Peter Rose
test-traveler/polar star

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desks
salt water solution
polar star
crumbling
miracle manor
lithium
woodstock nation
63 frozen sirloins
cleansing the senses
main street


© photo by Dona McAdams 2000

scene 1

desks

I share an apartment in Berlin with a former East German citizen.We met more than twenty years ago at Friedrichstrasser Bahnhof: the border. I was on the way to Grotowski's Laboratory Theatre in a snowstorm. We got our first place after the Wall came down. The previous tenants had removed a wall between the living room and study. There was a one foot wide raw concrete "borderline" where the wall once stood.

My desk was in the American Sector. It was a modern desk, streamlined and chic sitting elegantly under a sun-filled window (when the sun shone). Affirmations like, "yes, you're a quality person" and "I turn problems into opportunities," hung at eye level above the cluttered surface: CD's, assorted texts, Lucky Strikes, photos, a cactus plant, eyeglasses, pens, rolling papers, a dictionary and small stones.

K's desk was tucked in the shadows of the Soviet Sector. Her papers were piled in impressive stacks with rubber bands and paper clips to keep things in order. A thin beam of light lit her work with dull specifity. K hovered over her desk in a mildly paranoid concentration and rarely swiveled in her chair like me in the fanfare and spontaneity of the American Sector.

One rainy night we went to Checkpoint Charlie. K's first time. After parking the car near the old Allied border she started walking curiously and cautiously into the former "No Man's Land," now a construction site impressive for its cranes, concrete, glass and steel. As she walked, a Honda motorcycle, muffler rattling loudly, sped out of the shadows in her direction. Like a disabled ghost rider the motorcycle sputtered and stalled, skidding on the wet surface. The biker, clad in a black leather jumpsuit, kicked the bike and said, "Scheiße! I wouldn't have come this way if the Wall were still up!"

K was startled and afraid."Don't worry, I said to her, pointing to the biker. "He's a 'test traveler.' Harmless."

"Really?" she asked, still slightly out of breathe.

 

 

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