Posted on Mar 20, 2013 in Vancouver | 1 comment

Free as a bird in Berlin

Memories of the Berlin feeling.

It’s strange how fast, after three months of exploring Berlin and my German roots, I have re-entered my normal life here in Vancouver. Berlin seems like a dream already. Was it even real?

I am happy to be back home with Jeff, to breathe in the soft northern rainforest air of Vancouver, to be bowled over by the occasional glorious sunrise or sunset over the mountains, to sleep in my own bed again, to be in my spacious home office which also has a painting table, to have a desktop computer with a giant monitor, to sit on a comfortable chair, to work during daylight hours (mostly).

But I often think back to the thrill of living in Berlin, the great freedom I had to roam the streets in any direction, the freedom to follow any whim, any interest. It wasn’t uncommon for me to do a 180-degree turn when I spotted something interesting. Without questioning myself I would just follow my instinct and spontaneously go in that direction. It felt like being a bird might feel, riding on air currents.

I want to replicate this sense of freedom here at home, even though Vancouver seems as familiar to me as the back of my hand, and my life here is again full of responsibilities and domestic chores. Also, I have lived in this beautiful city for 29 years, with a few interruptions. It is good for me to remember, though, that Vancouver is full of spots that I don’t know at all. Maybe I just need to venture out of my neighbourhood a bit more often?

Ironically, I immediately loved it here when my family immigrated to Canada. I was never homesick for Germany, especially because I felt more of a sense of freedom here. Growing up in Germany, it seemed stuffy and old there to me, full of unwritten rules and societal conventions that might sneak up on me and trip me up at any moment. But Germany has changed, and Berlin, especially, is much more open to ideas, dynamic, creative, diverse, and entrepreneurial than the Germany of my childhood.

To indulge in Berlin memories, here is a great tumblr of ALL of the Berlin subway stations’ signage. Yes, a photographer, Kate Seabrook, travelled all 9 or 10 Berlin subway lines, and must have gotten off at every one of the 173 stops to photograph their glorious typographic diversity. I wonder how long that took her?

And this was my own post on Berlin subway signage from January 16, although I did not document nearly as many as she did.