Also, Berlin is much greener than I expected, in many places as green as Portland. (In all senses; die Grünen are one of the four parties currently plastering the city with election posters, and J. claims she saw biodiesel for sale at a gas station.) But above all I love the space and quiet. Aside from a few transit stations and the unfortunate mega-mall, nowhere have I felt the crowd density that makes my skin crawl in New York and London. Walking the rain-slick flagstones along the canals, under clouds and gray breeze, you’ll meet with hardly a soul. Those you do pass are doing restful things: sipping espresso, feeding the sparrows. And after spending the day hearing no English except that in my head, the words do seem to get cleaner. That aspect of the expatriate life hadn’t occurred to me before, but I think in some ways it would be easier to write here. Less noise.