Thursday, September 23, 2010

Leaving Berlin...

August 30: Last Day in Berlin

Woke up and started packing.

The whole day went fast and it fluctuated between efficiently packing at times, and stalling at other times because we were sad about leaving.

We kept on packing until slowly the areas were getting empty, the closets, the drawers, the room, the kitchen, the bathroom... Everything was packed in the bags and ready to leave, except for us.

At night, we had a little gathering in a German restaurant (we had to leave the right way, and end it with a real German meal). Sven, Andi, Tino, David, Bram, Claudia, and Felix, all joined us to say goodbye. But no, it was not a "goodbye", we couldnt just call it that, it was a "hopefully see you real soon" dinner.

Beer Tower. 3 m long. Chugs! And yet another 3 m. More Chugs! A 1 meter right after. More, and More Chugs! Good Food. Beautiful people. A Speech for our incredible blond girl (Dania..just in case!). Hugs, endless hugs, and then we left. We got on the train, the last train we took all four of us together back to our little apartment, our little white apartment, back to our home.
Tears. Hugs. Ice cream. Coffee. Choco Croissant. Burger? Fries?

Went back home, continued packing. A couple of hours later, the taxi came to take us away.

Everything in the house was back in place as we started to leave, one after the other until it was empty again. Empty and ready to house new people. New people who will have their own memories in that place that has become our home. Empty like the day we first entered with every excitment in the world ready to take on our 2 months. (well not quite the same as the first day we got there, we maybe broke a couple of things like the shower, a lamp which broke itself on me but still, a chair which still looks like it holds but doesnt really, salt shaker...and maybe a couple of more that i might have willingly forgotten about!)

Our home was now ready to be someone else's home. We left, took a last look back at our door, our building, our street, got everything in the taxi and drove away.

We arrived to the airport, and Claudia met us there for a last goodbye.

We got on the plane. And there it was.

1 summer.
1 aparmtent.
2 months.
4 girls.
1 family.
1 city.

We left. We left our city, but we wont be gone for long. We will be back. We will be back together again, one day.

Dania: To Berlin, to every person, every dog, every park, every building, every station, every Ubahn, every street performer, every punk, every S-bahn, every beach chair, every graffiti, every disco ball, every afterhours, every bike, every event, every Turk, every German...I believed in you, I worked hard for you, and you, you were there for me, you surpassed my every expectation, and you became my wonderland. To you Berlin, I miss you.

Rawane: To Berlin, the city that showed me what it felt like to be in love..

Tala: To Berlin, you gave us the freedom we were all looking for.

Zeina: To Berlin, thank you for giving me the meaning of freedom, love, and change in the absolute…

We left you Berlin, but we will never forget you or what you gave us.
This is our goodbye, until we meet again.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

To a new city: Barcelona

To Dania and Tala:

Our two months in Berlin:
We got to know our Berlin.
We created our own space in the city we have grown to love.
The city we have grown to love together.
It introduced us to each other.
It gave us a family in each other.
This was THE summer.
The summer of our lives.
We made of every second an unbelievable moment
We made of everyday a journey to remember
This whole summer was unforgettable.
It exceeded all our expectations
It changed us in so many ways
It changed us in every possible way
It has come to define who we are, what we are, how we are, and what we are to be…
It was comfortable… together
It was beautiful… together
It was magical… together
It was crazy… together
It felt like home… You felt like home
It was home.

You still have one more month.
One more month of experiences, a month of adventures, a month of memories, a month of a life together, a month of the life we have grown to love, a month of the family we have perfected together…

Use it. Enjoy it. Love it. Live it. Embrace it. Discover more of it. Give it and take from it.

Live it the only way you know how to…
We know you will… Make the city yours.

Thank you for everything.
Thank you for how you are, and how we have grown together.

We left, took a part of you with us, and left pieces of hearts with you.
The memory of you, the memory of what we have will always be engraved in us.

We miss you.
We wish you a great time for the rest of your stay.

We love you.
With all that we are.

Ro. Zee.

Three points

Friday, September 3, 2010

Thank you.

