What to take with you on a trip? It may seem to you that this is a very simple question and the answer to it consists of a few simple steps. But unfortunately, no.
Once I decided to go to Berlin to a coffee exhibition. I invited my friend K. who is also a coffeeholic and a spontaneous soul to join me. I was very grateful he came along because I was scared to go alone. The last time I went to Berlin was with HIM and we were falling in love in the streets of the city. And a couple of months before the coffee trip my heart got broken and I was scared to face all those memories alone. K. has a history with Berlin too. Originally from Zurich, he spent 6 years there looking for answers and discovering himself. Berlin shaped him as an adult. He had moved back to Zurich a year before and hasn’t visited Berlin since then. I had a feeling he was scared it’s going to be like with the first love – he would see Berlin and fall in love again. But nevertheless he decided to be adventurous and go with me.
We traveled separately and agreed to meet in Berlin. When I boarded the plane I could already feel the weight of all my memories on my shoulders. I realised I would have to carry this heavy baggage with me the whole trip. We met in the city, looked at each other and realised we both have brought a lot of that baggage with us.
He started unpacking his as soon as we took an UBahn train. The first thing that laid on the surface was a giant pack full of nostalgia. And it was a lot. He sat by the window, the last glimpses of the setting sun were playing on his face but he didn’t see it. He was looking through the window at the views of Berlin remembering all the fun parties, pointing out the houses where his friends used to live, telling me all those memories of crazy and careless time in Berlin. He seemed to gain more and more weight on his shoulders and he kept putting more.
I, on the contrary, felt at ease until the whole journey brought us to the rooftop bar in the centre where you could see the view on the whole city with its shining lights. It was a beautiful summer night – the first really warm one when you could spend the whole night outside without a jacket and the wind was gently tickling the face.
Then I met S – an old friend of mine and HIS. He asked me one simple question: “Where is he?”. He didn’t know we broke up. That was it. I had a feeling the weight of all those memories suddenly dropped on my shoulders. I tried to keep them compactly folded in my baggage, but this one simple question immediately unpacked all the pain and I could no longer be seen through the cloud of the expanded nostalgia.
And then something funny happened. K. disappeared leaving all his baggage with me. I felt so loaded that I just went back to the hotel. He came back at 7am after clubbing the whole night with exactly the same baggage trying to convince me it’s something completely different and he needed it.
We were both very tired, the body was whining from the heaviness of the baggage we’ve been carrying and we just gave up. We left all of these in the hotel and went for a walk light, just me and him. Looking at things like first-timers, enjoying ice cream, the sun and summery berliners and even the landmarks. Have you ever noticed how heavy is the luggage of the city itself? How many heavy memories it carries from all the history? We have, but decided not to take any of it with us. That night I collected a lot of new light memories from Berlin.
Next day when boarding the plane back home they told me: “Miss, why did you take so many things with you? You have exceeded the luggage limit, leave at least some of your nostalgia in Berlin. What will you do with it in Zurich?”. Indeed, I had way too many new and old things with me. At first I thought it might be worth giving up the coffee from the exhibition, but then I decided that coffee doesn’t take up as much space as all those memories. So I just put some of them on the table and left them there, they belong to Berlin.
What I realised is that it’s important to keep the memories, but sometimes it’s not necessary to bring them with you on a trip otherwise you have no space for something new. Next time I go light, I promise.