As I write this, I am sitting in the upper room of Markus’s parent’s house in Berlin. I spent today revisiting the Hugendubel bookstore hear the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. I love Berlin, and it was great being back, even though I was only re-visiting my familiar haunts from the last trip. I had currywurst today for both lunch and dinner, and if you think that may be too much, you are quite mistaken. Most likely, you are mistaken because you have never partaken of the wonders of currywurst. If such is the case, I pity you. I pity you greatly.
In other news, I spent last night reading The Awakening, by Kate Chopin. It was some assigned reading for an online class I am taking through my college back home called “Introduction to Literature: Novel and Short Story.” I wrote a very long rant about the book once I had finished it, because there were a lot of themes expressed that I found repulsive, to put it mildly. While I laud the protagonists attempts to awaken herself and enrich her life, she takes her cause far beyond a point I can respect. At the peak of her “enlightenment,” she scorns her closest friend for being happily married, declares she will never “sacrifice myself for my children, or anyone,” and has an affair with a young man who isn’t the young man she really wants to be having an affair with. Actually, he’s a decent sort of fellow, and pulls a good ole Casablanca on her. Except, unlike Ilsa, Edna’s reaction is to drown herself in the Gulf of Mexico.
When I told my mom I had to read this book, she groaned. Now I know why.
And all of this brings us back to Hugenduble. I found myself today in desperate need of some real literature with which to purge my soul of last night’s degradation. During my last stay in Berlin, I picked up a version of The Scarlet Letter (tip of the cap to D.Cous for giving it a warm recommendation, or at least a mention, in his blog.) I had only finished it a week before reading The Awakening, and the contrast was still warm in my mind. So I headed straight for the English section of the store. When I left later this afternoon, it was with my chin held proudly high, and a sack of half a dozen Penguin paperback classics. I walked back across the steps of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, the wind whipping my hair back from my face, seeking to tear my coat from my body. It was a good, bracing, strong wind. I grimaced as I tried walking against it, and then broke into a broad, triumphant grin of delight. I laughed aloud. Take that, Kate Chopin! The weather was working up my temper to a cheerful froth, and I glared at the thought of her and her book, defiantly protruding my lower lip. I imagine my eyes flashed. I drew in a deep breath… and huffed.
A lot was expressed in that huff. A realization spread across me as I grasped the meaning of what I had done. My sack of books, my rage at false-feminism, my swift defense of motherhood and the beauty of self-sacrifice, of honor, and duty, and fidelity, and love… real love, and not Chopin’s mindless, selfish “infatuation”… all of this had reached fulfillment in that one, single, outraged huff, and it all signified one thing.
My mother was in that huff.
And it might sound a little strange for me to say to you,
But I’m proud to be you.