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  • The rice is undercooked. The soup is overspiced. The kitchen is a mess. The aroma of star anise. Madras curry. Bok choy. My hands smell like garlic. Sesame oil.

    I like chopping. Carrots. Potatoes. The rhythm of my hands. The sound of the knife. Thudding. The cutting board.

    I confess: I still miss him. And so I avoid certain streets. Ruckerstrasse. Near the Prussian cemetary. Certain places. Berghain. On Sunday afternoons. Places I know where I will see him.

    And yet. Memory. Geography can be evaded. But not memories.

    The other day I was with Stephan. A spa. White cotton robes. A sauna. The smell of birch. Steamed leaves. Bark. And I remember. I first came here with Philipp. That day. Rubbing salt. The feel of my hands on his back.

    I see him. Lying by the pool. With me. On the recliner. Our bodies. Sweaty. The sun. He is wearing sunglasses. Lecker. That is the word to describe it. Lecker.

    And so I compare. I compare cities. The victorians in San Francisco. The altbaus in Berlin. Lakes here. Ocean there.

    I compare people. Stephan. And him.

    The past. The present.

    Always comparing.

    The rice is steaming. Water boiling. I hear the door buzzing.

    I know it is Stephan at the door. I see him from the window.

    My mind cannot help it--i must confess: in that moment, I wish it were Philipp.
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