Letter to Myself

Dear Me,

Hi – it’s… well, it’s you. I am you, the amazing you you want to be. I know right now is so hard. You keep questioning everything. Who you are, where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there.

I know you miss him. I know you felt connected to him and are trying your best to hang on to that connection, even when two continents and an ocean lie between you. I know how you have guilt for feeling so deeply, for letting your guard down, getting your hopes up, while you never really knew what he felt for you.

I know you miss California and that this is a pain, an actual pain that you mask or suppress but never shake. I know you cringe inside every time you scroll through your Instagram feed and see pictures of your friends at a beach you used to hang out at. That a tiny picture of the Golden Gate Bridge in a board magazine can suck the life out of you. That you close your eyes whenever the plane touches down in London, Manchester, Glasgow or wherever your business travels take you these days, secretly hoping that you will miraculously see palm trees and sunshine when you look outside.

I know that, when you go to sleep at night, you’ll cry…uncontrollably some nights…softly others. You’ll toss and turn. And you’ll dream about it all– some will be dreams that will wake you up sad. Others will be nightmares and you’ll actually wake up happy, realizing what you’re dealing with now is better than what you dealt with in your sleep.

But, instead of letting those memories suffocate you, let them help you remember who you are and who you want to be. You will be that person again. You are (and will be) so kind, loving, open, fun and free. Right now I know it doesn’t seem possible and that’s okay. But trust that those pieces will come together again. It may take the time it takes to complete a 5.000 piece puzzle, but they will start to create an image you can visualize and it will all make sense again.

Until that day comes, however, try and be the best you can be every day. Do your favorite things. Find more good in your days than bad. When you’re back at base – and true to yourself – you’ll be extremely surprised at the great things that will happen to you…and the great people you’ll meet.

I know it’s hard to truly feel like you will get there. Be patient, love yourself, trust yourself, forgive yourself, be kind to yourself. Your time will come, and it’s so soon. Prepare yourself mentally, emotionally, physically. Be everything you picture yourself to be. It will manifest and it will be amazing.

Be the light you are. Share the gift you have been given and watch what unfolds. It’s worth it. And so are you.

Love,

You

 

Trust that everything will be okay.

There will, inevitably, be times when life will throw us curve balls before we’re ready to hit them.

There will be times where we feel so happy – or comfortably content- with our lives that we wouldn’t want to change a thing. But life wouldn’t be life if it didn’t throw you that curve ball every once in a while and suddenly everything needs to change. Perhaps the most challenging time of all will be the chasm that exists between these chapters in your life. When we have to walk away before we’re ready. When we have to leave what we want and what we love in the past.

Up till this point, I had always been ready for the next chapter. I could always acknowledge the memories made but would look forward to making more, different memories in the future. I had never been in a situation like this before, where I need to walk away from what I love before I’m ready to. Every fibre of my being understood that my visa will expire in September and there is nothing I could do about it. Every rational part of me knew that my situation wasn’t even all that bad: The company I enjoy working for wants to keep me employed and relocate me to Europe once my visa expires. And, since they don’t have an office established there, I could move anywhere in Western Europe as long as I have a working phone and internet connection. And yet, I’ve been spending the last 4 months either ignoring all that or trying to find a miraculous loophole or shortcut that would allow me to have it all. I wanted to linger.

But lately, I have been trying my best to return to my old self. The self that is adventurous and positive and happy no matter the place or the situation. In moments of transitions, you have to believe that there are so, so many better things coming than any of the things we have left in the past. You have to have faith in the future, in the unknown, in the tomorrows and somedays that will line up in ways you can’t possibly imagine from where you’re standing now. You have to have faith in yourself – faith that you will get yourself to where you want to go, even if you’re not entirely certain where that is yet. Faith in your future self to figure out if she wants to move to Berlin or London or Lisbon or Paris or Amsterdam or…

Yes, California has made me indescribably happy and I will leave a big piece of my heart in San Francisco. But before moving to this city, before making it home and becoming this incredibly happy here, all I had wanted was to stay in my protected bubble of friends and family, rainy German days and not push myself out of my comfort zone. I guess I sometimes forget that, just because the scene in the rear view mirror looks nicer than the scene on the road ahead, doesn’t mean you’ll never reach another beautiful destination.

