Some notes on life, a year after leaving Berlin

Hello, world. I’ve been a shitty blogger lately.

I know you’re not supposed to start off a blog post with an apology, but here’s an apology. I’ve been a horrendous blogger. Who drops thousands of dollars on a website redesign and then completely screws off, amiright?

Life has been bit of a shitstorm lately, and honestly, I haven’t figured out how to sort it all out yet. But the other day I had the realization that I’ve been living back in Canada for almost a year, and it felt like a solid punch in the gut.

When I left for Berlin back in 2015, I had no intention whatsoever of returning to Newfoundland anytime in the coming years.

When I moved back to Newfoundland last July, I had no intention of sticking around for more than a few months before I could move back to Berlin.

So how did I come to be here, nearly 12 months later, even more settled into St. John’s than I ever was before I became an expat?

The most obvious answer is this: I fucked up so bad financially in Berlin, you guys. I spent money like it was water. I drained my bank account, maxed out my credit cards, and pretended like I was Ivanka Trump throwing out daddy’s money until the cows came home. I acknowledge all of these mistakes. I own them.

I do not, however, regret them.

Because dudes, did I ever live. Sunset Italian evenings with glasses of wines; hanging out in Berlin parks; walking 750-kilometres across the entirety of Spain; quick jaunts to visit old friends in Ireland; yacht sailing in the Mediterranean. It was all so, so, so, good.

And yeah I do miss it. A lot. I can’t think about travel without feeling pained. But I was never leading a sustainable lifestyle.

Sometimes I sit back and think about the weird domino-effect of decisions and how they lead you to strange places. When I applied for the communications position with the film festival back in September, it was a shot in the dark. I needed the income, and the position seemed great for me. I didn’t know much about film, but my boss took a chance on me and it worked out. I absolutely love my job. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m contributing something truly meaningful. I’m in no hurry to leave it. Being a part of the arts community in Newfoundland has truly been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Money isn’t everything, obvs. But now that I have a respectable income and I’m working side gigs on the regular, I have a sweet savings built up, and some peace of mind that just wasn’t there before. I went hungry last year, you guys. Because I’m a dumb fucker.

And that’s the funny thing too–it’s like the minute I decided to stop freelancing full-time, all the good gigs came in. Take a look at my sexy media page. In less than seven months I’ve written for CBC Arts (regularly), CBC NL, BBC Travel, The Independent, Refinery 29. Where were these jobs when I was struggling to make ends meet last year?

Ah, freelance.

I do not miss it.

At all.

So, going with the domino effect, I realize I do harp on Berlin a lot. But this time around in St. John’s, I feel oddly comfortable. Bizarrely comfortable. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because I decided to stop taking the birth control pill about 16 months ago–I’m a whole different person. Can I attribute this newfound contentment to the removal of hormones, or am I just different?

I think I’m different. I look at Newfoundland with new eyes. I see the value in routine and steady income. I have a different set of friends here this time around. I still have the old ones, but there’s no shortage of people to call up on a Friday afternoon for a deck beer somewhere on Water Street.

My one real regret–and this is lame, considering–is that I haven’t been able to keep up with this website at all. And I hate most of the content I’ve been pushing lately. I truly do. Do you know how freaking hard it is to write and be relevant when you’re not travelling, ever, and you work 60 hours a week? I don’t do anything interesting like pottery or gardening, although that seems to be the general progression in one’s life these days.

But I’m sorry for that. I really hope I haven’t lost much of my true readership. I will do better. I promise.

Right now, I’m unable to travel for some time. I’ve done two trips this year, to Jamaica and Ireland. And while those were amazing experiences, they were entirely wedding-focused and so I can’t exactly say I travelled much. If you get my drift.

I’ve been really vague with my Berlin friends who keep asking when I’m coming back. Sometimes I think I’m almost avoiding them–the conversations around Berlin make me emotional. I think about that city all the time. I’m crying now just writing this. I often think what would happen if I did move back. Would it be the same? Would I enjoy living in a different apartment? (I so loved that apartment.) Would I be more involved in the community? (Not just beer gardens.)

I hope that those friends I made in Germany know that we’ve got a bond I’ll never ignore. They’re as good to me as the friends I grew up with. I didn’t intend to be back in Canada for so long, and some day sooner rather than later, I’ll be back in Berlin.

I’m turning 31 next month, beotches. I may be going blind and I’m pretty sure I’m developing carpal tunnel syndrome in my left wrist, but praise jesus, I’m still young!

  • June 21 2017

    So our situations are quite different, but as someone who also hasn’t really traveled at all in the past year- I relate to this a lot. I have been telling myself that there are simply different seasons in life. Maybe now is the recover and save money and get equilibrium time, but it won’t last forever and adventure season will come around again soon.

    • July 08 2017

      EXACTLY in the same boat! I don’t even think I’ll be travelling again within the next year, honestly. It’s going to take some recovery time.

  • June 21 2017

    I don’t think I’ve ever been as broke as you describe, but I can at least somewhat relate to the struggle of wondering where your next paycheck is coming from and whether you’ll have enough money to pay the bills. You’ve done some AMAZING things, and I’m glad you don’t regret any of that, even if you went a little crazy spending money in the process. I’m also glad you seem so happy these days. I totally get the frustration of wanting two things at the same time that conflict with each other. Your life in Canada is going really well right now and you like it…but you want to be in Berlin too. Might just be best to stick with what’s working now until it doesn’t work for you anymore. As for your blog…well, wasn’t it supposed to be a lifestyle blog, not just about travel? So you figure out what else you enjoy writing about and do that. But seriously, I’m so happy for you that you’re happy!
    Ali recently posted…How Much Money I Make Online: Income Report May 2017

    • July 08 2017

      Thanks Ali, I’ve always loved your no-nonsense approach to things! :) And you’re entirely right, of course. Things are going great now–no need to stress to much about where they’re headed. I honestly doubt I’ll be travelling even within the next year or so. I’ve got some catching up to do.

