These past few weeks, I have been alone with my thoughts more than usual and I’ve realized some things: I don’t think I understand people as much as I thought I did, and I don’t think I understand myself as much as I thought I did either. I think that maybe I’m just as confused as I always was, only in another part of the world.
Sometimes I think that my coming to Europe was the most selfish thing I have ever done in my life. I’ll never forget the time my dad came up to me after dinner one night and whispered “Don’t go to Europe” in my ear. That broke my heart a little. But I left anyway. One year later, I left my home and the people I love in pursuit of new adventures and a new life and new friends. I packed up my bags and I left them standing there behind the security line watching me go off to discover the world. And where did that get me? It got me here – sitting by myself in front of the Berliner Dom – listening to Moon River and convincing myself that there’s such a lot of world to see. And there is – I know there is. But I think that, if you’re going to leave behind family and friends and home, you have to really want it. Really want it. Because that’s the only way you’ll be able to convince yourself that leaving behind everyone you love was worth it.
Now it’s just me and the world. And it’s kind of strange that the world can be such a big place full of billions of people…but full of so much loneliness too. Sometimes when I look around me, it seems like a lot of people are lonely. It seems like the old man who was sitting in the shade quietly drawing the Berliner Dom was lonely, and the lady who sneezed on the bus was lonely, and the guy who was sitting on the bench staring intently at the water was lonely. Maybe they weren’t. But sometimes, it just seems like everyone in the world has a bleeding heart. A bleeding heart that we all ignore or choose not to talk about.
Before I left for Europe, I remember thinking that there would be times in Europe that would make me feel like my grandpa had died all over again. I thought I would feel isolated, and lonely, and impossibly far away from the people I love. Of course I do miss my family and I do feel lonely sometimes – but it isn’t a physical type of loneliness. It’s not the loneliness of being over here while the people I love are over there – I know it’s not, because it’s the same type of loneliness I felt when I was at home. It’s a void, a hole, an empty space of sorts – and I don’t know what’s missing or how I’m supposed to fill it but I don’t think it has to do with the people I love…I think it has to do with the rest of the world. Because being here has made me realize that there are times when I feel just as lonely as I always was…only in another part of the world.
To be completely honest, I don’t miss home at this point as much as I thought I would. It’s been a month since I landed in Berlin, and while I’ve been in email communication, I’ve only called home twice. It makes me feel a little guilty – but I don’t think it means that I love home any less or that I love Europe more. I think it means that I’ve learned to live in the moment and appreciate the time I have and all the wonder that is going on around me. I think I am realizing that I can be both happy and sad at the same time. And I think I’m allowed to feel happy in Europe without feeling guilty for not missing home, and that I am allowed to be sad in Europe without feeling guilty for not enjoying myself every minute. Because I think my heart is big enough to feel more than one emotion at a time and I think that it’s okay if it doesn’t always know what to feel: I think that’s what makes me human.