It’s been a long time since I’ve fallen so hard for a city. I fell in love immediately because Berlin is vast, just like my city; as soon as we arrived I knew we were in another place where the possibility for exploration was endless.
To be completely forthright, I was the most excited for but also the most nervous about Berlin. Before this trip, if I was playing word association it would go like this: Germany –> Nazis –> Racist = maybe not somewhere we would be welcome–I as a mixed woman and we as a mixed couple. I say this to highlight that racial attitudes are something I research before we travel anywhere. It’s one of those things that doesn’t get recognized as white privilege–not having to consider if the color of your skin might make you not safe or not so welcome in a place you are traveling.
My nerves about Berlin were squashed within the first few minutes of walking around. I have never encountered a city that was so honest and transparent about its past. Everywhere you look there is an admission, a truth, and a sincere attempt to reconcile. While there are clear acknowledgments of their history everywhere, they’ve also taken care not to encourage its celebration by low minded people. They’ve made Hitler’s bunker into a parking lot. In other words, they don’t hang confederate flags and call it “heritage”.
In 12 step programs you have to make amends, you have to “admit the wreckage of your past” before you can truly get well. Berlin seems to understand that this concept applies to countries and cities, not just individuals. I wish my country could start to understand this as well.
I’ve mentioned before that my hubs and I have dreams of living abroad for a year or two. Suddenly, in Berlin, we started talking about how hard it would be to leave NYC; we love our home so much. I think this new city must have touched us in some way that we stopped looking at moving as this wonderful fantasy, and were suddenly considering the realities of living so far away.
Berlin, I will write about you again. My thoughts about you are endless, as is, I think, my love. We will be back–to visit…or to live…and surely, to learn, explore, live in truth, and be inspired.