Goodbyes, grieving and the gray

Today is my last day in Berlin for a while and I’m sitting here thinking about how sad I am to leave. I’ve always been on the move — a nomad — hopping from one place to the next. As a kid, my family moved constantly to chase the next open engineering job for my dad. I loved moving, traveling and seeing different parts of the country, but to cope with nomadic life, I learned how to detach myself from the people and friends I had met and then move on. I never grieved — I was distant before the inevitable next moving day and when I landed somewhere new, I made friends easily, but I was always careful not to get too close. This trend continued into adulthood where I moved from city to city and left on a plane to Berlin without saying a proper goodbye — I just high tailed it out of there and did not take the time to be sad to be leaving such good friends. Now I sit here in Berlin, in a place that has has become a home for me and I am incredibly sad. I am grateful to feel that way, though.

In the last 5 1/2 years I’ve developed as a person from the person who boarded that plane from San Diego to Berlin. I’ve become more comfortable in my own skin, happy to be tall and no longer obsessed with my differences compared to others and what I like compared to others — confident in my tom boy outfit choices, fashion sweats & dad sneakers. More significantly, I’ve learned how important true friendship is. I’ve learned to trust people more — and learned to recognize who deserves my trust and vice versa. This is what makes me sad. On top of leaving a place of comfort, a place I know and although I am not fluent in German — a place I understand — I am leaving people that challenge me, bring immense joy into my life and who I dearly love. I am making this choice, because it feels right and I believe it will help me go down a path that will allow me to grow, but that does not make the act of leaving any easier.

5 1/2 years ago, I left my dog Chloe in the US when I flew to Berlin. I regret that. I regret not seeing her for how important she was and how impactful she was in my life and instead, leaving her behind — only nurturing our relationship in the end. I’m not going to make that mistake again — I am going to love the people and things that are close to me, as hard as I can while they are still around. While I am leaving dear friends, I am acknowledging the very real loss, allowing myself to feel sad and giving myself space to grieve. It’s easier not to do it this way. It’s easier to be distant and to be removed and say “I’m coming back, don’t worry” — it’s harder to say “I love you and you mean a lot to me and you are important to me and I’ll miss you too much to comprehend.”

I’m excited for the opportunities that await me in America. I am looking forward to spending quality time with my parents who I have not seen regularly for years and to work on developing a relationship with my brother. I am excited to reconnect with old dear friends and I am very excited to have the opportunity to work from the US and experience work differently and in a different culture — bringing my experience from my time living in Europe, over to how I work in the US.

Berlin is a mass of gray, speckled with graffiti and dirt and grime and blood and parks and bikes and health goths and cheap beer. It is a beautiful mess, and it’s made me appreciate the dark as much as the light. I will miss everything about this city. Thank you for taking me in begrudgingly, kicking my ass in the process and at the same time nurturing my heart and opening my mind up to new perspectives. I won’t soon forget the wonder that you hold and the people that inhabit you. Thank you. Danke and tschüssi.

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