I watched my parents watch the news. Their eyes riveted to the screen. A tear slid down Mom’s cheek. This was history . . . happening live.
But I was nine—I didn’t have the contextual framework to understand why people tearing down a wall half a world away captivated my parents. Their fragmentary explanation included murmurings of “communism” and “cold war” and “not in our lifetime.”
A reverential hush settled over our family room as jubilant Berliners danced atop a wall. One side indistinguishable from the other as they crested the barricade without fear of reprisal. The only maps I’d ever known were about to be relics.
Twelve years later I visited the remnants of the wall still standing as a silent monument. I rested my hand on the cold, graffiti-ed concrete. My eyes swept east and west taking in a unified whole where a dozen years before two realms had existed side-by-side but not hand-in-hand.
Now from the twenty-five year mark I look back on those November days of 1989 again. A once sinister symbol slipped its shackles and broke free from its own history. In contrast to the darker moments of its decade—the Challenger exploding, Chernobyl, Tiananmen Square—those days replaced fears of “what next” with dreams of “what if.”
The hope hanging in the air has dissipated since then. Detours and back-tracking and hard turns down one-way streets line the maps redrawn after a ninety-six mile partition and the power behind it fell. Sidesteps, broken promises and alliances, new nations . . . time waltzes on.
But the wall is gone.