It’s funny how I ended up moving to a city that I hadn’t even planned on visiting. I was on the first leg of my solo backpacking trip, in Paris, and things had gotten a bit chaotic. I needed to leave and hopped on the first train out. It was the train headed to Berlin.
As soon as I stepped out of the Bahnhof Zoologischer Garten station, I found myself swept up in a flurry of activity. It was the 1st of May, which is Labor Day, but also the day that Berliners take to the streets to protest a variety of beliefs and opinions. I ended up joining the rally of a group fighting for Turkish rights. I even handed out fliers.
But that’s just a small part of the story. I stayed a few days, and continued with my journey. But as I traveled through the continent, my mind would always wander back to Berlin’s vibrant energy. Although each place I visited during my trip was memorable in its own right, being in Berlin felt…exciting.
It felt like a city at the tipping point– and you wanted to tip over with it.
Midway through the trip, I realized that I wanted to live in Europe. Sometimes I wonder if something inside me already knew that I would make that decision when I left San Francisco since I quit my job and didn’t make any preparations for any kind of return, such as securing a place to live for when I got back or lining up another job in the US. Without realizing it back then, I think I gave myself no choice: Europe or bust. At each new stop, I would head to the internet café, prowl the job boards, and send out my resume. I sent it to every job post for English speakers that I could find. Call it luck, call it fate but the first (and only legitimate) response I received was to interview for a tour company in Berlin. I was in Amsterdam at the time. I hopped on the next train out.
And so began the Berlin chapter of my life…
“It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. A very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run …but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant… but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that …There was madness in any direction, at any hour…You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning ….Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave ….So now, less than five years later, with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark —that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”
– Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson