My dear friend Betty is flying into Berlin today for a few days. The minute I said that I was moving to Berlin she started planning a trip in May. It’s May! She has been preparing and planning. If you know Betty, this is right on point for her. She is a planner and she is a 1 on the enneagram if you follow the enneagram. Betty and I were together for close to 8 years and I think it is a testament for how we both navigate relationships that we still consider each other chosen family just in a different way.
Betty sent me a very detailed itinerary for her whole trip a few weeks ago (again, very Betty) and we have been facetiming with details. Betty likes to be well planned. My guess is that she has been packing for weeks whereas I am someone who throws stuff in the bag right before I leave. One of my mottos in life is, “they have stores there,” just in case I forget something. In fact, on a video call the other day I said to her, “Betty, millions of people for thousands of years have managed to live in Europe…if you forget something, there are stores here.”
I have been thinking about what I want to make sure she sees. This happens when a friend will come to visit. My friend Jules was here a month ago and I had mapped out some specific things I thought she would love. When my parents were here we had different things on our to do lists. It depends on the person and what they expect and for how long. But I have also noticed, since my year anniversary of living here is rapidly approaching, my own familiarity of this place changes what I want my people to see. All of a sudden I really want my people to see more of what I see and love in my everyday. Sure the touristy stuff is good and you should see some of those things while in Berlin. Berlin has sooo much and sooo many that it is never enough time here to do even a majority. I haven’t been to a fraction of the museums and I have had the time and effort to give it a try. I still have a long list that seems to get longer the more I do here. Berlin is awesome for that.
It hit me today as I was walking home from the grocery store, it is a different relationship to the place you moved to across the world when you are the authority to your people on it. I know enough of the language to get around, I know how to get around and I have places that can fill days that are fun to see, and I even know of other activities that would be awesome to do like events and things. All of a sudden it hits me again that I am living in this place, not just visiting. I know my grocery store check out person and my neighbors and the café owners down the street and the owners of my favorite spati (convenience store). I know the colloquial ways of saying hello and goodbye and even the minute ways that Germans small talk (notice that its hardly ever and very very very little).
Just another step in this place journey.