One of the most talked about cities, Berlin, has a reputation that gives people goosebumps from across the world. Its name is being mentioned as I’m writing this article, maybe by an excited group in a pub, planning their 8th Berghain attempt, or by an Australian girl while she’s telling her friends about her DJ Tinder crush, and all their dates by the Spree. Berlin has such a huge impact on us not just because of the architecture or the parks, not even because of the nightlife, but because it feels like the start and end of everything, a bit like Dante’s Purgatorio, a place where you either find yourself or you lose yourself completely.
ALL GOOD THINGS START IN MARCH
I’ve heard stories about the events, the crazy parties, the alcohol and drugs. I’ve heard all about the music scene and the neighbourhoods that are covered in graffiti, about the people that come here and never want to leave. I moved to Berlin for what it seemed like a great work oportunity, without any high expectations of how it should be. Out of all the places in the world, Germany was never on my list, maybe because I was more drawn to its warmer neighbours, down South, with the cities where summer never ends… But here I was, sacrificing the sun for my dream job.
2018 – TV Tower view
THE COLD HAS GOT INSIDE OUR BONES…
Oh my… that first month was something else. It was constantly raining and I was feeling so cold, worse than I could ever remember cold to feel like – it came with an intrusive aura around it, one that made me feel tired and alone. I left rainny England and I ended up taking the rain with me. Another thing that hit me as strange was how big and empty the whole city was. You could walk for at least an hour and see no one, as if you just woke up in “I am Legend”, and you’re the last person standing, or if the Rapture happened and you slept through it. And if you were lucky enough to actually find some souls on your way to work, they’d avoid eye contact, pushing their faces into their phones, books, and isolting themselves with headphones (a trick I found myself doing too in the mornings… oops!). If you can’t see it, or hear it, it’s not there right? Was I just too used to the politeness of the English people, to the small talks in bus stops or to the random invitation to join a table in a pub if you ever ended up alone on a night out? At this point I was hanging out with people who seemed caught up in the chaos of working long hours and having no social life. I just couldn’t see this place through the eyes of all these travellers that loved Berlin so much. Where was that fun side hidding?
SUMMER, PLEASE WARM UP MY BLACK T-SHIRT.
Slowly the weather and my mental health started improving. I started going out more, meeting people and understanding how everyone connects: this weird mix of veganism, a lot of dogs, Tinder, yoga and drugs. But how do you connect when you can’t relate? I don’t drink/ take drugs/ or have any badass vice that would place me in a “cool Berlin group”. I was in a constant search for “my people”, and still am to a certain extent. The pressure is always there. I’ve had to let toxic people go, and this way I’ve freed some space for the ones that I could speak to about life and anxiety and happiness and the small insignificant details that make life better. Berlin is like a mix and match deal – you try out different combinations until something feels right.
“I’M JUST VISITING.”
But what happens when you start losing yourself? When the city that never stops partying, starts making you feel superficial and disconnected, with its all-black dress code and exclusive guest lists, when the dream city starts stealing your energy and warmth, and you start craving meaningful encounters? It ain’t all bad: you will find some nice people that will share a kebap/ a water / a hug with you, that you will watch the sunset and explore fleemarkets with – people that are as fascinated and confused about this place as you are.
But what about when the first leaf falls in September, and when the awesome people you got attached to decide to leave because they are all scared of what will happen when the days start getting shorter and the nights colder? One thing that struck me as difficult to deal with, was letting go. I often find myself lost in daydreams, in nostalgia, and melancholy memories that take over me for a few minutes. I understand that everyone has a deadline for when they need to go, maybe it’s in a week, a month or even 8 years – and that’s not something easy to accept. Especially in Berlin, the most challenging city when it comes to “forevers”.
DID YOU TURN OFF THE LIGHTS?
But the same way they left, that’s how others will come into your life. It’s all about how you decide to start over. Will you bring your old feelings of fear into a new friendship, or will you start fresh every time, hoping this time it will work out? It’s a bit like getting into a new relationship, exciting but tiring at the same time, with old wounds to remind you of your past. Whatever you decide, don’t worry too much about it, because on a random August day, while the beer is still cold on the kitchen table, and the sun is gathering its last bit of power to shine through your dark curtains, you will know it’s happening. You will know it’s your turn to leave.