A painted flower pot sits on the windowsill in my parent’s kitchen. Pennies and dimes sheathed with dust glint in the morning sunlight.
I left a similar pot of change in Berlin- a stack of 1, 2, 5, and 20 cent coins that I transferred in dirty handfuls into a glass sugar jar on the shelf in my rented room before leaving.
Two vessels, two tales of fragmenting. My dad’s pot, which collected closet dust for several years, had likely filled from split bills for Berkeley burritos, movie tickets, books.
My pile was the tailends of post-work grocery runs, where I crammed broccoli, eggs, and gnocchi into my backpack with a satisfied smile from saved plastic bags.
It is the remnants of coffees in my favorite English book shop, the most recent shared over a delightfully honest conversation with a German student. Over the outside hush of rain on tires, we swapped tales of winter blues, pandemic woes, patches of sunlight found in yoga classes and dinners with friends.
It is fractures of an apple before a climbing session, tart on my tongue. Remnants from lunch-hour falafels, crunching into fried chickpea, pickled radish in gum stained, dog walked, buzzing bike and bus and beanie-clad, mural-splashed Kreuzberg.
It is a few drinks with dates, a compliment on my eyes in Spanish over amber German beer in honey light. A dizzy walk home in purple velvet night, where I looked at the small gray sidewalk cobblestones wobbling in the moonlight and wondered what I was doing here.
Exchanges of change for swapping scenery, for gaining entry, for caloric energy. Traces of the five months I spent coursing through this city, exploring small divots and corners, frequenting favorite spots like a local. Anxiously dishing out big bills, avoiding slowly counting out coins to potential spills of anger from grocery line waiters behind me like a tourist.
It comforts me to think of the future resident in my former room, plucking from my jar of change, swapping it for a Helles beer at a late-night Späti, a warm and salty kebab as spring blooms in city parks. Or maybe the jar’s fate will mirror that of my dad’s dear flower pot– sitting in shadows, collecting dust.
I place a few quarters into my palm, cold and smooth like river stones, familiarized by time. My currency is now in California, in salt air and sun, green grass, new beginnings, unknown to me for now. Goodbye, Berlin. Thank you for revealing pockets of yourself to me.