Spring. Summer. Autumn. Winter. Wax. Wane. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. So many seasons, so many cycles, so many changes. As the winter cold settles into my bones, I’m taking a moment to reflect on the changes that have come with the rise and fall of the tides.
Most things in my life run in cycles. Everything comes full-circle eventually; everything has a beginning and an end. These transitions are made even more poignant by the cyclical nature of the city in which I live in. Berlin is a city populated by transient beings. As soon as one leaves, there is another to take his or her place. Rarely does anyone stay for more than three years, most are only here for “6 months to a year”. Though the summer is fleeting, Berlin does indeed experience the 4 full seasons of the calendar. With the passing of each season, I lose another batch of friends, spreading like seeds in the wind. My social circle has a cyclical pulse just like anything else. This year, the inevitable change hit me harder than I expected.
Those long fingers of a dwindling sun reached out over the city of Berlin and dusted the surfaces in my Prenzlauer Berg flat with the goldenrod powder of a Jahreszeit being ushered out. You could already taste Autumn in the air. The summer crowd packed their bags, took their final pictures at Alex, and boarded the last of the cheap flights out of TXL. Among them was one of my closest friends, Sarah.
I could tell you the story of how Sarah and I met. I could list her favorite foods. I could divulge the innermost secrets of our friendship. Instead, I’ll tell you Sarah was there through so many transitions, so many cycles. Her level head, honest heart, and inquisitive nature were key factors in my happiness in Berlin. Sarah’s willingness to try anything, her drive to do everything and her ability to offer perspective were much needed elements in my life abroad. As the seasons raged on, Sarah was a constant.
How many times have I heard, “Nothing gold can stay.”? How many times have I said that myself? That idea runs through the very core of my existence. Yet I resist that moment when I have to pull out my boots and mittens; put the grill in the basement; bring the flower pots inside. Even though I am just as excited for the arrival of glühwein and baumkuchen; pulling the sled out of the attic; and decorating the Christmas tree.
I resist change because it means losing something. I couldn’t imagine just how hard I would resist Sarah’s departure. I cried as I watched her plane disappear into the clouds, and again as those clouds blew east. Nothing gold can stay.
Now I sit wrapped in a blanket with a hot water bottle at my feet. I hold a dried leaf, its burnt orange veins running through its fragile yellow skin, a remnant from the brief autumn in Berlin. I schedule plans in my agenda for the coming holiday season. I laugh at the memories of last year. Tonight, I am going out with new friends, to a new bar on the other side of town. Because now is the time to breathe life back into old customs, to make new memories for reflection during this moment that will inevitably come next year. Instead of mourning a winter without Sarah, I’ll celebrate the fact that my adventures with new friends will be excellent stories to tell her, a way to keep her connected to my life here in Berlin. And together, we’ll share the excitement of changes that come with each passing day.