Wow! My friend Odessa and I realized today that we’ve known each other for a whole year now. She’s cool. I met her and her friend Lula in Berlin last December. Both are from California. Odessa is from Oakland! And I had known them for all of fifteen minutes before we divided up some strong acid they had got from some creepy Norwegian guy. And then we put the little squares beneath our tongues and waited for the rain to die down before we went walking all night. (Man, see . . . that’s the good stuff.)

Odessa lived in my neighborhood in Friedrichshain, and Lula was visiting from Prague, so the three of us spent Christmas together. After Lula left to go back to Prague, Odessa and I hung out at this cool bar every night, and she would sketch everyone there.

On New Year’s Eve we hung out at her art studio in Kottbusser, and then got falafel and some crappy beer and walked around while the entire city exploded at midnight. I’ve got to say, I’ve never seen anything like this . . . it seemed like every firework on God’s green earth was perfectly legal there, which rules. I’m talking like hellishly loud car-bomb explosions and bolts of fire ricocheting off the buildings and right into crowds. They loved it. You had to keep moving so as to avoid getting nailed. We were hootin and hollerin, Odessa and I, dodging hot multicolored orbs and stray firecrackers. I guess I never posted any pictures from that night:

Later, we ended up at Das Hotel. I was always going to Das Hotel. It’s open till five in the morning and you can hear like ten different languages in there. They got flowers hanging from the ceilings and none of the furniture matches and it’s mostly lit by candles. Also . . . the bartenders were always so nice to me. (AS IT HAPPENS: Das Hotel was the first place I ever went to in Berlin, when I had a layover from Vienna to Amsterdam.)

We got a good seat overlooking the bar and stayed there for a long time, what with it being so cold outside:

Odessa left Berlin a few weeks later and went back to Oakland. I was real bummed out after that. By then I had moved into a cute apartment on a cute street in Kreuzberg, but I missed my friend every day. I woke up alone on my birthday feeling extremely sick, and heard that my grandfather had died that morning. Had Odessa been there, I could have shouldered it a little better, but it was hard going there for a while. Of course I did not know then that the world was weeks away from being stricken by a deadly virus, and that I would have to leave Berlin and go back to California, where I would meet up with her again on a warm day in El Cerrito. We got milkshakes and drove around Oakland in her Mini Cooper and talked about moving down to LA together.

Weeks later she went and moved to New Orleans. Odessa! Knock it off!! Well: I have been meaning to visit her and Leila for a while, so maybe I’ll make it down there after they stick me with a vaccine. But then who knows when that’ll be.

Anyway: Odessa, I love you and I’m glad I met you. OK??