Portia Placino

Repository of my thoughts and images of art, literature, travel, and life.

Day 3, Commitment and Music

I still feel the cold, dry air that freezes my lungs. The bright, white snow that blinds my eyes. The bare trees… A sense of wonder.

This is my memory of Tiergarten in Berlin. I’ve written about this place several times before. I will admit that I am not over it. And I will never get over it.

I was walking this public park, akin to a forest in my book, while listening to James Morrison’s album “Songs For you, Truths for Me.” I played it on loop, for a reason or another.

“If this is where we ended up, then I refuse to be so hard on myself this time…” Over and over.

Whenever I play this album, I am transported to the snowy Tiergarten. Getting lost in the slippery paths. Looking at the frozen lakes. I am in my black winter coat again, hugging myself in the cold, tears falling. I cry, not in sorrow, or not just in it, but also in wonder and disbelief.

Everything felt so beautiful. And magical. Every nook, crany, discovery.

I crossed small bridges across the frozen waters. It’s as if I’m a snow princess, discovering her kingdom, escaping the bounds of the world.

I saw statues and monuments, one of a couple dancing. I stood and wondered, if I would ever dance that way, in great abandon.

I saw a locked garden and I wondered about it. I imagined sparkling fairy parties inside, that humans are not allowed to interfere.

I saw a musician’s monument. I listened to Mozart and Beethoven’s compositions in my mind. The power of their music resonate across the white landscape.

Before I bid adieu, I saluted a man on horseback. I wonder who he is and what he’s done to be memorialized in stone. He bade me a goodbye too, as I walked out of the strange land of snow, back into Berlin’s concrete.


“Sing me to sleep, sing me to sleep, I don’t want to wake up on my own anymore. Don’t feel bad for me. I want you to know, deep in the cell of my heart, I really want to go.”

Everyone looked up The Smith’s Asleep when the movie “Perks of Being a Wallflower” came out. I am no exception. I read the book when I learned of its existence through the movie. I bought it as a birthday gift for myself.

I listened to Asleep and it was on loop for days on end.

I am transported to Charlie’s world. To my world.

Sorrow. Release.

Pain demands to be felt, as another book would say. And we all have pains. Sometimes, you just need to own that pain. Feel it. Relish in it. Recognise it. Honour it.

It is only upon fully feeling such pain that you would be released from it.

I’ve been described as a wallflower. I’ve been called that to my face. And I have learned to own it. After all, there is a lot to be learned by being a wallflower.

I may not be as tragic as Charlie, but we all have our tragedies. Life would simply be incomplete without it.

Sorrow. Release.

And yes, I am not a tragic story anymore. Life is wonderful.


“You were to me that night, everything I always dreamt of in life.”

It was always a dream for me to go to Europe. I will go on and on and on about it until you are sick of me perhaps. But when a far-off dream becomes a reality for a girl from a small town by the mountainside… There is forgetting. Only remembering. And dreaming.

I recently watched Before Sunrise and Before Sunset again. And I dreamt again.

I played Julie Delpy’s A Waltz for a Night on loop for a solid afternoon. And its on loop again now.

It’s as if I’m walking the cobbled stones of Paris. Shakespeare and Company is no longer in its original location but I see myself having a conversation with Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein. I wonder what I would talk about with the American expats in Paris. Wine, coffee, beer? Travels? Philosophy, literature, paintings?

I remember the small, crowded bookshops that I discovered in Paris. Often, you have to go to an underground basement where most of the books are. It was so full of books from floor to ceiling without an apparent organisation. But when you talk to the owner, he can guide you to the books you are interested in seeing. It may not make sense to you but once you’re in the right section, all the books relate to one another. It was personal. I didn’t really get to buy anything, but the proprietor doesn’t seem to mind, as he’s happy to talk to me about where I’m from, what I’m doing there, and what kind of books I’m interested it.

Spring was breaking and though there are no flowers yet at the Tuileries, it was a charming place to hang out in. You can grab a sit and bask in the sun and cold air. There were hordes of people passing through, tourists going from the Louvre to L’Orangerie, or even to Place de Concorde to walk the Avenue Champs Élysées,  I imagine. But what’s more enjoyable are the locals—sitting, relaxing, having a sandwich and some wine. If I knew, I would’ve brought some and had my own picnic by the fountain that is still off.

They say Les Deux Magots is now a touristy spot. But I’ve observed a lot of locals there still. Sipping wine or coffee, reading newspapers or books. Early spring is still cold. With nowhere to go until my late-night flight, I asked them to stow away my bag so I can hang out at this historical café. It was one of the best afternoon that I won’t regret. I sat there, had a glass of rosé and an enormous macaron from Pierre Hermé. I wrote in my journal and observed the people. I ponder how it would be like to converse with Pablo Picasso or Simone de Beauvoir while sipping coffee.

I envision myself, walking the streets of Paris, talking and finding love. And no, I did not find love or romance, I did not find a Jesse then. But I walked along the river Seine and yearned for it.

And for now, Julie Delpy is still on loop. With a different love story.


This assignment is a challenge. Instead of fifteen minutes, it was two hours. It wasn’t necessarily free writing as well. I needed to look certain things up. And yes, I do want to develop a writing habit. And I’m slowly forming it again. I find that the best way to write is in the morning, right after breakfast. I love music and its challenging to find the three most important ones. I don’t think these three are the most important songs in my life. But they are the ones that I remembered and they transported me to a different world. A world that I hope to share here. Sometimes its a disjointed world, a sad one, and a happy one. Memories, dreams, and wishes.

View this post on Instagram

Last few hours in Paris. #paris #cafe #bar

A post shared by Portia (@portiaplacino) on


10 comments on “Day 3, Commitment and Music

  1. Christoph_Orr
    April 8, 2015

    To flick between memories of travel either side of that brief glimpse of personal triumph over pain was awesome. I wish I’d read this before I’d written my own piece as I feel so much more inspired by the prompt now!

    • Portia Placino
      April 8, 2015

      Thanks for the nice comment. I subscribed to your blog but I can’t seem to find it again… These songs/events came into my mind and I just tried my best to get the story out there.

  2. kanne29
    April 8, 2015

    Lovely choices, Portia! I felt transported with you! I’ve never been to Europe, but you made me want to go! I also like that you did the assignment how it best fit you – our creativity oozes out better when we do that, I think 🙂 Keep up the good work!

    • Portia Placino
      April 8, 2015

      Thanks Kanne! You should definitely go. It was a trip of a lifetime for me. I want to go back, but it would take a lot of saving as Asia is so far. For now, memories must sustain me. And thanks, I love Writing 101. I feel like its extracting the creative juices right out of me. 🙂

  3. TK
    April 8, 2015

    Beautiful post. Thanks so much for sharing. You made me miss Europe and a lot of the places I had been to many many years ago.

    • Portia Placino
      April 8, 2015

      Thank you TK. I think I will always miss Europe. I’m glad to find other people who feel the same way.

      • TK
        April 8, 2015

        I especially loved the part about your time in Berlin. What a magical city!

  4. manxneill1
    April 9, 2015

    I love your style of writing, one minute so descriptive the next so evocative of times past and and deep held emotions

    • Portia Placino
      April 9, 2015

      Thank you. Its the magic of today’s prompt. I go where the music takes me. At least I try. And I hope others would take the journey with me. 🙂

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