I am leaving Berlin after over a decade.
It was a place where I arrived as a young, clueless intern who was torn, tempted, and at times overwhelmed by everything the city had to offer.
It’s where I started my professional adventure by getting to sleep on a stinky mattress in a tiny room in Kreuzberg, in marihuana-infused flat (courtesy of my flatmates), working 12-14 hours per day for 400 euro monthly.
It was a place where I had flatmates who were trainee doctors, opera singers & astrologists, aspiring rap-singer & stripper, local activist and fellow Polish immigrant who became a good friend.
It was here, where on one of the first parties I got to drink anise-based drinks from a bottle with a scorpion inside (and that’s one of the less weird things I tried).
It was here where I while being an intern, I stood up to a Managing Director, looked her in the eye, said “This was a bit disrespectful towards Polish and not cool”… and still managed to get promoted later.
It was here where I got to know the real deal behind startup safari, the hustle, the chaos, the politics.
It was a city, where I landed two dreams jobs ( beating 150 other candidates at one), got promoted three times, but also failed to succeed two times at other projects.
It was a city, where I co-founded a software agency, which almost had a shot.
It was here where I met my Wife.
It was here, where we first saw each other on Alexanderplatz.
It was here where I jumped off the roof of RadissonBlu Hotel, on a rope, with a rose and a ring in my hand to propose to Her.
It was here, where one joke of pastor would stumble, stutter, and eventually refuse to bless our relationship because of my Catholic faith.
It was here, where we met an amazing Priest, who himself had had Protestant & Catholic parents, and who would agree to take us for marriage preparation classes.
It was here, where we went for our engagement dinner in George Clooney’s favourite steakhouse and ate the best and most overpriced steak in my life.
It was here, where I got to directly participate in the most horrifying and yet most joyful moments in my life; the birth of our two sons.
It was here, where in one of the flats my neighbours would shout at me from a balcony each time I parked my car not exactly straight.
It was here, where in front of the same flat, a circus would set up and let the camels lose to eat grass in front of our terrace.
It was here where I bought didgeridoo for my musician bro who played it later on a Warsaw Autumn Music Festival.
It was here, where I saw UFO (for real!).
It was here, where I bought my first car and got it crashed.
It was here, where I drank gluhwein on Christmas market, smoked shisha in Arabic bar with my Muslim colleagues, drank Polish vodka with a good Friend at midnight at Brandenburger Gate.
I came to Berlin lonely, estranged, anxious. I was an intern, who had big dreams, who believed in myths, legends & fairy tales such as One Love that conquers all.
In the decade that came, that was all put to a hard test.
Berlin was my trial through fire.
I never ditched my beliefs and I remained out of place.
Thank God for that.
So Berlin is a city which I will remember well, yet which I am glad to leave behind.
Been a hell of a ride.
I am off at the next stop.