misslake moved to Edmonton. I can't recall the specific dates. The past is so fluid.
I would drive every couple o' weekends to Edmonton to see her, or she would come visit me. Our time together was one of the best things going in my life at that point. I did a poor job communicating this. Took it for granted that she'd always be there.
misslake moved back to Toronto. I don't blame her: suburban Edmonton is a terrible place to be. I missed her.
My work, which had generally been quite fun and interesting, spiraled towards tedium. I was promoted to a role where I got to oversee lots of projects. That is: to oversee how they were going to fail but be generally powerless to prevent it. I was asked to write a lot of documents. I was asked not to experiment or try things. I was asked not to use new technologies unless I could provide a 100 page spec document as to why it was a good idea.
I started to drink a little more than usual when I went out to the bar, and I started to regret my drinking the next morning. I started smoking cigarettes. I smoked more weed.
I continued to believe everything was fine.
One night my heart hammered in my chest so hard I thought I was having a heart attack. In the morning I thought maybe that was silly. The next night it happened again. In the morning I called my mom and she brought me to the doctor.
The doctor said it was probably just stress. I told him stress doesn't do things like that. He said yes, it does. I told him I had nothing to be stressed about in my life. He said I probably did but was ignoring it. On his little prescription pad he wrote me a telephone number for a crisis hotline.
On the way back home from the doctor I told my mom I wanted to quit my job.
I went to Vancouver for a week-long vacation even though I had just been in Vancouver a couple months before. I thought maybe I'd check out the city to see if I could live there. But I think I only wanted to be anywhere else besides Calgary at the time.
I stayed with some friends, in a guest bedroom they had. The guest bedroom was in the middle of the house and had no windows. It was pitch black and there was no sense of time. It was strange. That isn't important but it's interesting.
One day I went to the website of a music software company whose products I use and love, to look for tips. They were hiring programmers and the skillset they wanted matched mine pretty well.
I did a phone interview. Then I went on vacation to Italy with my family and on the way back I stopped in Berlin to interview in-person at this company.
The weekend I was in Berlin it was hot and the weather was beautiful. It was the weekend of the Berlin marathon. The centre of the city had been turned into the marathon course. There were spectators all over; they drank beer outside in the sunshine. They talked to each other in their strange language, all smiles. They were mostly fit and well dressed. They were the most beautiful people I ever saw.
I flew back to Calgary. Sometime later the music software company offered me a job. I said yes.
I quit my job in Calgary. I packed up and sold, threw away, or sold all my things. (My parents ended up storing a lot of my junk. I tried to throw a lot of it away but they wouldn't let me.)
I said goodbye to everyone I ever knew.
I arrived in Berlin on December 31, 2009 at 10:00 PM. Everyone was in the street lighting dangerously large firecrackers. There were streams of fire raining down from the windows of the altbau buildings as residents launched fireworks into the sky. At midnight the whole city was exploding like some horrible warzone.
I was in a hostel. My room faced the courtyard. Outside people were drunk and yelling.
I sat in my bunk with my knees at my chin like some scared animal. My heart hammered. I thought a lot about dying. About what would happen if I died here, alone, far from everybody. I thought about flying home.
That was the worst moment of my time in Berlin. Every moment since has been better than the last.
I went to work. It was fun. It was technology I knew but with things to learn too. I met new, wonderful people. I like them a lot.
I developed a taste for German beer.
I lived with a guy named Rob at first. He was a good guy though a little temperamental about cleaning the bathroom. Rob was getting his PhD in psychology. He worked at the maximum security mental health hospital, with murderers, psychopaths, and rapists. That isn't important but it's interesting. Rob brought me to clubs and showed me around town. He introduced me to his friends.
I got a place of my own in Kreuzberg, which is a cool part of town. It's by a bridge where lots of people sit around and drink. It's relaxing. All of Berlin is pretty relaxing.
In a few days I'll be moving into a new place. Unfurnished. I am starting a new life here. I don't know how long I'll stay. Maybe a couple more years. Maybe forever.
My heart doesn't hammer in my chest anymore. Not often, anyway. And I don't think about death so much. I still think I'm not an adult, that I'm not a fully competent person... but I sure as hell don't feel like a teenager or even like a 20-something any more. So I'm learning how to be an adult day be day. And I don't know what the future will bring but for the first time in a while I think I'm not too afraid of it. I think it might even be fun.
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