halten sie tun, Berlin

This post was typed under a blanket of 2 beers I finished off on July 4th. That's a record high for my drinking as of late, which proves I am in fact not made for the consumption of alcohol the way Germans are. Regardless of the tipsy state this was written in, I'm publishing it because even on my second night in Berlin, it remains true. 

I'm so in love with my time here. Maybe Berlin is rough to look at in parts, but so is every city. Maybe there are areas that smell like marijuana, but, there again, Berlin isn't alone in that. It's not easily walked and people take the bicycle lane too seriously. It's not perfect. It's not my favourite city or a place I even thought I'd ever stop back in, but I'm so glad I have returned. 

My time here has already made me never want to leave. 

I hadn't seen Bastian {pronounced like Sebastian, without the 'se'} in nearly 10 years. Yet, as he finished work and met me at Alexander Platz, I was embraced by my massive German brother hugging me as though no time had passed. We both look older, better we like to believe, than we did a decade ago. It was so surreal. 

He took me and my carry-on to his car, where we loaded up and drove to the Pankow area of the city where he lives in a perfect little flat just 4 minutes away from his mother and step-father. I unloaded my things and we walked to see his sister, Alina, and his parents, who have graciously decided to host a student from Harvard on a month-long German language exchange. Bastian told me all about how this trombone-playing kid from Texas who studies "The Classics" at Harvard speaks impeccable German.

Upon arrival, I am greeted with a massive hug from Basti's mom, told I'm too skinny, and force-fed a bowl of pistachios with a beer to wash it down. I got a kiss on the cheek and a hug from Roman, Basti's step-father, who is the epitome of the laid-back dad with hilarious dry humour every kid wants. Then I saw Alina on the deck, gorgeous as ever with that bright and happy face beaming at me. "Oh my gosh, I missed you so much!" She gave me the kind of hug you get from your best friend when you've both spent summers at different camps. Bastian's mom brought me another jacket and a pair of closed-toed shoes because she was afraid I'd get sick in this 70F weather. 

We sat on the deck until nearly midnight. Bastian's mom continued to bring out more and more food for me to eat. Alina told me all about how she's gone vegan and works at Humana, a vintage store in the city centre. The Texan listened as we talked about the year Bastian lived with my family in South Dakota. How we shot a potato gun across our 10-acre plot. How our dog used to cling to him, so he'd swoop her up in one hand and stuff her under our couch. Drive-in movies in the bed of my dad's pick-up, Homecoming, blizzards...we laughed for hours. I filled Bastian in on who is married and how many children everyone we know has now. 

I'm among friends in London. We have people all over that tiny little island known as the U.K. I've been treated so well by Chelsey and had an incredible night with the WEP volunteers. I'm happy there. 

But Berlin is different.

Being in Berlin with the Langs is something magical. It's family. The candles on the table eventually melted down to their wicks and both Alina and Bastian had work the next day. So, Bastian and I walked back and made my bed. I slept a full night for the first time since being back overseas. I woke up to sunshine and felt that warming "home" feeling set in. 

I guess this post is just a quick 'hi, I'm alive' for my mother and a quick 'I hope everyone is as in love with life as I have felt in love with my time in Berlin' to you all. 

Keep doing you, Berlin.