Thursday, April 12, 2012

Have Bike, Will Travel: an interview with Wiebke

I met Wiebke a few years ago in a dance class, and am so glad I did.  We've lindy hopped late into the night, enjoyed glasses of wine and rich conversation and shared a love of movie-going, whether it be on blanket in the park or a cushy seat in a darkened theater.  She always has some wise insight or kind thing to say and really cares about how she lives her life.  She's a car-free, urban life lover and has frequently been an inspiration for me, which is why I was so sad to lose her to Berlin, but happy to get to interview her.  Read on for her thoughts on the great big transition of returning home:





I could have never imagined that my most difficult transition was to return to Germany after about six years in the U.S. and Canada.

Most of those years were spent in San Francisco. I left part of my heart there, part of it in Brooklyn. Though the last two years of my time abroad were the most difficult in terms of decision-making, dealing with people, myself, moving places, and from coast to coast, those years were a breeze compared to landing back on German ground. It was a very rocky landing.

I moved back to the only city in Germany I could imagine as a permanent home and was extremely lucky to find an affordable apartment in a nice parts of the former East of the city. Then reality knocked on my door, loud and clear:

 
I’d never had a problem making friends in the cities and countries I had moved to. But this time I wasn’t the foreigner anymore, the one with the funny accent, and I was in the most "grumpy" cities of all. Small talk is something Berliners have not heard of, or see as a very strange concept of friendly interaction. The other problem was that I worked from home, or at least I tried, and if I wanted to, I could spend days in my pajamas, eat tons of junk-food, and be a mess. Berlin's dark and gray winters are a perfect backdrop to this scenery.


But something finally made me shift gears: One day in early January I got up, bought a bicycle, and started riding in snow, rain, and freezing temperatures. It has changed my perspective in so many ways. I’ve been exploring neighborhoods, fantastic coffee shops and the beauty of this city. The physical aspect of cycling, feeling my legs and my heart pumping, and having to be alert, literally got me rolling.


At the end of January I started a new job, have been posting on my blog, and organizing meetings with other cyclists and like-minded people. I am building myself a network. And even though I’ve known all along that life is change, I now know how to shift gears accordingly, roll and go with the flow, or pedal up that hill slowly but steadily. Falling and not getting back up is not an option anymore.

 
Learned: What goes up has to come down. What comes down will go up again.

Wish I would have listened to my guts and kicked myself in the butt earlier.

What question do you wish I would have asked you? "Movie and wine date next week?"

Oh my gosh, that sounds divine.  Makes me want to hop on a flying bicycle for a visit!

Be sure to check out Wiebke's blog Berlin by Bike for more of her adventures in community and cycles. Thank you Wiebke!  

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