It’s rare and it’s wonderful to ever find a place or a person or a certain situation that makes you want to linger for longer. When happiness hits us, we all want to cling to it as tightly and as mercilessly as possible. We want to capture it and hold it between our palms forever – not realizing that we have to let it go for it to mean anything at all.

I thing that, when we have to leave the things we love behind, we are allowed to mourn them. To miss them. To look back on them dejectedly and sadly. But we must never, ever forget that the best days of our lives are not all behind us. That there are more wonderful things awaiting us in the future than we could ever even fathom. That so many of our happiest days are still ahead. And that we have to keep moving to get there – no matter how tempting that view in that rear view mirror is. And in order to get there, we have to blindly and blissfully trust that it’s going to be somewhere indescribably worth going.

Going home from another home

They say when you move abroad you are either running from or running to something. In my case, moving to San Francisco meant I was sprinting towards the life that I thought I should have had all along and I couldn’t wait to prove myself in this new world that I had chosen for myself. And life has been treating me well, better than I had hoped it would and better than I sometimes felt I deserved.  Now, I will be going home for Christmas. By the time my plane touches down in Hamburg, Germany, by the time I grab my luggage and fall into the arms of my (probably bawling) mother, I will have been gone an accumulated total of 483 days. And my God, am I ridiculously excited to go back. I have been watching Love Actually on repeat because both the first and the final scene remind me of how I will feel at the airport. I have been humming Christmas songs in my head since my boss approved my vacation request two months ago. I have moments of jumping up and down in my room when I’m alone, because that’s just how excited I am to see my parents, my brothers and my closest friends, to sleep in my old room, to eat my parents’ home-cooked meals, to wander across Christmas Markets and tour the cities I love.

CHRISTMAS EXODUS GETS UNDERWAY AT HEATHROW HEATHROW READIES FOR

And then there is a growing worry. Because, by going back, it might just hit me how long exactly I had been gone. I mean, of course there are the obvious measurements of time. I was 21 when I left and 23 when I come home. I missed my brother’s High School graduation and my other brother’s Confirmation. They missed my grad school commencement. I missed my brother moving out and I couldn’t visit him in the hospital on any of the multiple occasions he was brought in with an epileptic attack. They couldn’t help me when I lost my wallet with all my cards in it or when I hurt my foot so badly in the Grand Canyon that I couldn’t walk for two weeks. And while we were there for each other through phone and Internet, I’ve come to learn that distance is a good buffer. It is a hella good painkiller, too. And you grow comfortable being away.

Because, eventually, the distance gets easier to manage. No, I take that back. The distance is something we start to accept as the inevitable, as something we opted in on when we chose to live the life we want. The time zones and phone calls and missing one another are things to which we can adjust and be okay with, which we sometimes complain about but, at the end of the day, look past it.

So, I have become comfortable with being that one family member living at the other end of the world. Because, without this level of detachment, I would constantly feel bad for choosing here over there. For deciding that my hometown is simply too small for all the dreams I have in my head. For not following in my parents footsteps. At. All. Being the “gone one” has started to feel like not such a bad price to pay. But now that my flights are booked, it keeps hitting me exactly how much I’ve been missing all these people that have known me for more than just 483 days and I want to go back to what I’m used to and give them what they expect to get. Pre-San Francisco Me.

But how do we come home to a place that must inevitably have changed while we were gone? Going home from another home is a weird feeling, because people expect you to be the person you were when you left, and that’s impossible. And, vice versa, you expect things to be exactly the same as when you left, and that’s impossible, too.

“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be” (The Perks of Being a Wallflower). Most of all though, I just really want Christmas to come!

Cheers,

Ari

Everyone Else’s Story

The following are aimless philosophical ramblings. No actual point is being made.

That being said: do you ever wonder about everyone else’s story?

I’m writing this on a semi-crowded train taking me from a Bavarian town straight to my new home in the North of Germany. Six and a half hours between the place where I taught a seminar and the place I will call home, forty square meters in beautiful Hamburg, shared with the man I love and (for the time being) quite a lot of cardboard boxes.

I’m twenty-four and I’m in love – with this guy, with a city I’ve only ever visited for weekends, with the steady movement of the train and with this moment in my life.

