Photo by @luceejost
Written by Eliza Lawrence.
I am not too sure where I heard it, but I’d like to start this retrospective with the quote:
“It’s easy to exist, but hard to live’’
Last year we were all gripping at the surface of the cultural, societal and environmental tectonic plates that have been at tension. They have been vibrating so hard, pushing against one another. Globally, I think we can all agree that we have extra lines on our furrowed brows, at the very least. Going into 2022 now overwhelmingly feels like we are just waiting for those tectonic plates to finally give up their fight, to explode and release a diffusion of disasters. I didn’t even question the fact the number one Christmas film was about a comet heading to earth for the imminent apocalypse. All in all, It has become much harder under the sun and much more confusing to know how to live, where your place is in the world and what the future will look like.
Although the septic tank that was last year, isn’t fully jammed with skepticism and mourning. There is a silver lining. This story is about hope in moving forward with love. In the night when the candles go out, that is all there is; love. This year was beautiful too. The spring this year looked like an overdue acid trip. The summer was long and full of dreams. It is easy to exist and certainly hard to live, and although big bad things are happening, there are always big good things.
As much as that quote above was ringing in my head when I began writing, my brain was also met with the melody of the song ‘Special’ by Andrew Ashong. This song soon overrides the pessimistic quote and takes the podium in my mind. This year was special.
You are probably wondering, as a Wasitgoodforyou reader, why I haven't used the word 'sex' yet. I guess you’ve lost your ‘creative boner’ or ‘literary lubrication’ by all this talk of tectonic plates and podiums. Here, is where it gets juicy. In order to talk about the juice, I must also mention the lack of juice I had in 2020. 2020 was the year I lost kilter and I was always of balance. I was fighting loneliness and an urge to jump in the river and be swallowed by the algae. I was able to swim up from the surface in 2021 and left my diving suit covered in asexuality and depression at the bank of that solemn river. This is metaphor of course. Thanks to friends, family, and a hell of a lot of courage I began to feel a mojo that was now stronger than it had ever been before. The mojo pushed me to shake my hips on sun dripped dance floors until darkness wrapped itself around me. The mojo allowed me to make friends who were magical. I was having sex with the same joy I had pre-2020. My heart was growing out again. It was coming out of its cave where it had been listening to Imogen Heap on repeat (sad singer). I was dancing in nightclubs, nectar dripping from my temples, and winking at friends after losing my experimental virginity over and over again. After a lot of messing around, enjoying the mess and lavishing in the explosion, I met someone and began to reflect on love in Berlin.
After a while in Berlin and most people in Berlin would agree with me, you start to yearn for permanence, stability or just something regular. Those three words sound very rational and boring. So, I will try and romanticise this departure into living out those three words, because living out those words is the most romantic thing I have ever experienced. I can only speak for the community I was within, in my four years of Berlin but there is definitely a feeling of impermanence there, that has affected my yearning for love. The people I met and became dearly fond of were all from other lands with the idea that ‘The grass is always greener’ and there’s a lot to say for Berlin being one of the best places to live in the world. The grass is neon green; still gripping on to beautiful socialism (although with tender hooks), still dancing at all hours and still believing that freedom should be the most valuable thing. You can really do anything there. It was like the Wild West and I was having so much fun at being a cowboy. If you meet a rare Berliner there, they will boast of the freedom they have been able to gobble all throughout their lives. However, in my opinion, it comes at a price. Too much freedom can lead to an element of madness, especially for someone like me who grew up with lots of rules. Hail Britannia. I began to watch the effect of this liberation and what it meant for love.
I was brought to Berlin by a Berliner who I was head over heels in love with. I followed him through dark, electric corners, mesmerised by the fact he could touch anything, do anything. Although now, in retrospect, after having been slapped out of that love, I can see pretty clearly that this mentality, created by Berlin’s Wild West, did not make for good boyfriend material, or at least produced, a toxic relationship. It's like being a free parent and never teaching your children discipline. They will keep breaking rules and will be surprised when someone tells them off. This relationship was a firework, expansive and beautiful, but Peter Pan let Wendy go. In this metaphor, I am Wendy and I feel a little older and bolder now, just like she does when she arrives back from her adventure. Obviously, there are exceptions, but being a white, beautiful man, such as my ex- Berliner boyfriend, gives you pretty much first podium in society anyway. Then having the added Berlin upbringing has collided into producing a person that wants to stay forever young, like Peter. The adventure is never over, and that’s totally fine, but it's not for me.
