I know right? Fuckin madness.
I’ve been in Berlin since October 2016, and after fourteen months here I feel very much at home, which is, I am swiftly learning, a terrible thing for my everlovin’ soul.
Look: I am young and restless and god I need change or I’ll implode, and so, it is not without hesitation or regret, but aye, I reckon the time has come to flounce away into the wilderness and find a new adventure – just like the big dirty good-for-nothing millennial fuck up I so obviously am. I’ve learned everything that I’m going to learn here, and quite a lot I never wanted to learn (though the latter is invariably more important), and so I must leave. To stay in Berlin another year would be to achieve naught – just a few more parties, more drugs, more strange people, blah blah, the same old same old. Nah.
You see, I have come to realise that I am a blob. I am a jelly. I am a mushy-domed lily-livered nothing-dunce with an infinity of knowledge dancing and laughing outside my head, and my eternal frustration is the fact that in my life so far I’ve managed to scoop not even hardly none of it into my bonce. I want to grow wiser and tougher and smarter and faster and kinder, all at once. I want to see *e*v*e*r*y*t*h*i*n*g* there is, and spending more than a year in one place sounds like a devilish lure; a fast track slipstream to getting old and boring and sitting in the living room watching BBC on a Sunday morning asking myself the most tired question of all, What The Hell Happened? So no, fuck that. I’m gone.
To be honest with you (and I would really hate to lie to you, faceless internet stranger), I booked the flight (one way) months ago, way back in July. However, I had to keep things hushy hushed because of my job. I handed in my notice yesterday, however, so I now am free to spit lyrical about my upcoming adventure as I see fit, boring fat tears from all and sundry.
Here is the plan so far:
Finish work at the end of February and go home to the UK for a week to see family and friends and make my peace in case I die alone and stupid on the road. Fly back to Berlin, party for days unending in Berghain, and wring out every last possible droplet of fun from the city. Say goodbye to the family I’ve built here, cry a bit, maybe a lot, we will see. Fly out on the 1st of March.
Transfer in Oslo, for some fucking reason, then land in New Delhi at 6am on the 2nd of March, which is, coincidentally, Holi, the festival of colour. Which is pretty rad.
I’m going to book a few nights in a hostel in Delhi, and beyond that, I have no plan. I don’t want a plan; I want to meet people and fuck it up and figure it out. My time in Cuba was brutal, sure, and I vowed to never again travel in such an uprepared fashion but… the lessons you learn are worth it.
About 15 different people have said they want to join me on my travels at some point or other – Dave, Annie, Aisling, Liv, Lesley, Jojo, and many more besides – but I don’t really expect anybody will come. A lot of people said the same thing when I moved to Berlin, and it took around 6 months of begging before anybody paid the 50 quid for the 90 minute flight to come and visit me. So the idea that anybody would pay a few hundred to fly across the world seems unlikely, but we will see.
I’m quite excited to exist on a diet of fleeting friendships once more; it’s been a while. I get frustrated with long term friends; I care too much, I try too hard, nobody is ever quite the person I want them to be (my issue, nobody else’s), and as a consequence of this queer manic compound of over-loving and neuroticism, my social life has a frustrating tendency to self-immolate once every few, er… days… to be honest. It’s rather tiring. So yes, brief flashes of love and friendship sound rather nice.
I’ve longed for years to travel India. I want to visit Varanasi, the epicentre of Hinduism; the city where life and death merge in the streets. I want to travel the Golden Triangle, from Delhi to Jaipur, the Pink City, and then to Agra and the Taj Mahal. I want to travel on cross-country train to Mumbai, the city I’ve been picturing ever since I met an old lady named Jill on the bus home from work 2 long years ago, when she told me she travelled to Bombay back in the 60’s. She told me I was bound for adventure, and I believed her then and I believe her now. That 5 minute conversation with a stranger changed my life. She has no idea.
I want to see Bangalore and Lucknow and Goa and every hill and tree and village in between. I want to sail the backwaters of Kerala, and travel by trains and taxis and motorcycles, boats and biplanes and rickety old carts. I want to be terrified and beat down and lost, overwhelmed completely, just so I can build myself back up stronger than before. I want to understand people from every walk of life, I want to make a thousand friends and with them spark ten thousand memories.
By the time March rolls around I should have saved enough money to last me a long, long time. We’re talking 12 months, if I’m sensible (I’m not sensible). I’m aiming for at least 3 months in India, and then, who knows. Maybe home, maybe somewhere else – I can’t predict how I’ll feel after a quarter of a year spent travelling. At some point it’d be nice to settle down for a couple of weeks somewhere, maybe a little apartment or a cosy hostel, just to write with no distractions. I might start a new book. I’m giddy at the prospect.
It takes a lot out of you to carve out a life over the course a year in a foreign city; to really sweat for it, to toil and cry and struggle and starve and wonder what the fuck you’re doing in a city that runs on drugs and sex and Otherness, to wrestle all the pieces into place, reassure yourself you’ve not clicked onto the wrong track and fucked everything up, and then after months and months and the long winter, to finally begin to feel safe, to spend evenings with friends, to walk happy over the morning cobbles to a workplace full of smiling faces and good people who love you – only to smash it all up and tear away into the world… but if you want to live, really live, I reckon that’s what it takes. I don’t know, man. I’m still figuring it all out.
It hurts to walk away from the people – or person – you love, it really does. Especially if that person has been in your life for a long long time. I just hope that the people I’m saying goodbye to know how much I love them. If you’re reading this… that won’t ever change, Maya.
I really don’t know how much travelling I have left in me. It takes a toll on your soul after a while; one too many heartbreaks, one too many goodbyes. Maybe one day I’ll have had my fill of new horizons and fresh faces, and I’ll crave something a little more familiar. But man, I’ve got some fire in me yet. There’s a gorgeous world out there, and you only get one short helter skelter ride around the mortal coil before you’re gone for good; fish food. I don’t plan to waste one single second of it.
Oh, and one more thing: yes, this means that in 91 one days my ‘Berlin Diaries’ will be finished, done, complete, euthanised – though I imagine there’ll be a few more stories to tell in the meantime. And after that? Well, by Jove, I do imagine it’ll be time to start up with the India Diaries, old sport.