I can’t help but wonder: what’s everyone else’s story? If you could measure the emotion in this train car, what would you find? At first glance, most of the people surrounding me look bored. But would boredom really be the prevailing feeling you’d find? I doubt it. I’m sure I look bored to those around me, sitting cross-legged in a reclined window seat, typing away on my laptop. Maybe I am a little, intermittently. But much more than that, I am excited, ecstatic, happy, nervous, joyful and a little baffled at how amazing this sequence of events has been.

passengers on train by OTFO on Flickr

passengers on a train (by OFTO on Flickr)

So what about the guy across the aisle with the band-aid on this right thumb, swiping backwards, forwards, up and down on his cell phone? He’s dressed casually, has a small suitcase with him, slight frown on his face. Looks like he’s reading something – sometimes he’ll use two fingers to zoom in on the screen. He looks bored, too. But what if he’s just distracting himself? It’s a Monday evening, so maybe he’s heading home from a long weekend that he spent in the city his long-distance girlfriend lives in. Or boyfriend, actually, maybe. No, probably girlfriend. In that case, would he be a bit sad, maybe, to have to leave? They might have had a fight and he’s somewhere between relief and frustration. They might have gotten engaged, and he’s still trying to process the fact that she said yes. It might have been a Monday work trip, though, too. He might just be tired. Nothing much may be happening in his life right now – or everything.

I won’t know – and I won’t know what brought that couple sharing a newspaper, or the woman with the bright yellow book, on this particular train. Neither will they ever know just how excited I am. That I’m moving, right now, and for the first time in years, moving somewhere I plan on staying indefinitely. I don’t know if they’d care, either. I’d find it interesting, right now, to know what they’re up to – but it wouldn’t touch my life beyond tonight, so in the end, it will not matter to me.

And still, sitting here and letting my eyes wander around the train car, I can’t help but marvel at the unknown stories, the biographies, the tragedies and comedies around me that I will never know. The stories behind these random faces. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to wrap my head around just how MUCH is going on in a single train car, let alone the whole world, at any given point in time. Isn’t that just the most amazing thing to think about?

Our Blog is Growing Up!

If you’ve been following us for a while, you might have very recently noticed that we gave the blog a complete makeover… we think it looks so much more grown up and professional now, and it’s much more “us”. So don’t be confused, you came to the right place – but we’re growing up, and so is our blog. After all, it’ll turn one and a half in October!

🙂

Long Distance

So here we are, and the blog title applies once again… Ari and I are no longer “real” roommates.

I mean, we’re no longer any kind of roommates , at least not officially. But I’m telling you, living with your best friend for two years (and NOT killing each other) creates a bond for life. At least that what it feels like to me. I can’t imagine my life without my roommate, and that’s still true even when we’re on different continents.

Also, it’s not like we’re strangers to long distance. We’ve been long distance roommates before (hence the blog), and we’ve also been in other kinds of long distance relationships before. In fact my boyfriend of now almost a year (wow) lives on a different continent as well. Conveniently, it’s the same one Ari will be moving to… and there are plans that I might move there as well in the not so distant future. So while we’d still be in different countries, at least we might end up on the same continent again.

This, then, is really the essence of what I take away from college: The bonds we forged, the ones that I hope will last a lifetime.

The people I love will be all over the world, in fact, they already are. Some of my best friends are currently in the U.S., in Venezuela, Germany, Australia, the U.K., Chile, Finland, Norway, Kenya… honestly, you name the country, chances are I’ll know someone either from there or currently living there. Some of them I don’t see every year or even every other year. Some I haven’t seen in years, some I might not see until our 10-year-reunion. And yet, I don’t think it’ll matter too much. We have Skype, Facebook, Whatsapp, heck, even Pinterest to share those things that made us think of each other. The fact that we have Internet means we’re never really very far away from each other (except those moments when you really want to give the other person a hug).

So what’s next?

For me, it’s a six-month internship starting in August, and then… dare I say it… I might make my next move after that dependent on my boyfriend… because a year and a half of long distance is really quite enough. So one of us will be moving. Holy shit. That’s how serious we’ve become. I mean don’t get me wrong, it’s the most amazing thing that ever happened to me, but… sometimes I get really freaked out.

