You know the saying “You never miss the water until it’s gone”? I am an overachiever when it comes to that. I completely disregard the water until the moment someone indicates it might in a soon future disappear. Then I discover my affection for the water, suddenly I realize I am, actually, the President of the Water Lovers Fanclub.
For more than three years, I nursed my aversion toward Dizzeldorf. Too crowded, takes forever to get anywhere. My part of town? Full of bad-style-pubs, all of my social contacts live in other parts of the city.
Then the decision that my workplace and I will move to Hamburg was made. Not exactly at the same time but pretty close to it, my eyes opened to the fact that Düsseldorf has one of the best airports in Germany. That my hood has a wonderful bookshop, I am a regular at the bulk store, I can walk to the farmer’s market, and the cafés are wonderfully hipster. Did I mention the library that’s around the corner? The guy at the whole food store chats with me, the traditional Rhineland bakery staff is definitely above average friendly. The local church offers very extraordinary services and activities. My favorite breakfast place is run by Persians who make the best müsli-yoghurt-mix. When I go to Gill’s, my preferred bar, the owner bends over backwards with delight, calling, “Nah, it’s not too full, there’s always a seat for you” and makes room. And while I still feel I am cycling on a highway most of the time, I can get most places by bike in the city.
From my balcony, despite living in the city, I look out on a large grassed area with a playground and playing field. On weekends, I wake from children’s sounds and the sun that rises in the east right outside my window. When I do the dishes in the kitchen, I watch dads playing football with their kids. And my apartment is part of a housing cooperative, meaning it has a rent at a reasonable price while generating a 4 % (!) dividend each year. When I applied for the apartment, they told me I’d get it because “you’re new in town and need a place”. When you stroll through the side streets – I even have two special favorite streets -, you can look at the pretty old builings and peer into the windows at the beautiful interiors.
For years, I could never actually notice these things. You are probably reading this, wondering who this is and what they’ve done with Helen. Don’t worry, I still think this place is too crowded, there are too many cars, no good party venues, you can never be alone and it just is too far from most of my friends and family. It’s not like I wanna grow old here.
This is my Last Christmas in this apartment, this city, probably this federal state. But when people ask me now if I am “super psyched to finally leave”, I shrug waveringly. As soon as you only threaten to shut off that water tap…