Until this summer I was living in a beautiful apartment with two balconies in Amsterdam – now I live in Madrid. For many people that would seem to be a step back, but I am not sure.
After four years in Amsterdam I have had it, I thought. I had gotten this feeling over the years a few times, but always fell back in love with the city. This time though, I was certain and determined to find a new country, a new city and a new home. I began to create scenarios for many different cities. Being honest though, I have to say that those scenarios were all idealised and romanticised, but that is not important. I actually was in a quite comfortable position. I had neither pressure nor a time limit to decide for whatever and wherever. I was even financially covered, as I had enough savings from my last job, and if I was to live like Ghandi or Jesus, I could easily survive a year on cheap red wine, coffee and bread.
Once you tell your friends about what you are planning, they will give advice no matter if you had asked for it or not. “It is crisis” – I heard it over and over. Amsterdam itself had become popular too, as I met an increasing amount of Greeks, Italians, Spanish, and even some Catalans. “There are no jobs.” “If you have one, you don’t get paid much.” Someone even told me that the only businesses flourishing in Athens are bike shops, because no one wants to pay for transportation anymore.
I had no intention of moving anywhere near to where I live now. However, I somehow do live in Madrid now. Once I told my friends that I was moving to Madrid, they didn’t really understand, and if I am honest I didn’t either. I had no obvious and rational reason to leave. Amsterdam had no crisis and it is one of the best functioning cities in Europe. So why move away? Well, I was ready to leave and put myself into something new. I wanted a deliberate change. I wanted my idealised and romanticised scenarios. I wanted to be inspired.
Many young people these days feel inspired to do something – something creative. There are places where this seems more possible than in others. There are places where inspiration seems to be available endlessly. But that’s not how inspiration works. Berlin is the perfect example.
Berlin is the hype and that is nothing new. Whether hipster or creative – the German capital is the place to be. Berlin has been moving forward ever since the wall fell. Rightly so! But what exactly is it that catches the attention and draws so many different people into the city, I asked myself. That is a complex question, but perhaps not so hard to answer. Many will say that the circumstances were ideal and that created a general feeling of euphoria within the entire city. Well, part of that might be true, but it seems more complex. Berlin has been very attractive for many years – culturally and even economically in some sense. A few of my friends have moved there, only some have moved away.
Berlin has been in the limelight of attention for quite some time now, just as London or Paris had been before. Many creative people – also many with a lot of money – have flooded Berlin. Surely that will have some consequences eventually.
However, in my search for a new home, I wasn’t looking for the ‘new’ Berlin, but I did think about what it might be. Where is the attention going to move? Surely it will move further east, I thought. Bucharest! That’s what I came up with. I somehow imagined that Bucharest would be the new up and coming focal point of the young and creative. Well, I thought again. Perhaps that is not going to happen that soon. There is a high chance that it will happen, but perhaps not as soon as I imagined. Maybe in ten years or so, when Berlin has been taken over completely by investment bankers and every free spot at the river Spree will be bought and occupied with an office building. I agree that this sounds very cynical, but it might be the truth.
Anyhow, I was leaving Amsterdam and not going to Berlin or to Bucharest.
Madrid – Spanish capital and once home to Franco, was going to become my home. There was no rationality behind my decision. There was no plan or even scenarios anymore, only vague romanticised ideals.