We love the submissions from our readers that we get sometimes. It’s lovely to see their perspective of the city, which could be a completely different one from our own, and interesting nonetheless. A few days ago I received a submission that made me all teary-eyed. A girl spoke about how she had a hard time letting go of Berlin, even 5 years after she moved away from here. She calls herself a snowflake in the end of her emotional and beautiful text, which instantly reminded me of a photo of a seagull in front of the Berliner Dom by Instagrammer steffimarla. So I decided to bring these two together by combining the melancholic words with the moody and mysterious photos of Steffi. Her pictures paint a really romantic picture of Berlin, full of memories and emotions that perfectly reflect the sentiment of the text. Enjoy!
Dear Berlin, let go of me. It’s been 5 years.
I left you – for what I felt would be a short affair with New York, and to crown my academic ascent with that Ivy League graduate degree. And then I sold out to a promising career path. In Luxembourg of all places. Best of both worlds, I told myself – build a career, save some, and touch up on my German before I make the next step back into your alluring embrace. I kept coming back to you. For reassuring coffees with those closest to me – the friends who stayed. For the Autumn fog around Oberbaumbrücke, and for the frosty evenings of pre-Christmas gallery hopping, and for those sneaky weekends, with ecstatic repeats of sparks with old lovers.
Meanwhile, life happened – I fell in love for the first time, and married the lucky fella. We work in the same place. We have a house, with a garden. And I now drive a car, not a bicycle. I am boxed into this wrapping of bourgeois normality, spiced up with some expat anxiety. Behind my career development plan, appointments for short travels, and home-made dinners, I continue to be – on some level – at a loss about life. And my love for my partner can’t fill that space. It’s my space and my void! But here in Luxembourg I can’t talk about it openly, or admit that I have still some exploration to do before I zoom in. Or worse – I suspect I’ll spend most of my life exploring, as one of those millennials who has lots of ambition, some talent, and not enough focus.
I am drowning in melancholy – life is not hard enough to prevent me from looking backward, and I am finding out that my drive and ambition are not so powerful as to overrule all other aspects of my being. I know this cannot go on forever – sooner or later one settles and spins out a new narrative to retroactively justify their choices. I try to do it sometimes, but I still see right through.
Bear City, you are like an old lover – the one who never said “I love you,” but took you further on the path of passion than anyone else. I no longer know if it’s so much about you, or how you made me feel that inexplicable chemistry – when one moves through the city’s vibrations, with peace, openness, fulfillment in the now, and a serene smile. One becomes aware of this chemistry even more just because it cannot be felt elsewhere. All the good memories remain and overpower the rest. And one tends to revisit them when things get hard, when one wants to run away.
The common wisdom goes: it’s not mature to run away. Mature people suck it up and stick around. Get a mortgage. Or a kid. Or both. And fill in the existential void with what seem like immovable burdens. But here’s my gut feeling: the void cannot be filled. Maybe it can be concealed temporarily, only to come back later, scented with regret and bitterness. And even as I allow my gut feeling to come through, I still feel paralyzed by the realization that only hard choices remain, and I may be dreaming of coming back to what is no longer there.
Berlin, you’ve scarred me for life with your lightness, and the curse to compare your vibes and ways with those of all other places. But I would not want to live onward without your scar. Maybe our story is not yet over… Don’t let go of me, Berlin!