And may the future come.
I arrived in Berlin on November, 5th. So it has been a bit more than four weeks by now. And I really don’t know where to start right now.
Maybe with the pre-history. Well, after giving up my art gallerist job on ships and returning to my mum’s home in Croatia, it dawned on me that I was in fact in an ongoing sabbatical year. It started so naturally that I was absolutely not aware of it but it made total sense. And my sabbatical is quite different from those that people plan carefully, those where people already have a vision about how they want to move and learn. Mine started with me leaving Brazil in early July, and being in Berlin now represents the middle.
My cousin offered me some time ago to come to Berlin as an alternative option and while I was not really deeply thinking about it, the idea started to manifest bit by bit after leaving Brazil. In September I was sure that this was what I wanted, since I felt uncomfortable and imprisoned on ships.
A day trip from Warnemunde to Berlin in early September made it possible for me to settle first things. The initial idea was to come somewhen in October or November and stay until the end of the year to figure out whether this place could become a new base.
I had also gotten another invitation to visit my Brazilian friends in Paderno Dugano and relax a bit with them. Therefore I planned a slow trip to arrive at my destination. Maybe a kind of maidentrip, even though by far not as intense as Laura Dekkers experience when crossing the world in a tiny boat at the age of 14. But there was something that had to do with it. A new beginning, the freedom to decide for yourself and learning on the way and somehow learning to grow up a bit maybe. (I still don’t consider myself fully grown-up at the age of 38.)
I met friends in Paderno, Milan, Munich and Nuremberg and then set foot onto the streets of Berlin. Surprisingly, everything went smooth. Here I already knew people whom I had met in different stages of my life. Some from university, different jobs, Brazil. I also have family and it is easy to meet new folks with whom you can connect. It seems to be the place where everybody goes to at some point. A place of re-encounter.
So, right from the start I felt good here but many things were also different or new. Christmas sales were already going on and my eyes in the supermarket were huge when looking at all those tasty chocolates and decorations. You must know that in Brazil Christmas is during summer and that people are not really as crazy about decorating, listening to Christmas songs and all that as we are. There, Christmas is very different.
Also people’s behavior was something very new, different and shocking to me after having lived for seven years in São Paulo. Again, like during my visits, I can see the extreme frustration people throw at each other openly in Europe. This is something I have to get used to again, maybe it was one of the reasons why I never felt like really at home in Germany in the past.
Home. I may not have such a thing right now. There is always my mother and Croatia but that does not feel like home. Berlin sometimes does. It is a big city, there are people, options, opportunities. But also, I may not really be looking for a home right now. Still, I may have found my base.
In my second week I got frustrated for some days. My savings were running out, I could not find ongoing short-term projects to get in and I felt like looking at a huge pile of undoables. Then I realized that I was limiting myself. Half a year ago I had the idea of returning to Brazil in February to settle things there and travel a bit. This idea that it had to be February made it impossible for me to look further. Once I realized that, I simply took out the time limitations from my equation and things started working out bit by bit. I applied for some interesting language projects, found a temporary job to keep myself up for some time (selling chocolates at the Christmas market, yes!!!), finished my soon to be published poetry book (and started working on the next non-fiction novel), and I decided to stay in this city already and therefore started dealing with the annoying bureaucracy of being a citizen of the European Union again. I now feel relieved and smoothly-minded enough to take the right decisions.
The people who invest their time in me now make me feel supported and everything seems easier, because there is always a solution. In fact, there are many and I am learning now and probably also during the second part of my sabbatical to pick wiser.
We shall see!!!