For the last week or two, I have been aware that I have to leave here soon. I’ve been walking around the streets of Berlin, looking at everything with a tinge of sentimentality.
I’ve been able to create a new life here: I have made friends, learned more about art, and have seen and experienced a lot of new things. And now I have to leave all of this behind to go back home to Vancouver to my old life. Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to going home to Jeff, to my comfortable bed and my more ergonomic computer desk. My shoulders, back, and legs are killing me from sleeping on a cheap foam mattress, sitting hunched over a laptop, and walking the crooked cobblestone streets of Berlin most days. I desperately need to get back to what I exaggeratedly call my “health care team”: my massage and physio therapists, my dentist, my doctor.
But I walk around and think: Next week when I’m gone, those yellow subway trains will continue to spit out hordes of young people at Eberswalder Strasse Station all night, ready to have a great time and to experience Berlin. Concerts will play until 1 or 2 a.m. and then people will get a bite and go out clubbing around 4 a.m.
There will be line-ups at the Berghain, that world-famous, quintessential teutonic temple of techno, where people will be face-controlled by a former East German punk. DJs will spin tunes in almost every bar, people will be chilling out and mingling and sometimes, they will come up with new ideas. German, English, French, Spanish, Japanese and other languages will drift in the air. Clubs will be open from Friday night until Monday morning continuously. The graffiti outside the Berghain will still read: “Don’t forget to go home.”
Berliners will still complain about not getting paid enough, not getting good work, about real estate prices and rents going up and about government cutbacks. They will flood the museums and galleries and concerts and bars and Christmas markets. They will still eat their currywurst outside at -10 degrees and have a smoke afterwards.
There is no doubt that I still have a romantic impression of Berlin, even though I have lived here for 3 months. But the fresh air of limitless possibility and improvisation I have breathed here, has been real, and rejuvenating. Berlin is like a young person: poor in material things but rich in ideas and plans, inventing herself anew every day. Sure, she may complain about not having enough money or support, but she’s got freedom and opportunity. And I’m pretty sure she knows these are the best days of her life.