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Dementi

Rain, finally a reason to go somewhere on vacation. A reason to leave the city. To demonstrate her that it still works without her, there are others, other cities where other mothers live, who also have beautiful daughters. Seville or Cadiz or even further down south. In a country far away where it does not rain through the ceiling. All of Europe is buried in snow, from Berlin to Majorca. Snow, that is already melted when it gets here and makes you wet. Wet like a dog. The apartment wet, everything wet, even the Internet wet, because in Lisbon, the world hangs in long wires that go from one house to another. Lisbon is ugly when it is wet. Praça do Comércio ugly, the bridge ugly, even the beautiful lady from the copy shop ugly. People hide inside, behind thick walls, in the privacy of their homes, in thick turtlenecks, as far as possible, until they feel sick, because they have arrived inside and start thinking about things people do not think about when the sun is constantly shining into their faces. Lost love, forgotten friends, new goals. Sounds like a song of Onkelz! Anyway, Lisbon was feeling a little too save, had its makeup peed away by the rain, did not dress up for the night anymore, because everybody is coming anyway, even when it rains. The sunniest city of Europe with 2,800 hours of sun per year is buried, behind Valletta (it is an island though) and Marseille (it is a lie), in rain, but basks in the statistics. Obviously, rain is not new. Not new to statistics, not new to me – it is as familiar to me as the sound of skateboards and the smell of cow shit, only a little too wet for the dry dream of the Tagus. Statistically, there are more important topics than the weather. In 2007 for example, the Parque das Nações had the longest Mexican wave in the world with 8,453 people. But every now and then, I would like to devote myself to my German customs. The shitty weather, the statistics, following the calls of my ancestors with whom I would have nothing to discuss if there was nothing to complain about. We simply have to complain, because the difficult things that are waiting for processing deep inside of us may not matter to us for so long. As long as there is too little salami at the buffet, as long as it is either way too hot or way too wet, as long as everything used to be better, an umbrella helps against tears and Grandma’s spit roast against inner emptiness. But when an entire city has been built in good weather, the weather is all that matters, the almighty conductor in the course of your daily life. Judge of good and bad mood. Dry humor and wet dreams. Inside, nothing works if everything was simply meant for outside. Whenever it rains (sounds like a different song), you look in vain for a heater to warm you, a fireplace to dry you and a shoulder to cry on because you have gone too far again, too far into yourself. For the new goals, there are at least resolutions (e.g. do not use superlatives anymore in 2018) and for the forgotten friends short messages, likes and many more emotional outbursts the Internet offers for forgotten friends (if it is not on the Internet, it never happened). For lost love on the other hand, romantically combined special characters are not sufficient yet. That takes a lot of tongue. Milan Kundera, a Czech writer who sometimes goes too far into himself, had to write a romantic apology to me for that. What the Bible means to some since Jesus’ birth has meant to me “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” since it rained, part 5, chapters 8-12. Amen! Usually, I am happy when I meet scenes of my life in books (or movies), which show me comfortingly that I am different, but still a part of everything. Only badly formulated, so that I do not see any sentences that I would have liked to come up with myself at some point. Now I am counting the cost, because the old revolutionary wrote long before I could finish thinking what I had already thought for a while. Before I could just say what is so hard to think, when in Lisbon the sun mostly shines on your face and you come out of yourself, the walls, the apartment, the turtleneck sweater, from yourself until you almost explode with joy. Now, this sentence is blocked, forever and ever Milan’s (no superlative!). And I carry it around as literary memorial, as romantic justification of my lack of willingness to commit, as a world-explanatory legend, as a formula for a smug life, as small scrunched up scraps of paper at the end of my notebook, as a written excuse. After all, behind affairs with women are broken hearts who have first names and hobbies, and behind my 96 kilos, there is a little sissy that did not want all this. All of this because of or thanks to the rain? Weeks of rain that make the last dry Sunday before the rain a pure legend that was packed into an old picture frame and now hangs right next to our rainy window, which now looks like a porthole, the view of a submarine. Back when it was still dry, the tarmac was flickering because of the heat and you had to dip cigarettes in water before you could throw them into nature, we were sitting with all our hearts, first names and hobbies on an old buddy, a Miradouro. A lookout that was just going through