Sunday, January 3, 2010

My hometown(s)

For the past 2,5 years I have called Melbourne, Australia, home. Andi and I moved here in August 2007. We didn’t have to. We didn’t have a job here. We didn’t have an apartment here. We had never been to Australia before. We just wanted to experience a different culture. We wanted to see this amazing country. We wanted to improve our English skills. We wanted to live near the sea for once in our lives. Crazy? Maybe, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions in our life. We absolutely fell in love with this country, its people, its animals and plants, its beaches and its dry desolated landscape, its food, its traditions and celebrations. Melbourne really became our hometown.

Before I have lived in Berlin, Germany, for 13 years. Andi even spent more time there since he was born there. It is not a very typical German city. First of all it is bigger (about 3 million inhabitants and growing) but I think its differentness originate in other things. For 40 years it has been a divided city due to the Wall and the split of Germany into East and West. Then it was chronically broke – enabling artists and bohemians to make an affordable living there. Therefore various subcultures developed and are still developing and reinventing themselves every day. It became my hometown because it embodied freedom of thinking and living. I studied there. I had my first ‘real’ job there. I started my career and settled down.

My first hometown, however, was Munich, located in the south of Germany. I spend a wonderful childhood there. I grew up in the outskirts of Munich, close to forests and lakes (great when being a kid) but still within the public transport system of the city (very important if you are a teenager). After finishing my A-levels, however, it suddenly seemed to be too small for me. Just 1.4 million people, you know. I was 19 and needed to explore the world. So I went to Berlin to start university. Munich is still my hometown though and I remember this every time I visit my family there. When you go to the local post office or bakery, you can be sure that you will meet someone with whom you went to primary school or someone you played basketball with. And you know what I start to appreciate rather than resent it.

Until now I found three very different hometowns and they all have a special place in my heart. I am a very curious person, however, and my previous experiences gave me the confidence that I can make many cities my hometown. So, we’ll see how many will be on my list when I turn 82 ;-)

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