I never wanted anything in my life as badly as to live in Berlin. I can’t explain exactly why but it became quite clear since the first day I laid eyes on the city. During a friends dinner at my place the other evening, everyone started to ask each other how long have they moved into the city and this was the first time I realised that 800 days have passed since that rainy night in May 2015.
Please take your seats for (a very rough) landing…
It’s always either rainy, or cold, or muddy, or grey, or all at the same time when you first move to Berlin. It’s cruel. It’s bitter-sweet. It makes you wonder why on God’s green earth have you decided to do such a stupid and irresponsible life decision. It makes you call your mom and ask her if you can go home for dinner. It treats you with the sadistic contempt you deserve for daring to cross its border. It shows you you will have to put a hell of a fight to prove you’re worth of living in it, but at the same time give you enough love to keep you trapped.
All I want is a roof over my head
Almost each and everyone of us adopted-Berliners has a story of house-hopping to tell. Since I arrived in Berlin I’ve lived in 2 hotels, 1 Airbnb and 2 short term leases till I finally settled on a sexy hipster Altbau in Prenzlauer Berg.
For a good part of my first 3 months in the city, I was spending feierabend — the german word for those two hours after work when you drink a beer with friends before heading home — going for apartment viewings, together with 20 likewise clueless foreigners looking for their place in the sun. A long and painful process that slowly took away all the pride, standards and wishful thinking of finding my dream house at the first try.
That love at first sight
On a day like any other suddenly it strikes you. Finally the reason why you endured so much pain and suffering all this time presents itself right in front of your eyes. It’s like if God himself interrupted His daily errands to get down to earth and whisper in your ear: “Look, there, isn’t that something?”
It can be an astonishingly beautiful girl across the train tracks, a cold ray of sunshine through the window, the smell after the rain stops, that uteral feeling of laying down in the tall grass of your favourite city park, the sun going down in the spree… It can be anything.
After my soul has been stripped from all the beliefs and prejudices I’ve contaminated myself over the years with I was finally ready to contemplate the true reason why I moved: to find out who I truly am and where my limits lie.
Sprechen Sie Englisch?
In Germany if you want to walk the walk you better talk the talk. Although I’ve always lived a very comfortable and happy daily life without needing to say one single word in german, the truth is you don’t even scratch the surface of this city without it. Almost every true Berliner will give you a very hard time and disdainful look whenever you ask the question above. Ah! Don’t even think about using the lingua franca when interacting with public services, they will make you regret having step foot in this country!
It’s that time of the year again
The rooftop season, the barbecue season, the snow sports season, the “I’ll not leave home even if the building is on fire“ season… Berlin has a time and a place for everything! You learn how to value the different seasons and the city mutates to its core dozens of times every year. Don’t fight it, just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Berlin is like an affair that you think you can control but suddenly takes you by the balls and makes you fall in love, deeply, like you’ve never loved before. It soon becomes this crazy girlfriend that is everything you tried to run away from all these years but at the same time has everything you wished for in life. You can leave Berlin but it never truly leaves you, like if we’re hostages of an illusion, suffering from a highly contagious collective Stockholm Syndrome.
After these 800 days I still don’t know what I’m looking for but I feel Berlin is not done with me just yet.