I move on.
This is the fifth city I consider home, this magical place where you know your way around, where you have friends, and your own bed.
I am about to leave. Once again I feel the sadness to trade so much I cherish for something I don’t know yet. I know it will come, the joy of exploration and the excitement of the New. It always did, but it isn’t here yet. Soon this home will dissolve into memories.
This seems to be the right moment to look back, to figure out what this city has taught me, what I have learned simply by living. I already knew how to drink beer. Well, doing it by the litre was new.
When I came here I had a plan. It crashed and burned almost instantly, but I leave with a new one. A compliment to this city, that helped me figure some things out. There is little tolerance around here for confusion or chaos. Things have to be neat, or at least look that way. Public transportation is reliable. The streets are clean and safe. In a way this city resembles a huge well run village. Everyone seems to have a plan. A grounded one. A solid one. Most people seem to have the same plan.
This city is a serious place, where smiles seem to be restricted …
… to certain moments.
From locals I heard that things have been different in the past, that things are changing fast. Recent economic success has catapulted this rural backwater capital into market driven and shark infested waters. It is fun for the sharks. It is much less funny for the smaller fish.
Old traditions become folklore.
A new culture is on the rise.
If you can you live by the lake.
It has patches for the rich, the semi-rich, and the hopefully-soon-rich. It’s complicated.
Well, there are other places to get a view of the mountains, though.
Life is good around here. And there are plenty of expats to broaden the local mindset.
What did I learn? I learned to stand my ground. I think I was able to do that before I came here. But this city took me to a new level.
A few month after I arrived I was standing in a subway coach, in front of the door, not too close, not too far away, when between stations an elderly man tried to squeeze past me, to shove me aside without a word. He was much smaller than me, and as I did not move ended up stuck between me and the wall of the carriage. I was irritated. I was amused. I looked down. He looked up. When I still didn’t move, he asked something like staigns aus, which I think is short for “Are you planning on leaving the train at the next stop?” When I answered yes, he gave me permission to remain standing where I was.
People around here seem to hate it when others stand in their way. This honk-before-you-brake attitude may very well be the reason for this city’s economic success, but it certainly takes some of the lightness out of everyday life.
There are pockets of resistance, though.
I will miss the river, the mountains, and the beer gardens.