A Letter to Berlin

En Route to Doha QR082

16:34, Tegel Airport, Berlin

After another round of travel anxiety (which has been frequent for the past few months), I’m finally sitting down and breathing better, and on my first flight home.

Dearest Berlin,

What an unforgettable summer it has been.

I’ve spent my summers always in Manila. In my younger years, they served as avenues for things I have developed interests in—art, music, books, the usual. In the late afternoons we’d go and play outside with our neighbors, doing relays of running, biking, and riding the scooter.

In college I stopped playing outside (obviously). I was glued to my computer as I started blogging, working, seeing more of what else I can do.

Of course in recent years I have been working all summer. It is the season where all the book and freelance projects used to be lined up for me—in the midst of the crazy heatwave in the city. I’d take quick beach trips and beat deadlines but overall it was too toxic for me.

That’s why I decided to see you. To see if I can spend summer in a city I hardly knew and found no interest in (at first). I have only kept myself in the context of visiting for the sake of attending an art residency program, which I now realize has changed me in ways I could not have imagined.

Back when I landed in Tegel last May, I was this naive young adult hoping to find all the answers in your city. I was that girl who felt like she had to experience more in order to feel alive. But coming from a place where I couldn’t be someone else but who I already was, I found it difficult adjusting. I can’t just change in a snap. I felt the pressure; it was so real I was about to give up.

You’ve seen it all: meltdowns on Monday mornings. Adjusting to anti-depressants. Discovering new art techniques. Questioning what I wanted out of my life and work. Having an emotional week full of tears that came out of nowhere. Doubting myself every damn time but learning to snap out of that bubble.

You’ve also been fundamental to lessons I picked up, and have eventually found growth in: being brave to stand up for myself, letting go of toxic people, realizing I am worth more than my job. Finding comfort in life-changing conversations from people you’ve just met and instantly felt connections with.

“You’ve lived in one city all your life?,” an acquaintance told me. Apparently, I have. And I accept that—because cities like you have shown me that I can be somewhere else and find home in it. And that’s a comforting thought.

“You’re 26, you’ve got to live your life!,” an ex-friend told me. She was right; I’ve got to live my life. (I’ve written this on a previous post but now the way I see it is different.) But I look back and ask myself, I think I’ve lived quite a life? In the career department, sure. And it’s because that’s what I’ve decided to focus on, and I realize I’m fine with that.

So for everything else apart from work, it was all that I found in this short time I was here. And that’s why I’m so grateful in many ways I could never repay you for.

I’ve learned so much in a summer. It’s quite unbelievable that this adventure turned out so much better than I expected—wait, I didn’t have any expectations, and that was what made it great. 

Danke schön, and I’ll see you again in the fall. And maybe in the spring, once I sort everything out.



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