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Friday, August 16, 2013

Berlin, self-indulgence, and the infamous chair wall

(Source: Supa D's wall o' chairs)

I'm still at a bit of a loss at what to do with my surplus of vacation days this year. It was one of the breakup side effects that only registered faintly on the outskirts of my mind during the worst part of the whole grieving process. Ok, if I'm being honest, it was actually one of my most immediate thoughts, i.e. "I'll have so many vacation days...I should just run away...far, far, far away from here."

But that idea more or less squashed itself, since: A.) I don't operate that spontaneously B.) My finances were (and still are kinda) messy C.) "How 'bout you hide under the covers, cry for weeks on end, and drink wine straight out the bottle instead?" was just an infinitely more feasible plan and certainly within my means.

And, you know, sometimes that's just what you've gotta do. Despite thinking that I would probably be doing that forever, it eventually started getting boring. So, then I just threw myself into work. And then -- big surprise -- that started to get boring, too. Not to mention, stressful as hell.

But a plot hatched by three friends (Supa D, Franzi & her husband Marco), was enough to get me out of the city. They were like, "Ok, enough of this crap, dummy. You're coming with us." It turned out to be the kick in the ass I needed to get to the next stage. The next stage of whatever...I don't know what to call it. But it will probably involve me saying this a lot:

(Source: LiarTownUSA)

Skywriting optional.

Berlin was lovely, as usual. It's changed massively since...1998. Not like I expect a major metropolis to remain static for 15 years, but 1998-2001 were pretty much the years in which I spent large chunks of time in the city. And even during that time it was changing right before my eyes. Sure, there've been other visits between then and now, but Berlin was my first big city ever. First time abroad and away from my parents. It's where I first discovered the joys (and weirdness) of public transportation. Where I first fell in love with -- and then quickly out of love with -- tequila shots. Berlin was the place where I decided that I wanted to live in Germany. Like...forever.

These days, the city is just too extroverted for me. I feel like Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused, "I get older, [Berlin] stay[s] the same age." Still, I appreciate it in the same way that I appreciate going back to OKC. They're wildly different cities, of course, but there's a familiarity there, even after being away for so long. Sure, I can't name all the stops on the U5 line by memory anymore, like I used to, but I don't feel intimidated by it...unlike other large cities -- say, right off the top of my head, Paris, London, NYC. It's got that comforting "old stomping grounds" feel.

And the food...holy crap. Amazing food. Mere steps away from Supa D's door, I ate at four different spots in Kreuzberg with awesome food: Nil, which serves up dopeness in the form of Sudanese falafels with peanut sauce; Görli Burger, which, hands down, was one of the best burgers that I've ever had in Germany (but, apparently, not even the best one in Berlin); some bomb-ass döner place whose name I didn't register because and late-night hunger; and Baraka, where we even spotted rapper Kool Savas (and he returned a shopping bag that my friend Franzi accidentally left behind). Turns out, he's not hiding out in another country...he's just in Kreuzberg, y'all.

Coming back to Hamburg, I do feel like I have a renewed sense of purpose. Maybe that's too big of a concept, but that's the choice of words I'm going with right now. But I have some more clear ideas of what I want to accomplish by the end of the year. Some big, some small...some just random little whims. In some ways, it's a strange feeling to think, "Yeah, I'm just going to do a bunch of things for me." I've operated on compromise for so long, that I've forgotten how to unequivocally say, "Nope...that's not happening." And I think that's also what's been missing.

In the end, maybe I won't have a wall full of chairs (which is quite a sight to behold, by the way), but I'll have four wooden chairs around my kitchen table and I'll feel better for taking care of the things that I need for me. 

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