There are a million stories I could write about the end of my time in Berlin (from pulling a glass shard out of my roommate’s foot to the drunk who steals the mic on a karaoke stage to simply state in a slow and methodical manner, “I’m a hooligan”), but it seems a bit disingenuous to now be writing about Europe as I sit in my room (or more correctly, my brother’s old room; these days my room is more akin to a place you’d see auctioned off during an episode of Storage Wars) at my parent’s place in Fargo, North Dakota. A far cry from the bustling metropolis that is Berlin. I’m guessing this post will probably be much more reflective (so like a Xanga, but hopefully less whiny) and filled with a bunch of really random, eclectic thoughts thrown together with little to no rhyme or reason (aren’t you excited?).
Just sitting in this chair the differences between Fargo and Berlin are all around me. I can actually hear a cricket chirping outside my window. I can walk upstairs and see thousands of fake flowers and instantly know my mother’s taste in decoration has not changed. I can go outside and feel the warmth of the sun (I think Fargo must have averaged 20°F more than Berlin this summer). I can walk down a street and smile at people without feeling really creepy. I notice remarkably less leopard print. At night, I can actually see stars. I hear nothing but English (except when practicing Sinhalese with my parents, which has proven ridiculously frustrating and challenging). I’ve put a shirt on directly as it comes out of the dryer and been enveloped in its glorious warmth and softness (I never realized how great this was until I experienced the rigidity of clothes dried on a rack). I’ve noticed the exorbitant prices (nearly double) of produce at the grocery store (always knew Berlin was cheap, but I didn’t think it’d show up Nodak quite like this). I miss tiny cars I can stiff arm out of the way in case they get too close. Also, the expansive park with thousands of Berliners doing whatever their hearts desire whether that’s tanning in the buff or swordfighting. On the other hand, I now get to eat Sri Lankan food, Chipotle burritos, and burgers, watch the Twins lose, awkwardly run into people I haven’t seen in years, ineffectively explain how living in Germany for a year has changed me, and drive a car. While driving, I get to listen to the same five songs cycled on the radio. Also, I get depressed when filling up my car on gas only to realize it’s still half the price of Europe. Speaking of cars, the Hopkins (my old car) is right on the cusp of hitting 325,000 miles (523,037 kilometers for you metric loving folk out there; it’s a momentous occasion).
This has been the easiest return ever. Within two days, I was completely over jet lag and in the swing of life in America. I guess my body and mind are getting used to this whole switches cultures and continents thing. Granted it’s also probably my family and friends allowing me to easily fall back into life here as though I had never left. This is a remarkably interesting balancing act though, because there’s no doubt I’ve changed and they know and accept that. Yet at the same time, it’s just as easy to BS as always. Incredible.
These days, I’m still contemplating the value of unpacking, because I can’t seem to stay in one place for more than four days. All this bouncing around really makes me think about the question of what is home and where is it. This past year I’ve made some real progress on what this means to me. When I left for Germany, I thought Europe may become a forever kind of home, but now I know home is the United States of America. I love traveling and experiencing new cultures, but I love my family and friends more. They’re what make life truly amazing, and they are what make home truly home. It would be impossible to be content while permanently separated from them. That, by no means though, means that I’m about to stop exploring the world, but I’ll just be doing it knowing that America is always the final destination.
The only thing I’ll say specifically about my last week in Berlin was that it was difficult. Every day of my last week I had to say goodbye to a different person. I’m not someone who enjoys this process, so doing it in a long, drawn out manner was not ideal (kind of like slowly pulling off a Band-Aid rather than just ripping it off quickly). I made some amazing friends from all different corners of the globe and saying bye to them is much different than it was when I left the States. I always knew I’d at least be back to visit America, so there was no doubt that I’d see the people that matter most to me again. But saying bye in Berlin, there’s so much less certainty even with the folks I really, really want to see again. Most people still aren’t even sure what continent they’ll be on which makes planning a touch difficult. Even so, I like to think that it’ll happen. We’ve shared too many incredible memories not to have a few more in store for the future.
With my return to the States, I believe the purpose of this blog has now been fulfilled. It’s been a great way to hold onto memories in a much more tangible way, keep people in the loop of what’s going on in my life, and given me an outlet for my writing, but alas, this adventure is now over. It’s been incredible for me, and I hope all you brave souls who made it through til the end have enjoyed the journey. Take care and one final time…
Hugs and hand pounds,