She hoped the couple beside them in the park wasn’t listening to their fight. They, the other couple, were so obviously into each other and so obviously on a first date. They were speaking English, so there was a decent chance they didn’t understand German—so many people don’t in Berlin. They used to be like them—a couple with nothing on the record but hope. This is what they were adding to their record today: A fight, filled with disproportionate rage given the subject matter—surfing.
“Have you ever noticed how many couples you see arguing in the park on sunny days?” She is directing this question towards the man she is on a second date with on her second day in Berlin. Really, it’s a first-and-a-half date. They’d met the previous evening, not even twenty-four hours ago. She’d forgotten what it was like to feel this kind of hope. It surprised her. She no longer went into dates expecting to find a spark—the kind that left you falling asleep imagining what it’d be like to have someone around again. Someone really around, not just as an occasional guest appearance in your life. She’d spent that morning, her first morning in the city, walking around aimlessly, wondering what he’d say about everything she was seeing. He was the only person she knew in Berlin.
When she asked him about the couple’s argument, he used it as an excuse to lean closer to her and translate. “It’s about surfing and whether the best waves are more dependent on the phase of the moon or the time of year.” Then he kissed her.
Laney Lenox is a PhD candidate at Ulster University’s School of Applied Policy and Social Sciences. Her research examines the role of archives documenting incarceration in societies affected by conflict. She conducted fieldwork in Berlin, Germany, working with memorial and archival spaces as well as interviewing former political prisoners incarcerated in the GDR. Her work falls broadly into critical theory with an anthropological approach to fieldwork. She’s particularly interested in viewing linear time as a social construct and in understanding how this relates to power structures when discussing ‘dealing with the past’ and democratization processes in conflict-affected sites.