its second adolescence and ablazed in us fiercely, eventhough it was old and famous. Second adolescence for the semantic sound of the word and Ablazed for the theatrics. A place for which we too were old and famous, which had already survived countless acquaintances like ours. Coming and going, seeing them getting inside and outside of it. Acquaintances that like to spend both the day after the night and the hungover modesty towards the common existence on it with each other. A place that was being trampled under foot day after day, that was being thrown at with cigarettes, spat on and farted over (not by her), was probably dying to get wet. We did not have any plans that Sunday before the rain except for ordering coffee. She wore a royal blue wool sweater in which her laugh would have been sufficient for a movie and I wore a white linen shirt which would not even have been sufficient for the commercial in between. I just got back from another one, another city. From days of my old life on space-saving window seats where I lived on airports and tried to be acquainted and complete in impersonal hotel rooms. I would have expected to be reminded of my good-looking denim jacket when I first entered room 308, sold to me by a broken heart who I shared this very room a year ago. But there was nothing except for a carefully made bed and thoughts of a royal blue sweater. Who would have thought? I always wished to see a film in which the hero lies alone in the hotel room, makes his own bed, puts his shoes next to the door with Prussian order, puts his socks on the windowsill for ventilation without them flying away, and somehow stays cool. Who calls room service, because he is different, but still wants to remain a part of everything. Who would have thought that I forget my entirely highlighted copy of Milan Kundera at the hotel bar right after reading it. Who would have thought that in the late afternoon of my return, the last Sunday before the rain, we would find another used copy of Milan Kundera, with which I wanted to tell her what Milan told me, but thought it would be more advisable if a third party did. Do you understand? If people could hear what we say about them to others, without them knowing that we know that they can hear what we have to say about them, the world would be a little simpler and full of complicated sentences. We hardly appreciated the glistening sun on the last Sunday before the rain, because we thought it would go on forever, but for a certain moment, in which we were nothing more than (hungover). Milan would have been so proud of us and of this moment! Because we were so satisfied, because we wanted nothing but the present from the future and the past. On the chairs of a small café, from which one could look over the whole boozy city. Over their perforated roofs, their protruding balconies, over every single story that happened last night under their roofs and on their balconies. How many people with slight headaches may sleep with each other at this moment, come a little too early or not at all, and then argue because they have never read Milan Kundera? How many people may see the weather forecast for the next ten days right now and spoil the glistening sun of their last Sunday before the rain? How many people want you to be wrong just so they are right? How many live in a shop window, in an existence (or house), that is not their own at all, adapt themselves to the eyes of those who are just looking in, decorate according to the needs of passers-by? Could almost be from Kundera, except for the window. How good would his book have been if he had written it on a laptop? With all the freedom Microsoft Word has in store for him today. Save, delete, copy and paste. No unreadable notes, no begun sentences from which there would have been no turning back. Would it have rained into his Paris apartment despite the spell aid? How much more rain can my Portuguese concrete withstand until it can no longer be a sponge and will express itself regardless of notes above my desk? Even Alameda’s card-playing grandfathers are gone, talking about the longest pause in the game since cards have been played in Alameda. Usually, they flee only from the tide, despite all the wind and weather. Even the tourists cannot see anything anymore, because there is nothing left to see that has stayed dry. Even the indestructible gilded balustrade in Lisbon’s Versailles, the coffee house with the largest range of biscuits and the largest mop in town, seems to be giving in slowly. Everything floats to Avenidas Novas, the new avenues, a district created in 2012 that looks as if every artificially planted tree has been planted by God himself. In 1755, when Lisbon was up to its neck in water, Avenidas Novas was the shore of the tsunami that sank everything. Now the water stands up to the ankle socks and tries to run through the four big thromboses of the city into the heart of the lower town, built on even more water. Over the Avenida da Liberdade, the Portuguese Champs-Elysées. The Avenida Republica, a bypass from this century that would love to be a boulevard. Over the Almirante Reis, a road that winds its way through all social classes and has seen everything from knifing to polished silver cutlery. And finally over the great