Almost-hindsight is 20/20


The “Rainbow Bookshop” #supportyourlocalbookstore

You know the saying “You never miss the water until it’s gone”? I am an overachiever when it comes to that. I completely disregard the water until the moment someone indicates it might in a soon future disappear. Then I discover my affection for the water, suddenly I realize I am, actually, the President of the Water Lovers Fanclub.

For more than three years, I nursed my aversion toward Dizzeldorf. Too crowded, takes forever to get anywhere. My part of town? Full of bad-style-pubs, all of my social contacts live in other parts of the city.

Then the decision that my workplace and I will move to Hamburg was made. Not exactly at the same time but pretty close to it, my eyes opened to the fact that Düsseldorf has one of the best airports in Germany. That my hood has a wonderful bookshop, I am a regular at the bulk store, I can walk to the farmer’s market, and the cafés are wonderfully hipster. Did I mention the library that’s around the corner? The guy at the whole food store chats with me, the traditional Rhineland bakery staff is definitely above average friendly. The local church offers very extraordinary services and activities. My favorite breakfast place is run by Persians who make the best müsli-yoghurt-mix. When I go to Gill’s, my preferred bar, the owner bends over backwards with delight, calling, “Nah, it’s not too full, there’s always a seat for you” and makes room. And while I still feel I am cycling on a highway most of the time, I can get most places by bike in the city.


Kiefernstraße in my hood, known for its art on the houses


From my balcony, despite living in the city, I look out on a large grassed area with a playground and playing field. On weekends, I wake from children’s sounds and the sun that rises in the east right outside my window. When I do the dishes in the kitchen, I watch dads playing football with their kids. And my apartment is part of a housing cooperative, meaning it has a rent at a reasonable price while generating a 4 % (!) dividend each year. When I applied for the apartment, they told me I’d get it because “you’re new in town and need a place”. When you stroll through the side streets – I even have two special favorite streets -, you can look at the pretty old builings and peer into the windows at the beautiful interiors.

For years, I could never actually notice these things. You are probably reading this, wondering who this is and what they’ve done with Helen. Don’t worry, I still think this place is too crowded, there are too many cars, no good party venues, you can never be alone and it just is too far from most of my friends and family. It’s not like I wanna grow old here.

This is my Last Christmas in this apartment, this city, probably this federal state. But when people ask me now if I am “super psyched to finally leave”, I shrug waveringly. As soon as you only threaten to shut off that water tap…


In other news: my friend Angelina visited me on the way to her parents. We went to the hipster cafe of course.


Family and friends


Part of the family reunion was going on a tour of the village and I was introduced to this charming chapel that I’ve driven past 45900 times but never been inside

Last weekend, I got to meet lots of previously to me unknown family – we had the big cousin reunion. I actually started going around and taking notes that I later put together in a family tree. Did you know there is really great freeware for such things? I could hardly stop making genealogies, it’s really fun (maybe only if you’re a historian). Now I know that the names Felix, Philipp and Erik are popular among my kin.

Sunday and Monday I spent at my parents’ place: with my own magazine, my cat and finding out my parents attic staircase is from Skellefteå. Last photo: angels in front of the World War Memorial that also lists my great-grandpa Heinrich.

After a free Monday, I was back at work today where the hours just fly by – is it just me or is time zooming on by?! Today as also the day my dear friend Bianca and her boyfriend Francesco were in town! We did some fragmented hanging out (due to meetings and work on my part) but we did manage to eat lunch together, visit the Japanese temple and see my apartment. And we’ll meet again in only 3 and a half weeks – I have finally booked flights to Stockholm. I hope some day I will learn to book earlier. That will be the day I’ll suddenly have much more money left, too.


Home away from home


My dear friend Bianca moved into a gorgeous apartment.

Some people say, „Home is where your wifi connects automatically“. I believe that is not completely untrue and it is one of the indications that Stockholm is some kind of home to me (even if I have not yet quite worked out in which way.)

The last days in the capital were so nice, my heart ached to be leaving. Even if the times when I would return to Germany and be depressed for days are over (thank God…) at least for now, it is hard to go when you have the most wonderful, inspiring and hospitable friends to leave. Although I still love Stockholm for the city it is, the most important pull factor is definitely the company of these people. I wish we could still spontaneously go to the movies together, drop by for tea or just hang out doing nothing.

My way back to Dizzel was disastrous. It started well with a 50% sale on Elsa Beskow Christmas ornaments at the airport but then the plane was delayed, the connecting flight in Copenhagen unsure, when I finally had made it, it took 90 minutes to get out of the plane, to the baggage and then to the next train. In the end, I arrived at home past 1. And yes, I worked today. Actually, work was tumultuous this morning, too. My co-worker is still on holiday and our student assistant was struggling with unannounced window cleaners, nonfunctioning computers and a postage meter that would not print just today when we have to send out 600 letters. But oh well, we’ve survived that, too.