I have a confession to make.
I was going to write a detailed review of a trip I took to Leipzig. And I had written it, actually, from start to finish. I was just editing and adding links, and by the misfortune of an errant keystroke, I deleted the entire thing in Squarespace, irretrievably.
Yep, honest to God. In a split second, all text deleted. No salvation offered by any number of Ctrl-Z-mashing. (okay, "Command-Z". I have a Mac. Whatever.) Hours of transcribing my life into pristine digital content, lost to the void. Major fail.
Not going to lie, the prospect of rewriting the whole thing from scratch was discouraging. These things take a fair amount of time and effort to make, even on a blog as casual, simplistic and downright rudderless as mine. I thought about giving up; about abolishing my obligation to write stuff down in favor of just enjoying my experience over here for what it is, and hosting my memories locally on my own mental servers, securely encrypted and backed up for posterity.
But, a few days later, I remembered something.
This is supposed to be a fun, rewarding creative outlet, not some deadlined homework assignment or stress-inducing professional obligation. There are no rules on Gluckin Around Dot Com, except those that I feel like following.
So, readers, there is no Leipzig review. There won't be a Leipzig review. I'm moving on. (And I'm not writing my blog posts in Squarespace anymore. Evernote for the win.)
Trust me, Leipzig's a cool city. I recommend it. There's a photo gallery under "Galleries" if you want to find out what it looks like. Drop me a line if you need tips. There, done.
Instead, I’m feeling like it’s time for an update on all things Berlin, and a review of sorts of what’s happened so far. It’s been a little over three months since I’ve been here, a not-insignificant chunk of chronological change. Long enough, to be sure, to lose count of all the things that have happened. But it’s my goal (especially in writing on this site) not to lose count, or let time pass me by here without taking stock now and then.
So without further ado, I present to you Berlin By The Numbers, my best attempt at tallying up the most important numerical milestones of my time here so far.
Days I’ve been here: 113.
Feels crazy when I spell it out like that — usually it takes the form of a much smaller, more inexact number, like “a few months”, or “earlier in 2017”. But when I think about my time here in the context of individual days, it makes me consider how a seemingly short while can be broken down into near infinite derivative moments, and it reminds me how critical it is to be mindful of the flow of those moments (even if many of them slip through my fingers).
Cities other than Berlin that I’ve visited (or have plans to visit) since moving here: 5. Leipzig, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Killarney, London. I honestly think I expected this number to be a little higher by now — that I’d immediately hit the road without trepidation and recapture the continent I first conquered as a teenager. But I think I failed to account for two things: first, that Berlin in the summer is so much fun that even a single weekend away is enough to induce paralyzing bouts of FOMO; second, that I needed to give myself a moment to take a breath and settle down before venturing beyond Berlin’s borders.
But in the end, this isn’t study abroad. There is no time limit, there is no rush. I’m an expat now; I live here. I’ll make it everywhere I want to see, eventually, in my own time.
Times I’ve seen the sunrise here: At least 10.
And no, not from waking up early. People say New York is the city that never sleeps; that’s a lie. New York just stays up late and eats pizza until it falls asleep. Berlin is the city that seems to forego sleep entirely. One of the great mysteries of living here so far is how frequently this seems to happen - it was so uncommon to stay out in New York past 5am at the latest, on even the lengthiest of nights. Here, I seem to blink and it’s 7am and broad daylight. How am I not absolutely exhausted? Especially on Friday nights, when I’ve been up for nearly 24 hours (or more)?
And I know I’m not alone here, it’s not just me — a lot of my expat friends have remarked on this sunrise phenomenon. Must be something in the beer.
Money I’ve earned from recycling: €3.47.
Hell yeah. That’s worth 7 beers at the right supermarket. Recycling here is more than a moral high ground, it’s economically incentivized. The idea is genius: similar to the “deposit” system in some US states, but the bottles are worth far more. It’s even become a way for the city’s homeless to feed themselves — by collecting bottles (sometimes conveniently left on specialized trays on top of outdoor trash bins) and ridding the city of needless waste, anyone can redeem a receipt for a hot meal’s worth of straight cash.
Books I've read: 2.
“Kafka on the Shore” by Haruki Murakami and “The Broom of the System” by David Foster Wallace. Both great. “Purity” by Jonathan Franzen is probably next.
Number of times I’ve been rejected from entering a club for reasons unknown: Also at least 10
(Somewhat of a paradox with the above sunrise number…) This is a thing that happens here. You’ll be getting all geared up for a night out with your friends. Discussions of where to go, what to wear, how to act, how much to drink beforehand, who’s playing, whose name to say at the door, how many guestlist spots the aforementioned name is worth, and so on.
And then, in a split-second, your best laid plans are laid to waste. “Leider nicht."
Maybe the bouncer didn’t like how you were looking at him. Maybe he didn’t care for your hat. You were supposed to wear it backwards, not forwards. (Or forwards, not backwards.) Or maybe it was your shirt. You were supposed to wear mostly black, but not all black. Or all white. Or carry a wizard staff. You were supposed to be in a group of people whose size represented a number in the Fibonacci series. You were supposed to be alone.
Rejection can be maddening, mostly because it's so inscrutable and seemingly superficial. (Okay, it is superficial.) That’s the whole point. Exclusivity looks great on everyone else, and envy doesn’t look so good on you, my friend.
Number of errands I haven't been able to run on a Sunday: all of them.
Everything's closed, for it is the Lord’s day. But the German Lord is a merciful one, and smiles upon those who choose the path of righteousness. Or at least the path that heads to the local biergarten.
Number of first dates I’ve been on: 2.
With the same girl. And no, this isn’t some “50 First Dates” nonsense. I just happened to get lucky enough to meet someone incredible over here. I had to chase her, but she finally let me date her. And when at long last she did, I thought it’d be only fitting to take her out on a proper date, just like we were meeting for the first time. So we went on a first date; not once, but twice. I’m a lucky guy.
Times I’ve regretted moving to Germany: Zero.
There have been days here when nothing seemed to make sense or go right.
When I asked myself why I’d left everything I knew behind in NYC in search of something different, when I was really quite happy with what I had.
(Nice apartment, stable job, amazing city, all my friends.)
But I still believe now what I believed then, 113 days ago: you only get to be young once.
You read your own book from left to right, and there’s no turning back the pages. It's the only one you’ll turn over and over, in your hands and in your head, when you get to the end.
And I’m enjoying this book so far. It's not the easiest read, but I can’t put it down.
I think I’ll keep reading.