When does a chapter end, when does a new one begin? With a decision, the last turning of a key in a former apartment door, with boarding an airplane? My memory clearly points to a much more tender moment. It was January 30th, 2021, around 19CET/2SCT, the location an A350 somewhere over Afghanistan, Pakistan, or India. A bubble in time and space, between tiredness and being awake, being alone and connected, Europe and Asia.
I don’t know whether I floated on the surface between sleep and consciousness for minutes or hours, but I was awake then. Anna lay peacefully next to me, wrapped in the turbines’ muffled roar, a wool blanket, and darkness. Only the mask over her mouth reflected some light. I looked out the window, in calm reverie. The foothills of the Himalayas were probably floating past at the other side of the plane. Here, a band of cities and streets stretched towards the horizon, from where it grew into the night sky as an imaginary line between Sirius, Orion and their ethereal compatriots. A silver borderline between my old life and my new one. Four hours later we would land in Taipei.
It was Anna’s career that carried us from Germany to Taiwan. For a good year we had spun, planned, waited, and trembled together, realigned ourselves again and again, even married. Then, at that moment in the airplane, a thousand kilometers above the ground, somewhere between Kabul and Kanpur, I finally realized: This adventure of ours, it begins at last. For me, it was a new beginning.
The last weeks in Berlin had been marked by a farewell to familiar everyday life, home, and friends. A goodbye was not always possible, certainly not easy, which made each of these rare moments all the more precious. A second farewell accompanied me for months, a farewell to ideas, dreams, habits, fears, identities, and beliefs, awakened with the desire for the Orient, multiple times buried or raised again by the cruel whims and slow grind of the pandemic. The minutes under the band of stars then marked the third farewell, a farewell to the chaos of the last year, to farewell itself. The next chapter was about to be called Arrival! Of course, little did I know how long it would take…