  • June 21 2017

    Life is just an ongoing story with amazing and confusing chapters. Also, the pill IS evil. I got off it years ago.. and boom, I went back to being a normal person again lol. You made me laugh because strangely since my move I have become obsessed with the simple pleasures of gardening and growing my own produce.. Who would’ve thought? Miss you!

    • July 08 2017

      Hahaha I’d LOOOVE to pick up gardening! Miss you too!

  • June 21 2017

    I feel you on this. I am currently a freelancer myself and I miss the days of a steady paycheck and being able to travel without working. I temped in offices for years and it was great working 3-9 month contracts – it gave me some routine and stability for the time I was working but I knew that it was for a limited amount of time so I never felt trapped. It allowed me to save money so I could travel for at least a few months when my contract ended before I went for another one. I definitely want to get into either seasonal work (I’m thinking summer season in a Colorado mountain town) or temping again in the future.

    • July 08 2017

      I like that about the whole contractual thing too! It’s a good way to do it, actually. And usually plenty of those floating around.

  • June 22 2017

    This line rings so true for me: “Sometimes I sit back and think about the weird domino-effect of decisions and how they lead you to strange places.”
    Most of the time the strange places are good places or at least have a way of working out. What’s hard is when you’re in the middle of something and don’t see things resolving themselves anytime soon… and then suddenly everything seems to work out. I never thought I’d be married to a French guy living in France, but here I am. ;-)
    Great piece!

    • July 08 2017

      Thanks so much, Diane! It’s so weird to sit back and reflect on how much happens in such a short amount of time. Life is a constant adventure.

  • June 23 2017

    Holy crap, you’ve been back for a year?!
    Glad that the job is going well, along with the writings and that the bank account is looking plumper!

    • July 08 2017

      Right?! I find it hard to wrap my head around too! Haha.

  • June 28 2017

    Hey Candice- Glad to see you so aptly describing…EVERYTHING I’m going through! It’s as if you and I are channeling the same brain wavelength. I appreciate this blog post so much. Please do not feel like your blog is going to the wayside. This is gold.

    This line rang especially true for me: “I can’t think about travel without feeling pained. But I was never leading a sustainable lifestyle.”

    It’s such a conundrum, isn’t it? When I get to feeling conflicted, I find solace in repeating to myself what I’m grateful for. It’s helped me – and it looks like it’s helped you too.

    It’s good to look at what we have in this moment as better than before (bank account bigger), but yet, it’s difficult to still feel the very real pain of loss and longing (missing the memories, longing for the adventure). I think in that “in between,” that weird place where we are forced to reconcile the differences between these two things, is where we do most of our growing and lean further into ourselves.

    Another quote I read recently, after the self-assured “I’m not poor! I have a career finally!” euphoria wore off and the blues set in, was “Don’t idealize the culture of the life you left behind.” It’s now on a piece of scrap paper in between post cards from friends and and pictures of family on my refrigerator. It’s a “coming to Jesus” moment for me to remember: Yes, living in a hut with only the starlight illuminating the sky was amazing, but sharing a toilet with 12 people and running up my credit card balance in a frenzy of chasing after bohemian moments was not amazing.

    I hope you continue to enjoy life as it comes at you, and for both of our sakes, we find peace, loving and understanding with what it means to be a traveler.

    • July 08 2017

      Jill, so amazing to hear from you, and thank you so much for the well thought out response. :) I’m so glad this struck home for you, and that I’m not alone in this. Actually, judging by this entire comment thread, seems like there’s quite a few of us.

      I’m not unhappy by any means but I certainly do miss that freedom. But I couldn’t keep it up. And I doubt I’ll be going back to that anytime soon. It’s most definitely a period of growth for us!

  • July 07 2017

    I’ve recently moved back to Canada after living in Edinburgh for two years and I felt exactly the same as you did when you returned. (Your post On Coming Home After One Year sums up every emotion I’ve experienced since being back. Like exactly.) But this post makes me feel a bit better about life – maybe as time passes I’ll start feeling ok with the idea of living in Canada again (especially since I can’t go back to the UK, damnit!)
    Ashley recently posted…When Everything Comes Together, Then Falls Apart

    • July 08 2017

      Yes, I promise you you will, even though it’s not an entirely comforting thought! Lol. I honestly can’t believe a year has passed. It blows me away.

  • July 19 2017

    Dude, I feel the same way. You pine for Berlin the way I long for Canada haha. Saying that I am about to return for a few months before I head off to New Zealand. I hope you get to Berlin (wanna swap nationalities?).
    Mike Cotton recently posted…8 Reasons why summer in Fernie is awesome

    • August 09 2017

      Hahaha, CAN we?! I wish I could live between both worlds. All the time.

  • February 28 2018

    I’m curious if those friendships will remain or ebb away if you don’t get back soon enough. Had the same problem with Japan…
    Turner recently posted…My Most Intense Travel Experience of All

  • April 16 2018

    Hi Candice!
    I just discovered your site, and I love it. Do you mind if I ask what all you did for work while you were in Berlin? Was it mostly occasional freelance, and that’s why you ended up in a tough spot financially? Thanks for your time.

    • May 14 2018

      Yes, correct! I also lived off my savings, which ran out quick, haha.

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