It’s never right to compare two cities to each other. It’s tacky. It feels like comparing an ex-boyfriend to a new one; without a doubt the comparisons are subject to a rose glaze and some bitter rhetoric about the one that comes second place. And so, on the subject of Sevilla versus Berlin I find I keep having to stop myself.
Even so, I can’t help but pay compliments to my new home. It’s not that it’s better, it’s just that it’s more me.
It’s hard to explain, I swing out my phone, true to my millennial title, and try to snap the warmth Berlin brings me. I capture grey skies, wet brown mud lying unremarkably alongside the river and water droplets on my camera from the rain. It truly is uninspiring. I doubt it’s far from what the end of the world looks like. I wonder if I am going mad because as I watch my phone screen and switch to the view before my eyes, it feels so different–although, it could just be poor camera quality of my two-year-old iPhone.
So many characters intrigue me. Long coats, slick hats, they strut past me, and if not too deep in thought, they offer me a smile. I am just happy to be among them. And I imagine their stories, which although completely fabricated are probably not so far from the truth.
Berlin is an arty city, and so a set of furrowed brows and a bleak stare into the distance on a bus could be the face of a poet preparing to unpack his pain onto a page. Or this woman who approaches me now, who has a glint in her eye and a slight wind beneath her boots, has she just gotten a new studio to develop her photography? We exchange short but genuine smiles and I think I catch a smidge of her good mood.
I’ve grown into this. I wear their uniform and look at me now, pouring my thoughts into this laptop. I live among my fellow writers, and though I do not yet know them, I know they are but a handful of conversations away, it’s comforting. Like sitting in a room with someone who loves you. Perhaps you are not even conversing with each other but there is nowhere you’d rather be, plus you feel safe, and they know just how you like your coffee.
How can I justify these grey streets? How is it not depressing to walk through these scenes stripped of colour? I think about this often.
I know why I feel alive while popping into a local supermarket, or on my way to meeting a new friend in the city. It is the bars, the restaurants, the cafes, the homes with their blinds open, all radiating this warm glow. Behind those glass walls I see these individuals come alive. They are leaning in listening to each other, laughing with their eyes, just the right amount of tipsy to completely remember the whole thing, and then of course are the pensive lonelier types, and they could be me, probably new to the city, writing a book or reflecting on a tragic deed by a lover.
I see this every time I look inside the buildings that light up Berlin at night. To me, it is life lived properly. Where you recognise your own pain in cold dark streets, but know there is love waiting in an abundance of bars. All of this is graciously but fiercely packed into these electric boxes that power their energy to Berlin.
This is an energy loved by many a visitor.
An energy that has captured my heart somehow in a manner not un-similar to a whirlwind romance.
But, perhaps I’m projecting. I have done it many a time before but mainly in the form of relationships. It is the honeymoon period and so, I will have to check back in at a later date. Once the dust has settled and the winter gets deeper, we can reassess the status of this city-love affair. Speak then.