mystery of Almirante Gago Coutinho. It consists of embassies, kindergartens, magnificent buildings, nothing for a long time and a gas station. Named after a seafarer who once flew by plane from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro. Four big streets that connect many walls, in which the ones, the natives, pay 45 Euro rent, and the others, who want to see the natives, pay 45 Euro for one night. Lisbon changes everything, even itself. Lisbon makes you sit, makes you be late, even though you have already wanted to get up and pay three times. Lisbon lets you get wet and look into the distance without you wanting anything to do with the distance already. Lisbon lets you hate other cities, forbids you to take a beach holiday with other beaches and seems to have robbed you this time even for one season of your life, because the city becomes a desert after rain. All the water directly transformed into biting heat. It is definitely better to read about it from a distance than getting wet yourself. Just as it is better to see a cruise ship from the shore than to sit on one yourself, not to mention airplanes. Flying is very particular, but a different topic. But you can only know if you have sat in one often enough (I have never sat on a cruise ship). I am not sure whether I ever want to look from a cruise ship into my retired sunset, but I would love to write about yesterday’s things today with the wisdom of tomorrow. As long as I cannot do that, I have to continue reading Milan Kundera and let myself get ripped off of the sentences I would have written myself at some point. But only maybe, because relationships, jealousy and polygamy are not my topics anyway. I do not know anything about it. I am a (wet) dog who does not want to use superlatives anymore in 2018 and who runs after a car without knowing what to do once it stopped. Take a break? Pee against it? Chat funnily? I am a train that has been speeding through European, New Zealand, American and Australian metropolises for years to compare his ideas of the world with their reality. Without looking to the left or the right. Just straight ahead, to the front, just follow the ideal nose! When the train came to a stop, it was only for lonely hours, unconditional desire, and exchanged telephone numbers that gave uniqueness at least a second chance. Because everything else stood for internal deception and the train always drove on the same way anyway. Because we take ourselves seriously until we can no longer explain our animal ego, which does not want to go to the opera (but pass go), does not hold the door open to anyone (or give 4000 mark), does not read Kundera, with today’s moral tools. Like the (wet) dog that does not want to listen to the bell of marriage. Not establishing a connection to bonding and not caring for anything darling and shared movie nights. Even though we are talking about the Conditio Humana, I prefer to write about the weather, Portuguese roads and red high heels worn by long legs above them. Why also the whole terribly bad conscience, which can be described best with a sudden traffic – or passport control. Why this uncomfortable feeling that you know from churches, from golf courses or from cheating? From homeless people you did not have a cent for or street musicians you have ignored but heard. Everything needs a frame, otherwise everything is nothing. The infinite relativity of the Internet nothing, the excessive supply of a wardrobe nothing and the open world nothing but a single overload. Everything needs contradictions and repetition, not to be the best, but the most satisfied of the best. At least Kundera and I say. Writing is like loving a woman you never want to see again afterwards. So everything must be said with this story before the new ones come. New ideas that do not want to hide behind a character in a novel and insist against all isms on all the freedom you need to be a real person. I am sorry, too, but it just rocks more! Until I have grown into my muscles and stop believing in ideals. Until people stop going to the movies to get to know each other and men stop wearing umbrellas (and ankle socks), which they then dry (and fold) with a care that scares you. Until you can change your zodiac sign and I would also be happy with a Libra. Until then I go to my night school to unwind in the evening and maybe to meet someone without realizing that I am meeting him right now (to stay in my truth). Until then, jealousy remains a foreign poison that suddenly turns one side into two and breaks all the laws that have been used to explain the world to us up to here. Until then I carry a romantic apology with me and quote Milan Kundera at least when it rains.

Konstantin Arnold (1990), author and photographer, writing features for newspapers (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) & Magazines (Vice, Der Spiegel,..) to afford wine and Portuguese olives. Coming to Lisbon for more than a decade, finally deciding a bit over a year ago to settle down here, after years of having no home flying around the world as a journalist. Currently working on his newest book: Letters from Lisbon, which these two stories are taken out. His homepage is www.konstantinarnold.de

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