For Ari… well if you’ve been following, you know about San Francisco. If not, GO BACK AND READ, seriously. And she’ll keep you posted of course. We plan on continuing this blog not just as a means to stay in touch but I guess also to sort out our “post college confusions”  – credits for the quote to Tabi, thanks 😉

So stick around… we can only get more confused (and therefore entertaining) from here on out… real life is waiting. (Yay?)

Pride and Prejudice…

“So this is your opinion of me. Thank you for explaining so fully. Perhaps these offences might have been overlooked had not your pride been hurt by my honesty… “
” My pride?” 
“…in admitting scruples about our relationship. Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your circumstances?” 
“And those are the words of a gentleman. From the first moment I met you, your arrogance and conceit, your selfish disdain for the feelings of others made me realize that you were the last man in the world I could ever be prevailed upon to marry”- Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, 1813

I don’t know if any of you have read that book or watched one of the countless movie versions? Personally, I have always believed that this story might be quite cute and adorable and Austen-style revolutionary for her time but so full of cliché-cheesiness that I never actually believed in that kind of stuff. But over the last few weeks the long-hoped-for “up” followed the down-period that I was facing a little while ago.

Life on campus is always fast-paced. Things come with a big BAM and before you know what you are dealing with, it’s gone again. Lately, I was reminded of that again. It took me five days to encounter my very own, personal Pride-and-Prejudice-story. Not only did I get into a situation that I had never dreamed of getting myself into but also did I learn that first judgements are very barely accurate. I dare say that I am a person who is farely good in understanding people fast BUT, and I know I gotta work on that, I also know that once I get a very negative impression of someone I am not bothered trying to discover other sides. Simply because there are so many other people around me that I like from the start, so why would I waste valuable resources trying to tickle some potentially nice sides out of someone ? Well. Sometimes, you should do exactly that. I’m sure you all have had encounters with people that, when you first meet them, completely intimidate you. In Germany, public universities are perfectly sufficient for good education and only the very rich kids are willing to pay extra for a little “(priv)” behind the university’s name. The only reason that I will have one of those is thanks to a mix of luck and maybe a bit of talent. However, since we have this situation in Germany, you associate a certain sort of people with private universities. Equipped with confidence, money and all the latest Apple products, this species of college student works its way up the carrier letter and usually also gets what it wants. It is top-down, arrogant, smart and surrounded by its equals. Hence, its not a group I would ever count myself to….But maybe I was judging to fast? Maybe there is more to people than their first appearance, however stereotypical it might be?  Even if you are sure that this person belongs to a certain category, does this mean that he or she fulfills all characteristics of this category? No, it does not, as I have learned.

Some time ago, I wrote about insecurity. Insecurity in terms of self-doubts regarding academics, looks and social status. I ignore when people compliment me and decide to focus on all the things I still “need” to improve. And this could get me into a loop where, at some point, I will stop believing in myself completely and thus lose every bit of confidence, which then will make people doubt me in return and so on and so forth. I thought that if my family had a bit more money, I wouldn’t have to pressure myself so much fighting for good grades and good scholarships. I thought that if I would lose weight, people would like me more. But what I realized is that self-doubts are not at all bound to a certain category of people, everyone has them. Even the most confident person on earth can hide something underneath a mask of arrogance. Maybe that person next to you in class, who is solving the Rubik’s cube within a minute to show off, could actually become your soulmate, best friend, someone who walks next to you for a part of your life?

We can never be certain what life has to offer us or where it will take us. Situations we would have never thought possible can actually happen and sometimes its exciting to just let go of this crazy urge to want to control everything. Spontaneous decisions can be the ones that lead to the most fun results. And ideally, the result is that you are happy. How you got there and for which reasons, often plays not a very important role anymore. I am happy, thats all I want to say I think. And how I got there is a story I would have never imagined to be true. Let’s just say that I got “austenized”.

