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When my wife asked me how I wanted to celebrate my fiftieth birthday, the answer came easy: “With you, somewhere.” The reason was twofold: it was indeed the best celebration for me, and I had no intention of ending up in a party, especially in this period.
When my wife rightly asked me to be a little more specific, again the answer came easy: “Berlin.”
I’m not a guy who likes parties. I guess that it shows.
Although I’ve always been a solitary type, the last two years have been close to the hermitage, and so I wanted it to be on my fiftieth birthday, except for my wife.
We are now on the train, heading for the center, from the airport. The suburban landscape flows silently. Under a pleasant gray sky. I guess that even my sense of “pleasant” shows some deviation from normality.
The beginning of a trip, with my wife, in a city that I want to know. In all sincerity, realistically, I cannot imagine a better gift. Indeed, it is far beyond what I deserve, and I know it.
It cannot be a trip like many others we already did, for many reasons. Life changes so many things. Better, everything. But being here is an immense gift already. Maybe I should have thought this way many times before today.
It is not at all the birthday I could have imagined many years ago. It’s probably the opposite of what I could have imagined. And — surprise — that’s okay with me.
As a boy, I did not even imagine my fiftieth birthday. My life should have taken place much earlier. There were so many things to do. Fifty years, I really did not imagine them. They were so far away. A whole life would have already passed, with so many goals certainly already achieved.
In part, it went just like that, but certainly not how I imagined.
Life has “raised” me, in the common sense of the term, up to forty-fifth years. Then it gave up. Both on the family, before, and on the job, then. The forty-eighth birthday was the last of my previous life. Restarting from zero. Perhaps less.
Nothing of my many — too many — dreams has come true. My likely best years, gone. Nothing of what my family deserved remained. Damages did, many.
Yet, I was given a gift: my head started working in reverse, almost spontaneously. I stopped wanting so many things. I stopped wishing for roles and appearances. I abandoned pieces of mind that did not serve anyone, me first. I wiped the slate clean and I rekindled new energies, much more similar to what should have been a long time ago.
The only real regret of this process is how difficult and worrying it is for those around me.
Berlin. When you think of Berlin, you cannot ignore its past. Actually, we’re just going there to remember it. I feel closer to those tragic memories than to places that celebrate life.
But Berlin is also rebirth. It is also a thousand energies that give life to something new.
It’s right, to be here.
Although, in truth, I know little about this city. Only my wife studied, as always. I will wander like an idiot, observing details and snatching energies. Not everything changes.
I have the distinct feeling of a last trip, and it’s not a good feeling at all. The time of restart has long expired, and the situation is not that rosy. I’m sure I will manage, but I do not know what will come.
But now we are here. There is my wife and there is a suitcase. Outside, a city to explore. And, fortunately, there is still a tomorrow. Really, there’s everything I need today.
I feel like a child. Maybe I am.
And I guess it shows.