. And the wound will get better. Slowly. In time.

But what a nasty way to start into my 41st year. By myself. And with not much hope, or any idea where someone right may come from.


About The Outer Rim

I am trying to remember my life. By posting about it. Starting January first 2011.
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