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one year later
swing
amw
Kassel was different this time. A year ago, after almost completely breaking down at work, i made a spontaneous trip to Germany to go to the 5-year anniversary party of a music blog that i loved. It was an amazing break from the hum-drum Canadian scene and an experience that reminded me how at home i felt in Europe.

Now i have been living in Europe almost 9 months, and it's not just my childhood home any more, but also my current home. I live in the world capital of electronic music and have completely adapted to the Berlin culture. And after Berlin, the rest of Europe just doesn't measure up.

Point one, it's a night-time party. I go out so rarely at night now that it just feels bizarre to me that someone would go through a whole day of work, travel 3 hours on the train, then still go out for another 8 hours dancing. It felt so normal when i was a teenager, or when i lived in Australia, but now... Man, i just want to sleep so i can party with a clear head.

Point two, the crowd. The kids dance like there's no tomorrow, all Melbourne shuffle and techno viking. And who can blame them? In these small towns there is no tomorrow. Once this party ends, that's it for a few weeks. Meanwhile i stumble in at 1am doing the Berlin-style Legend of the Drunken Master bottle-hop. Of course that lazy style kept me going till 9am without any uppers (less an hour-long nap on one of the coveted couch spots).

I realized the other week that Berlin clubs are more like clubs in the traditional sense. A bunch of people with a common interest come together to spend quality time. Yes, there is dancing and music, but there are also couches and gardens and food and games and places to crash. Nowhere else in Germany has that feeling. Although the clubs here do feel a lot more laissez-faire than the rest of the world, Berlin is a whole nother level. And i got so accustomed to it so fast, it was a bit of a shock yesterday. If i wanted a coffee or a snack i would have to leave. I couldn't smoke wherever i liked. There was visible security patrolling the joint. And no tree huts or nooks and crannies to hide away in.

But... some of the local DJs recognized me from last time, and i got a slice of birthday cake. And Chris+Mira were great, as usual. And i did have fun, albeit a different kind of fun.

I slept through most of yesterday with a solid hangover. And today jumped on a train to Erfurt because i don't want to go back to Berlin so fast. I might stay the night in Erfurt, or perhaps i'll take another train on to Leipzig, or wherever. The weather is shitty, i've run out the data plan on my phone, i don't have a change of clothes, but at least i have the money not to balk at a 40€ train ride to nowhere and a 50€ hotel once i'm there.

* * *

Erfurt is a cute town. Nice Altstadt and some nice churches and graffiti. It's the biggest town in Thüringen, and the place to be for the kids of the area. I know this because H is from a village in Thüringen. I WhatsApped her the other day to ask what might be fun to sightsee if i decided not to come straight home. An hour or two ago i was in a train station waiting for a transfer and sent her a photo. No text, no expectations, just the standard sort of photo i take on my phone and send to my friends when i'm out and about. I thought it'd remind her of home. But a few minutes later i get this whole spiel about how i keep sending her random photos with no explanation and i never answer her texts and it seems like i don't want to talk to her at work and bla bla.

And this is genau why i don't want any friends. I've been all torn up since i got the message. What the fuck does she want from me??? When i am at work, i am fucking WORKING. I don't watch YouTube, i don't read Facebook, i don't send Skypes, i'm at work. I take my job very fucking seriously, and it is not a place for me to socialize. And outside of work... I don't want to have 2 hour dialogs via text message. If i see you out then we can chat about anything - i will be completely open and am happy when you do the same. And if we're not together i will send drunken texts or fun photos i think might make you smile. But i will not go out when i'm feeling tired, or cancel my plans to have dinner at your house, or what fucking ever. I love my friends and will always look out for them, but never again will i put them ahead of me.

I think it's partly a German thing. People here are quite distant, but when they make friends, they take it seriously. When they ask how it's going, they really want to know. When they say "have a nice day", they are honestly wishing you a great day. Europe is on the whole much less friendly than Australia or North America, but when they are friendly, it's never just a throwaway platitude like it is over there.

That's a good thing. It's not that i want superficial friendships. On the contrary, i hate talking bullshit just to fill the silence. But i also don't want any obligations. That's why my marriage failed. Friends are supposed to be better than that. I don't want to meet your family. I don't want to go to a dinner party, or a birthday, or a wedding, or a housewarming, or whatever. I'll be there when you need to vent, i'll bail you out when you're broke, i'll hold your hair when you puke, but that's real shit. Family and houses and enforced fun is not real shit, i'm sorry.

I guess i'm just a cunt.

* * *

I'm feeling better. I left Erfurt, which was nice, but also a massive tourist trap. I randomly took a train out to the country and ended up in a town called Jena. It's a funny little place. Checked into a local hotel, a proper German place with DDR corridors and Goldbären on the pillow and hardwood floors and a single bed. Turns out this place is a student town, and i'm feeling relaxed. Who knew i'd miss the tattoos and dreadlocks of my neighborhood?

I stopped into a bar called Cheers. Not just Cheers (logo and all) but "American Sports Bar & Grill". They have a motherfucking quesadilla burger. Yes, a burger with a quesadilla instead of a bun. "Just like they cook it in Texas, only better!" Awesome. I ordered something with pineapple and bacon. Pineapple makes me happy. People don't. People are great, till you get to know them. Food, on the other hand, makes no demands. My best friends come in beer glasses and burger buns.


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You're making Berlin sound awfully appealing. It's very hard to balance a 9 to 5 job with a social life unless you take copious amounts of uppers.

And I miss coffee houses that were actually conducive to conversation. They were so comfortable. The one I used to go to changed owners and got rid of most of their couches. Not good.

Couches are critical. All the more so because i still do not have one at home.

Berlin is a really well put-together city for "hanging out". There are a lot of small parks if you want to have a picnic, there are corner bakeries and delis that always have a few tables and chairs. Plus many restaurants, cafés, bars and clubs that are cozy and comfortable and never really feel overcrowded. I'm not sure how the city stays in business. I guess it's that lowest incomes in the country thing. I feel like most cities should be like this, and perhaps they are if you count Tim Hortons and Starbucks and McDonalds as places for "hanging out". But they certainly aren't environments that are conducive to conversation. And it sucks to feel "hurried along" by waitstaff, which is something i very much do not miss from North America.

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