I find it really hard to believe it, but November will mark my third year of living in Berlin. The whole thing started as an innocent fling, and then somehow turned into this pretty serious business including university exams and tax declarations. I’m still quite stunned as to when did this all happen.
I’ve always aspired to a particular image of myself, carved out mostly by rock’n’roll lyrics, and when I came to Berlin, I decided to live that out loud. Accordingly, I have made my share of bizarre memories. But as I’m walking along the now familiar streets, without the need to consult every next step with a map, I look back and what really stands out are the dear faces of my friends. Some of whom aren’t in Berlin anymore.
If I were to take a guess at three objects present in every Berlin household, I’d probably say: a picture of David Bowie, a dusted German textbook and a shoebox full of ancient fotoautomat pictures.
Nothing captures the unstable, yet passionate nature of the city’s relationships better than the fotoautomat pictures. The iconic black and white images are just a series of small, rectangular memories, often even blurred, and yet they can become some of your most valuable possessions.
That’s what I feel whenever my glance stops at some pics pinned to my wall. They depict people without whom I’d never be able to settle within the limits of my current comfort zone.
That term tends to get some bad publicity nowadays, but it was pretty high up on my bucket list back when I needed to find a new flat overnight and the owner of the hotel I was cleaning at told me I need to step up my vacuuming game.
And then, I found another job, met the people that would become the friends I now miss, and Berlin’s magic really started to unfold. And that’s what I’m here to tell you: it’s really not the same without you.
This city is made up of its colorful, bold characters. It thrives on incidental interactions. The most amazing things can happen when the right people connect. As everyone knows, a friendship can be much more lasting than a romantic fling. And as I have learned, the sudden end of it can be just as tough as a breakup.
To my friends all over the world: I miss you!
And while it’s great to have friends all over the world, I just miss you. You dragged me all along Warschauer Straße. You got me so drunk I turned on my heel right before approaching the bouncer at Schwuz. You basically put my first furniture together. Those times won’t come back, but you could.
Of course, acknowledging Berlin’s magic does not necessarily mean you have to live here. I get that. We even had this article here on the blog from an expat who couldn’t forget about Berlin even after 5 years, and yet continued to live elsewhere. But I just wanted to let you know how it feels like from here.
photos: Amanda Artiaga
Life goes on. Berliners get high. Rents even higher. The disco ball continues to reflect the sunshine, the moonlight, and our crazy visions. The buskers, fueled by Sterni and Club Mate, are still playing, the clubs are still crowded, some real life icons from the 80s are still roaming the streets of Kreuzberg.
I still write. Frankly, I sometimes don’t know what right before the sentence magically unravels. Doubt, confusion and some unchecked anxiety creep somewhere in the background all the time. But having everything figured out and blindly following your agenda is not in vogue here. Everyone has questions. And your old friend Berlin might have some answers up his sleeves.