Berlin showed me some tough loving during my time there, but it also strengthened my sense of wonder. Half way through my three-and-a-half year stint in Berlin I wrote this piece, which was published on iheartberlin. Read Part Two for my notes on farewelling Berlin.
Berlin is… A Narcissist
You know it’s probably bad for you. Some things so consuming just are. Berlin is a city that gets under your skin, making it hard to imagine leaving. Perhaps it is the intensity that you fear you will find in no other place, at no other stage in your life.
It’s the highs, the transient moments on rooftops, the unexpected displays of colourful allurement that forbid you from leaving even when it feels like Berlin has shown you no empathy for so long. It knows how sweet you find a bit of snow kissing your forehead, so it surprises you just enough to endure through its cold, grey behaviour. Those gestures you hold onto through winters, even the winters in summer, whenever – it’s not up to you. As brilliant as you are, when you are out of its sight, you are out of its mind.
Berlin has a splendid sense of self-importance like no other city; it even portrays its scars and battle wounds as something attractive. After all, that adds to its uniqueness. You fall in love and in the meantime Berlin is preoccupied with fantasies. When you party, the smoke and lights and lack of mirrors prevent you from keeping yourself in check. Again you’re in the palm of its hand. It brings you along for the ride, only to let go of you unpredictably. Love Berlin anyway, but learn to read between the narcissistic lines. It breaks the rules and keeps you on your toes. Love its impulsiveness and laugh as it contradicts itself and then laugh at yourself: How can a city that evokes so much escapism be so hard to leave?