Yes, I still miss New York like crazy but I stopped looking into grad schools there, I just can’t afford it. I will do my masters degree in Europe and then…good question. I still look at the pictures from my summer almost every day, sometimes with a happy reminiscing smile and sometimes with tears running down my cheeks because I miss the city so much.  Yes, I am super busy with my studies and my job and some of my friends face their own, personal issues and are occupied with that. Yes, there is a big question mark to life after graduation and I have no idea where I will be in a year from now and, almost more important, with whom I will be there. Maybe with Jessi.Or Judith. Or maybe with someone who is currently walking next to me through this part of my life and whom I would love to include into the next chapter. Or maybe I will go alone, who knows? As a matter of fact, it seems like several big decision are to be made soonish and usually I would freak out about this. However, I succeed in remaining quite calm because my life changed a little. This change came with a big BAM into my life and gives me a lot of confidence into myself, into the world, into the thought that everything will work out if its supposed to. I know, quite cheesy but also really comforting. I can be on my own…but its really nice to have someone be with you…

On this, potentially rather confusing, note:

Cheers guys!

Thoughts on Living for the Moment

About time I posted something new, I think… you may have realized by now that my summer is not quite as exciting as my roommate’s. It’s been mostly working, and then enjoying my free weekends, and then working again. But of course, stuff always happens when we least expect it, so I’ve had quite a few reasons recently to contemplate the concept of “living for the moment”.

Being the literature geek that I am, I always look for quotes to help me express what I think. So I went and looked up what famous and semi-famous people had to say, and this is what I found:

“Nothing is worth more than this day.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“We steal if we touch tomorrow. It is God’s.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

“We are here and it is now. Further than that all human knowledge is moonshine.” ~ H. L. Mencken

“Nothing ever gets anywhere.  The earth keeps turning round and gets nowhere.  The moment is the only thing that counts.”  ~ Jean Cocteau

I could go on for a bit, but I think you get the idea. It goes hand in hand with the realization that change is the only constant thing in life… I heard this several times before but I always found it a difficult idea. What do you mean, nothing is constant? Don’t I get to have friends, family, people that are always going to be there, no matter what? Can’t I settle down at some point and have my life be at least sort of constant? But the thing is, even if I have a constant relationship, say, with a friend or a sibling, that relationship continues to evolve, to change, to be renewed, and both parties have to be there and keep making an effort to keep the relationship alive, to keep it meaningful. So everything always changes, even what appears to be constant. And most things in my life don’t even appear to be constant at the moment… besides my friends and my family, my life is rapidly changing, and it will keep changing for a while. Some of that was expected… some was not.

The part that was so unexpected, the part that makes me think about these things is a very personal story, but suffice it to say I have been given an opportunity to practice the art of living for the moment in the last few weeks… and got to thinking that it’s really the first time in my life that I have embraced this concept fully. I tend to overthink things. I have a difficult time letting go of the past, and a difficult time not worrying about the future. I am not saying I’ve suddenly become an expert at those things. They are still difficult for me. But I feel that in the last few months, and especially the last weeks, I’ve made some important steps. Right now I am enjoying my summer in full consciousness that everything will change drastically very soon. A month from now I’ll be on the other end of Germany, two months from now I will be in Nairobi. But right now, I am where I am, and I am living these days with the consciousness that they are a gift, that I should be thankful for every single one of them.

And when the summer is over, I will cherish these memories for the rest of my life, but I won’t live in them… I will move to the next chapter of my life and I’ll be so much richer, because I’ll have all these memories and experiences. Someone once said to me to live as if “the mug is already broken”… I can’t exactly recall the context of that conversation but it was about how you shouldn’t save something like a beautiful mug for a special occasion and then end up just never using it because you’re scared it could break. Instead act as if it were already broken… then every moment you have it and still get to use it is a gift, a bonus, something more than you needed or expected.

With that in mind, I’m going to go make tea now, and I’m going to drink it from my favorite mug…  which is special, of course, because Ariane brought it for me from London… but as I just said… that doesn’t mean it should just sit on a shelf and never be used. (Although, honestly, I do really hope that it doesn’t break because no matter how Zen I am feeling at the moment, that would be really sad.)

I hope this wasn’t too philosophical, by the way, but well… this is how I’ve been spending my summer. You asked.
(Actually, okay, you didn’t, but Ariane asked. So there you go. Comments, philosophical or otherwise, can be left on the blog or, for those of you who actually know me, also on facebook of course.)