On August 25th, I got up to go to work as usual. It was my last week at Viral Lab, our last week in Berlin and we were in “take advantage of every second” mode. That morning, we all wake up, Zeina, Rawane, Tala and I and for the first time, decided to take our time, be late to work and have a nice breakfast together.

It was a very pleasant breakfast where we laughed so much. It was one of those days that just started so great, they couldn't possibly get any better.

Late to work, but still taking my time, I walked my regular route to the U-bahn station, the route that I have memorized and learned to walk blindly, the route that I learned to love with beautiful music blasting in my headphones. I looked like a true Berliner. Anyone could ask me for directions and I would answer him saying the names of the streets with the perfect German accent. I got out on a station, changed lines, and kept going, enjoying people watching because people in Berlin are just so goddamn interesting with the music in my ears playing the soundtrack of that morning. I got out on my station and walked, or practically even skipped to the office. I reached, got up the familiar stairs, and walked in as I removed my headphones and snapping back to the much quieter reality (Berlin is, weirdly enough, an extremely quiet city during the day). I said hi to Sven and Andi, my two bosses, and sat on my regular chair.

Sven and Andi looked a bit weird... I thought it was maybe because I was late, although they're usually pretty cool about this kind of stuff. Sven looked at me and said:

“I have bad news. Sarah died last night”

I couldn't believe it. I kept replaying the sentence in my head a million times. It could not be possible. All I was thinking was that it could not be. Sarah! I had just spent the entire previous day with her at the office. We were the only two at the office, we ordered sushi, we talked, she got the call that she got the apartment she's been waiting for, she was starting university in a month, she told me about her plans, I told her about mine. At the end of the day I said: “Bis Morgen!” (See you tomorrow), and she answered “Bis Morgen!”. She's just 25 years old. She was the nicest person. She always translated everything when everyone at the office started talking German, even if it meant a 20 minute explanation of why a joke is funny. She came with me to the station to talk to the people about the fine I got. She lent me her bicycle and found me the closest burger king because I was sick of eating Turkish and Italian food. She found us a way out of Amsterdam after I sent her a message at midnight. She gave me the beautiful music from her laptop, and had promised to give me more soon. She was sending me a “German song of the day”. She was just, a couple of days earlier, planning a goodbye dinner for me, and searching for a chicken restaurant because she knew I don't eat pork … She was one of the people I met in Berlin... She was my friend.

I couldn't believe it.

I stayed quiet for the longest time, thinking of all of these things in my head and just not believing it. How can something like this happen?

“She has a lung embolism” said Andi.

I remembered that the previous day she complained a couple of times that she was tired, but so did I... It was just a regular day where we were both saying we're tired and wanting to go home...

She slept. She didn't wake up. All her plans, her new apartment, her Master's program, her dreams, just evaporated.

I asked to go home, called the girls and we all met back at home where we lied in bed and they held me. They all knew Sarah without ever knowing her. I talked about her a lot. They felt appreciation for her after she saved us so efficiently and perfectly after we missed the Amsterdam bus.

It hasn't been easy dealing with this. Just when were were so sad to leave Berlin, just when we were saying our goodbyes, to our friends...

I personally feel like it's been a weight on my shoulders. I am now in Barcelona in our new office, listening to Sarah's beautiful music and something doesn't feel right. I felt the need to write something for Sarah.

Thank you Sarah. Thank you for being the nicest person. Thank you for always translating everything when everyone at the office talked in German, even if it meant a 20 minute explanation of why a joke is funny. Thank you for coming with me to the station to talk to the people about the fine I got. Thank you for lending me your bicycle and finding me the closest burger king when I was sick of eating Turkish and Italian food. Thank you for finding us a way out of Amsterdam after I sent you a message at midnight. Thank you for the beautiful music. Thank you for promising to give me more soon. Thank you for the “German song of the day”. Thank you for planning on throwing me a goodbye dinner, and searching for a chicken restaurant because you knew I don't eat pork … Thank you for being one of the people I met in Berlin... Thank you for being my friend.

In memory of Sarah Raith (1986-2010)