A Love Letter to Berlin - Because It's So Depressing
Back in the depths of winter, a friend of mine once told me she was utterly in love with you because you were so depressing.
"Nobody really cares about me," she explained. "Sure, other people will probably help me if I ask them to, but they won't go out of their way. Everyone is on their own and I like it. You can be crazy, dress however you want, and nobody bats an eyelid."
Perhaps it was under the guise of your perpetual grey season, maybe your dreary 3.30pm nightfall had something to do with it, but I really felt she was onto something. As a member of your huge expat community who have left their hometown for the call of something more, you've always presented an interesting blend of acceptance and quiet distance.
Take a cursory glance across major media and it seems like the world is really starting to latch onto "depressing" ideas of loneliness and introversion. From Buzzfeed to TED to Time, the idea of embracing your loner is permeating society. But for you, lovely Berlin, this has always been the default; a haven for creative minds and hearts to let their freak flag fly.
Look at the street art, the techno enthusiasts, the start-ups, the fashion, the sexual freedom, the history. It's all a mosaic of interweaving, delightful chaos. Want to create a start-up? Go for it. New hipster club you want to check out? Knock yourself out. Feel like staying indoors the entire day? Sure thing, no one cares.
It's the fact that no one cares that is really most liberating. In other cities where cultural norms and heteronormative stereotypes dominate, you present a place for people to abandon definition and take on whichever form they choose. While it may have been the fact that people leave her alone that my friend relished so much, it's the knowledge that everyone is together in this similar situation that creates our ongoing fascination with you, buzzy city you are.
What I think she was really getting at was that you have something for everyone. You're the ultimate solace for those trying to find themselves where people will leave them free to do it(beggars, U-bahn buskers and Gorlitzer opportunists aside). But also, for those who want to emerge from their lone (wo)man-cave, you will embrace them with open arms. Afterall, "Du bist verrückt mein Kind, du musst nach Berlin".
A new Berliner