In the Bushnell novels, her characters at times lament on the girls they used to be when they first arrived in the big city. The girl in the rain wearing heels at midnight, unable to hail a cab after yet another party, so she walks the blocks back home alone.
Although I haven’t made it or conquered Berlin by any means, I also, at times, look around me and see the girl I used to be.
The girl in the cafe with her German tandem partner mispronouncing every other German word, especially when the vowels change for plurals.
The girl walking into the Weinerei as if it is the coolest wine bar in Berlin. So much of my Berlin life happened there – milestones.
The girl carrying all those books, all the way to Dahlem-Dorf, as if that manual labor was going to take her somewhere.
In Bushnell’s novels, failing or losing your job in NYC means an immediate transplant back to the hinterlands (anywhere but NYC) no matter how old you are; it could be at 40 or 50. Whereas Berlin gives the failed and unemployed chance after chance, it’s special and kind in that way. As my anti-friend says, “If you can’t make it in Berlin, you can’t make it anywhere.”