where the writers are
Berlin Coincidences 2008

A woman and her husband sat down at the table next to us, outdoors at the cafe. He was tall, dark, mild mannered. She was blond, wore glasses and chain smoked. We exchanged a few words and, though I hate smoke, before long were engaged in conversation. She asked us if we had seen the new Jewish museum and the Holocaust memorial. We had spent the afternoon seeing both. She noted that this cafe was in an historic location. Goering's headquarters were near-by, Hitler's bunker, too. Something about the way she spoke made me ask her if she was a professor. "Oh, no," she said, a psychoanalyst. A rare species I thought with the Jews gone. What a coincidence. It was an interest of mine, too. She jotted down the name of my memoir, The Last Good Freudian and my forthcoming novel about Freud's circle, Vienna Triangle.  We had another interest in common. She taught seminars in China where I had interviewed Chinese women intellectuals and writers about love and marriage. She found that the chinese now exhibited the classic symptoms of neurosis. I felt sorry that I had lost my enthusiasm for psychoanalysis. She was clearly passionate about her profession. Then came another surprise. She was Roumanian in origin but her father was Jewish. He was anti-semtic, she said,clearly pained, and psychotic too. Her parents named her Christina. "Don't feel badly," I said, my brother is named Christopher. But she couldn't take it lightly. Not after all those deaths. She needed to replenish what had been lost. She and her husband went to Israel twice a year. They were both learning Hebrew. I had struggled over the language myself when I lived there for a year. When she got up to go, we embraced as friends.