My original plan was to stay in Berlin for a few months- until January (more or less), settle in a little bit. I thought I would make some friends, hang out with those I already knew here, ride the trams and subways to explore the gritty streets, have a few adventures, have lots of dates and excitement, travel to interesting European cities and then… decide. I assumed that meant, really, that I would take my leave and be off for new adventures by now. Certainly it would mean warm places were on their way. (After all, who wants to spend January in Northern Europe?!)
Then I fell. I fell in love with the city. I fell in love with the wide streets, the free life, the interesting people. I fell in love with walking down the street to work in this coffee shop or that, riding the tram from East Berlin to West, seeing how the city changes dramatically from one end to the other. I fell in love with falling in love. With many men from many places. With adventures of meeting people, in cafes, bars, restaurants, and even drinking straight from a bottle of wine in the park.
When people asked me how long I would be here, I started to say, “I am not sure. The longer I am here, the longer I want to stay.” But, I also would say, “Oh my word, I am getting too many things! How can I just GO with all this STUFF!”
My desire for a lighter than average life competes with my love for this one place.
Now, I’ve been here for six months. My Visa approval is most likely only a week or so away. I have not only one beautiful light filled flat, but a second, darker but larger flat that I still need to get someone else to rent! (How does a girl who can barely imagine putting down roots, end up with TWO flats!!??)
My flat is mostly empty. It’s been causing me some emotional stress. How can an empty flat be an emotional thing? It’s the pull to settle down, to create a lovely cozy nest, a place of warmth and comfort for me, my friends, my loves. That pull, pushes up against the pull to be gone, to be off on my next adventure, to seek warm places that don’t hurt my knees and new adventures in exotic places that cause a certain comfortable discomfort in me.
I haven’t had this desire to settle down, this feeling of belonging, of WANTING to belong since I moved to Minnesota, leaving my childhood home in New York for new adventures and a new life. Now, I feel that pull again. I want this place to be my home. These people to be my tribe, this city to hold me and watch me grow again and again stretched into this new- yet fully me- person.
But- I’ve chosen a place that I may not be able to stay. Last week I was very uncertain about my potential Visa status and the fear of having to leave, of giving this place up, literally had my stomach in knots. Americans have it easy in most of the world. Go some place, set up shop, be done. But in Europe, the rules are a little different, and the uncertainty for me was yet another thing pulling and pushing against me.
I wanted to just say, “Forget it! It’s too painful to imagine giving it up, so I won’t get attached. I won’t even bother to try. I’ll make it work some other way. No expectations means no pain.” That’s not what I really wanted, but it would have been the easy way out. Go. Forget it. Be free. Isn’t that who I am now? A free bird. A digital nomad?
But, what about my life? My friends? Love? My beautiful light filled flat, waiting to be furnished in my style, waiting to be a place of comfort, light, and life! The harder thing, really, is to commit. To admit my longing to stay, to have a life here, to settle in, put down roots, have this “settled/normal” life again. (Not to say I won’t travel and have adventures, because Lord knows it’s in my blood now… but here I have a HOME, a home base.)
It’s actually terrifying. It’s hope. It’s being vulnerable. It’s living with openness and expectation. It’s saying YES to all the things a full life has to offer. It’s saying, “Yes, I have been hurt in the past, but it’s time to move on. It’s time to be free, to live again with all the good and beautiful things available to me.”
I haven’t been writing much, I’ve been kind of coasting. I think the writing has brought up things, and then this whole space of uncertainty, the longing, and the fear of not getting what I’m dreaming for, has been an awkward place for me internally. I had a shopping cart full of things I need for this flat, but I was afraid to push BUY. Afraid to spend the money. All the negative “What If’s?” ringing in my ears. I mean, I am paying TWO rents, I don’t have my Visa in hand! “What if? What If?”
Friday, I pushed BUY. I decided to jump in. BE ME. This is who I am now. This is who I am proud to be. This is the place I choose to live my life, purposefully, intentionally, open and beautifully! I am going to live with expectation. I am going to plan positive outcomes. I am going to be able to live here for three years with the Visa that WILL get approved. After that I will figure out what comes next.
For now… I love Berlin. I choose Berlin. I live in Berlin.
It still freaks me out a little, to start buying furniture and things to set up home, but its also exciting and interesting and a new adventure that I can’t wait to see how it unfolds!