Lately I feel like I can’t breath. I feel like I am gasping for air and my heart pounds and thuds. Too often I am walking in the rain and the water is sliding down my face and my eyelids are fluttering trying to shoo the liquid downpour away. It has not been sunny in a long time and I keep thinking it will stay this way forever. Grey and cold and dreary. Like last summer, my first summer here. It was so hard then but it is better now and I am getting used to this place that is still so new.
I think about how much I have changed since I arrived over a year ago and the best way to describe that is “a lot”. I am still very much a kid. I will always feel that way but now I feel a bit different, like I sprouted another inch or my skin got a bit thicker surrounded by the concrete jungle filled with trams, bikes, smokey clubs, thumping music and so many foreign tongues entangled in the air fighting each other in verbal fisticuffs. There is still a wall for me here. The wall is big and grey and it is a wall separating me from the rest of the inhabitants of this place and it is language. A language barrier and just communication in general. It might not be completely obvious but I am shy here when I speak, my confidence has waned and my words escape my lips fumbling around until they land halfway diminished. It is painful, especially for someone who gets paid to communicate.
I think it is important to say that I love Berlin. I am so lucky to be here. Berlin is magnificent and it has brought out the best of me, as well as the worst of me but I can’t deny the magic that this city holds. A cigarette butt in a UBahn station can easily be transferred into art here and I am not joking. The graffiti on the walls, the construction, the scaffolding of tall buildings that block the sun, the concrete, the dirt, the art, the music, the sounds, the smells, all of it — it is all beautiful and it is all what makes this place so special. The darkness is there, it is everywhere but it is a sorta lovely, dirty, raw magnificence that can’t be replicated. It is a tender darkness that brings out hidden emotions and heavy thoughts that otherwise might be kept behind closed doors. Berlin illuminates even the darkest crevasses and makes them shine. Maybe that applies to people as well.
In a week I am going home for a while. The homeland, good ole America, with her shiny gates and fast food restaurants. I am taking a break. Three weeks to clear my head, relax, say bye bye to the inter-webs and hello to nature. Three weeks to catch my breath. I am packing a field recorder and one suitcase plus some amazing friends that will accompany me on a trip up the California coast to Yosemite and beyond. I like nothing more than a long road-trip and this is just what the doctor ordered.
When I come back I will have been in Berlin for over a year and a half. That is crazy. I have been so lucky and thankful for my time in this city and I think even a moment, worlds away will make me appreciate it even more. See you soon again.
“What is the feeling when you’re driving away from people, and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? It’s the too huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”—Jack Kerouac (via talkativolive)
“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald (via narcotic)
Travel is little beds and cramped bathrooms. It’s old television sets and slow Internet connections. Travel is extraordinary conversations with ordinary people. It’s waiters, gas station attendants, and housekeepers becoming the most interesting people in the world. It’s churches that are compelling enough to enter. It’s McDonald’s being a luxury. It’s the realization that you may have been born in the wrong country. Travel is a smile that leads to a conversation in broken English. It’s the epiphany that pretty girls smile the same way all over the world. Travel is tipping 10% and being embraced for it. Travel is the same white T-shirt again tomorrow. Travel is accented sex after good wine and too many unfiltered cigarettes. Travel is flowing in the back of a bus with giggly strangers. It’s a street full of bearded backpackers looking down at maps. Travel is wishing for one more bite of whatever that just was. It’s the rediscovery of walking somewhere. It’s sharing a bottle of liquor on an overnight train with a new friend. Travel is “Maybe I don’t have to do it that way when I get back home.” It’s nostalgia for studying abroad that one semester. Travel is realizing that “age thirty” should be shed of its goddamn stigma.”—
From Nick Miller’s newly released novel Isn’t It Pretty To Think So?
I’m spending my evening falling in love with this book and its prose. Get your hands on it, folks.