photos: Beth James.
When I think about Berlin I imagine the U-Bahn rattling on the overhead tracks, pigeons flapping above rooftops and the faint sound of techno in the distance. Berlin is graffiti, sweaty nightclubs, beers on the canal, weird art exhibitions, midnight bike rides, sticky summer days that wrap around you like a blanket and icy, grey winters that make you forget what summer feels like. Berlin is late nights and early mornings, lake swims, laughter on rooftops, marathon dance sessions and afternoons in the park, shoes off, lying on your back under a hazy sun. It‘s a place that tempts you and taunts you, that lifts you up and tears you down. Where freedom reigns and no-one gives a shit. It gets under your skin, and the longer you stay the harder it is to leave.
Berlin is also an identity, and many wear it as a badge of honour. That’s why you see people with Instagram accounts that say their name and “Berlin”. Because it’s a vibe, it stands for something. Being associated with it explains who you are. I’m finding it hard to untangle myself from this identity I have been wrapped in for the better part of a decade. It has taken a lot of soul-searching to make the decision to leave my long-time lover, with its dark heart and endless thrills. Over the years, whenever I felt it could be the right moment to go I would be sucked back in, somehow pulled by an invisible current. I would come up with a million reasons why this was the place for me, and why I could never find anything like what I had here.