Our rooftop apartment is metres away from the U-Bahn stop. It means we can go from sitting on the sofa to sitting on the train within less than a minute. It also means that when the first U-Bahn of the day rattle-hums past, I can hear it from bed. At 5am in the morning, it wakes me up.
I don’t mind. I’m sleeping very lightly here anyway. I’m still getting used to sharing a bed with another human.
I’ve often been a passenger on the last train home. With a high thirst for night-time adventures and a low figure in my bank account, I’m always coming home from London or Manchester at midnight.
Fond is perhaps too strong but I’m accustomed and comfortable among people who have shirts stained with sweat, who have swapped high heels for dirty heels in pursuit of comfort, and where the carriage smells of alcohol and thickness and drowsiness.
It’s the U-Bahn that wakes me up, but as with a lot of things, it’s my imagination that keeps me up.
There’s something about those renewed-by-dawn carriages and their occupants – knowing they’re there, knowing their day has begun, while I’m still warm and only half conscious, that makes me feel something.
The apartment is my safe place here. Particularly bed.
Maybe it’s because I’ve never had the inclination to designate a safe place before, (I’ve started getting a little bit of anxiety exploring Stuttgart with my poor language skills, and returning to the apartment always feels like a small achievement).
I don’t know if I’m explaining this in the right way (but then I don’t quite know what I’m trying to explain either).
In a place and a time that feels right (living with Dan, figuring out my next move), yet still feeling anxiety (what is my next move? Where is it? Oh my god my German is so bad); that 5am train meters away from me pressed up against my best friend, our summer duvet, sweet from the smell of vanilla and lilac fabric softener, is so close, but so far, and in every sense of the word, so foreign.
Today’s Germany has started. And I’ve missed the train.
That frightens and inspires me.
I’m reading lots. This morning I read a character saying to her daughter that to beat fear, you must walk slowly and steadily towards what scares you. That resonated with me because it sounds wonderful, but even more so because after some thought, I realised I had been agreeing with it and living by it since I’ve been here.
My future scares me, so every day I walk slowly and steadily towards the next one.
Not knowing the language scares me, so I walk slowly and steadily into conversation with locals.
It scares me that it’s so hard to make it as an author, and that perhaps my dreams now and always have been too big, but every day I look my dream straight in the face and I just keep typing.
And one day (if it’s not tomorrow, it’s not tomorrow), I’ll leave bed at 4.59am and jump on that first U-Bahn with bed hair, sleep still in my eyes, and my laptop under my arm.