Some Thoughts on Valentine’s Day in Berlin
It is Valentine’s Day Eve, and I am in my apartment in Berlin. Sipping a glass of cheap Bardolino and eating homemade spaghetti, I wonder if I care. Valentine’s Day is traditionally a day of forlornness mixed with an “I don’t care for these stupid Hallmark holidays,” for anyone who feels not normal. A day on which it is convenient to forget the date, sneaky memories of past flames, or flames that never were, flit by. This stupid day, that engenders such insecurity, why was it created? I mean, really, why? Besides the need to sell canned cards, and lately, to feed the ever growing societal shopping craze, for what does it serve?
I love the fact that today, Valentine’s Day Eve, is Friday the 13th, another day that society recognizes, but for its omen of ill, rather than of love. This day, for me, began surprisingly well. The sun actually revealed its face, a notable fact for a Berlin winter, and the warmth of it soaked through my gloves as I rode my bike by the aggressive Berliner taxi drivers. At this time, as my brain is basking in wine, I realize it was a good day. In true Friday the 13th style, however, I was actually almost assaulted by an aggressive man who, convinced I was trying to throw my elderly dog into the oncoming traffic, was valiantly trying to save her. Thankfully a wonderfully kind German woman, together with her three small children, intervened and saved both me and my dog Polly, from a nasty situation. Despite a few tears, the memory of the warmth of the sun prevailed, and I can still state to you, that today, Friday, 13 February, was a good day.
I can’t help to stop the empty, ridiculousness that Valentine’s Day can bring. It is so useless; a manufactured holiday that forces self-evaluation. Now that I have written that, I realize that is not so bad. A few moments of self-examination can really pay off. In that vein, I address myself: I am American. I was never proud of that fact until I moved out of the United States. Lately, as I maneuver a car confidently through the streets of Berlin while my European friends are astonished at my gumption, I am proud. I am happy that I have a tendency towards rule breaking, although I certainly have learned to not indulge it in Germany. However, as I settle in before the TV, after a day of proud American-ness, I realize that there are some short comings in my development, and I mean in my attitude towards sex. Some of the commercials on German television are shocking! I actually saw one for a dildo last night on a free channel! At some other point in time, while watching TV in my budget hotel and in a valiant attempt to learn German, I was subjecting myself to some sort of fund drive, when a nicely endowed topless model began to entice me to send in some money. What?! Isn’t this the land of Martin Luther?
After recovering from my shock, and remembering that in the US I don’t consider myself a prude, I start to realize that maybe, after German standards, I actually am. Oh dear; that is a totally undesirable state of affairs that must be changed. Hearkening back to the Valentine’s Day theme that is so well supported by the glorious day of sunshine that was today, Friday the 13th, and the sun that is forecasted for our said holiday tomorrow, Valentine’s Day, I realize that it is perhaps the first day of the year that spring arrives to tease us. Spring, the time of year when life peaks out from underneath the faux death grimace of winter. Spring, the season that has arrived just in time. It begs the question; what is life without death? In our mortal minds it is probably nothing.
Death. What is it but the absence of anything: love and loneliness, pleasure and pain? Children seem to find life in everything, but after adolescence takes its toll, adults seem to only find life in sex. Is adulthood really just a slow descent towards death? If sex is the only desire that adults truly have and that desire is frowned upon, except in certain defined circumstances, what else is there? Well, Valentine’s Day is here, and upon closer examination, it can remind us adults that life exists, along with sex, love, pain, and loneliness. As I emerge from my American stupor, I applaud the German attitude towards sex. As I wait for flowers to bloom, I realize that sex is worthy of celebration. So celebrate Valentine’s Day in the best way possible; embrace your sexuality, or lack thereof, and take a walk in the sun.
By Sasha Prince
Sasha is a classical singer and animal lover and has been in Berlin since 2014. She is from the US and the place she lived the longest is Austin, Texas.