Let's fast forward to dancing and having my mojo back. I remember after the long, hot summer I began to realise that we, including me, had all been enveloped in this Peter Pan-like state. I had lost my Wendy identity, and just like her, my ideas of home began to fade. What replaced home, rules and structure was a fierce need to liberate myself, to hold onto nothing. We were all aching to not grow old and we were all treating Berlin as our Neverland. ‘To land’, is to retain some level of expectation of destination. ‘To land’ is to reach somewhere and stay there, and for us, it was ‘never’ an option. Neverland. There was a whole lot of beauty in this. I wish to get back to it one day. It is an amazing mentality to have. Although, Hook who is the oldest person in Neverland, always seemed sad to me, as he grappled with the past in order to stay ahead of the young. He could never move on or forward. I didn't want to become Hook. I wanted to have adventure on my side, but not forget that life can be as meaningful with rituals, habit and concretism.
Love is also wrapped up in this tornado of freedom. You can find it, but it will be fleeting. Men would never expect you to think that having sex with them would lead to anything serious, and vice versa. There would always be multiple men id be courting, that were all flickering shadows, ready to fade out. Brutal. We all shared this feeling though and we expressed it. Everyone knew everything was casual. After a while though, it makes you crave length, landing and more loyalty. I remember in my first week I started chatting to a girl who had just moved from London. She told me; ’'I never make friends properly here, as I know they are all going to leave’'. I never thought much of it at the time. Now, I see. Berlin is Neverland and some people choose to grow old. To leave the chase for freedom behind. I believe there is a way to live there and grow old at the same time, but to hold onto love is another playing field.
I want to tell you now about how this mentality made me yearn for a deeper love. I began to manifest landing and by some miracle I found it just when my heart had rebuilt its roots. If you had told me this while I was looking into the deep green waters of the miserable river, I would have not believed you. I hear the song ‘Special’ again and my brain begins to go fuzzy, like it does when you have ecstasy, or, for those who have never tried it, like popping candy between your brain. I had forgotten what it feels like to have love. My god. To be held and to hold. To tickle and to be tickled.
I believe there are three true loves in your life or three phases of your career in loving. I will not talk about love of thyself as thats a whole other piece, and for now, I think I've got that one in the bag. The three loves. The first kind is the love that is new, explosive and extremely volatile. Your first loves. That is the love where your heart is shattered and the music you listen to takes a dark hit. I had that love twice and am heavily inspired by those two loves. The second is the one where your heart has learned what it likes, it knows that endurance can only be held if the person holding it is kind. You begin to understand the value of that human and you want to work alongside them, instead of on top of them. This love is not suffocating. It is not selfish. It values length. It values learning. The third, although I am none the wiser, is a love of wisdom, a love that has surpassed age and pain. It is a love that you are surprised about, maybe it doesn’t value the same things the first two do. It has surpassed superficiality. This third love, is like an armchair that is soft in all the right areas and hard in all its structures. Hard enough to hold two figures up.
I am at the second round of love now. I have left the Berlin Neverland that couldn't provide the ecosystem to raise and nurture this second kind of love. The freedom of Berlin still exists in my mind, but I am content knowing I have grasped that idyllic island and that my boat now, lays only at the shore of the mainland, ready to be untied again. Not for a while, though. Im ready for phase two.
I thank everyone for lending me a hand to take me out of that vast river I was about to submerge in. I thank myself for being able to reflect and dream now. I thank my heart for knowing it can fight to love another day. And I thank the second love, for letting me know I’ve moved forward.
This is for anyone, and dedicated to the amazing 4 years I had in Berlin, with the people who I love most.
But most importantly, for those who have not been respected in a relationship, whose body, soul and mind have been abused by someone who is supposed to care for it the most. This is for those who are willing to notice that you can hold yourself, you can make changes, you can open doors and leave the room that is messy and gives you pain. There are ways to move out of the septic tank.
If you ever need to talk or you have a similar story, slide into my dms: @wasitgoodforyou or @kinglizy.
You will be respected.