It’s been nearly four months since I left Berlin.
Now I have a new routine. I’m a dog sitter and a cat sitter, and after a brutal summer of making zero dollars, I’m now the communications coordinator for the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival. I just wrapped up my first 9-5 week in six years. I absolutely loved every minute of it.
I still live out of a suitcase. I haven’t paid rent since June. The #2 Metrobus is my ticket to work everyday, but I walk home for 38 minutes in the evenings so that I can save on the $2.25 fare. Everything is a calculated measure to get back to Berlin, but I’ve slipped so easily back into my old life, it’s stunning. There was no adjustment period. I am interwoven into Newfoundland’s fabric.
Working two full time jobs and attending part-time classes at the college has kept me busy. There hasn’t been much room for reflection. But sometimes, like last night, I’m sitting at the kitchen table answering emails and suddenly I’m hit so hard with a memory from Berlin that it feels like I’ve been punched in the gut. Did that year really happen? I’m baffled. I miss it so much.
July and August were a struggle. I was broke, lonely, and anxious. I sat on the floor in my housesit’s pantry and took stock of what I had to eat — a can of tomato soup, and some crackers. I wondered what on earth I could do to get out of this mess. Gratefully, I was busy with weddings and visitors. But when the crowds parted and I had too much time on my hands, things got rough.
So I decided to start taking advantage of all the things I couldn’t do while in Berlin.
I started hiking whenever possible. I hit my favourite trail on the planet, the North Head Trail to the top of Signal Hill, overlooking St. John’s. I revisited The Reluctant Chef, one of my favourite restaurants, with Maggie. I spent a few days on the Irish Loop. I walked along St. Vincent’s Beach, trying to spy whales through the fog as thick as pea soup. I came across a young girl and her mother practicing their whale calls. I couldn’t see the ocean, but I could smell its brine, and I could taste it, and I could hear the rocks rolling like they’ve done forever, and I felt plugged back into it all.
Me and my dearest friends spent the weekend at the cabin, canoeing, and swimming, and cooking over an open fire. In Trinity Bight, I embarked on a little staycation. Feeling like a fish out of water, I walked the length of Bonavista and ate homemade ice-cream, shopped for used books, and took in the sunset. I hiked the Skerwink Trail alone in Trinity East, taking time to sit on the edge of the cliff to embrace the ocean. After a few pints of beer at the new brewpub in Port Rexton, I walked home under the most brilliant starry canvas I’d ever seen, and with my head tipped back staring at the sky, I tumbled head long in love again.
Now I’m part of the arts community, and it’s absurdly wonderful. I talked about how much I loved the anonymity in Berlin, but it’s the opposite here — I’ve never worked in the film industry before, but I still know everyone. I enjoy my work; I love being a part of it. I love being in downtown St. John’s again; I love skipping out on lunch break for brownies at Fixed. I am enthralled by the films in this year’s festival. I am, for the first time in a long time, very happy.
So is it possible to live between two worlds?
Where am I going with this blog post? Why am I even writing all this? Maybe we all need to step back from our homes sometimes to appreciate what we have. I suspect I’m not the only one who has gone through these emotions after moving home from abroad. It’s like being in a constant state of limbo. What happens next? What am I doing where? Where is my life going?
There are big opportunities for me in Newfoundland — it’s one of the most special places in the world, and we living here often take it for granted. But I’m still so in love with the world, and I’m certain the journey doesn’t end here. Finding that balance is all part of the next chapter.
“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want.” – Sylvia Plath