Hopes for Düsseldorf

Will I find my people in this city?

We're moving to Düsseldorf tomorrow.

The state of our apartment in Berlin is such that there's no mattress to even sleep on last night. Charlane contracted Covid and is sleeping on our kid's playmat alone in our room. Me? I'm sleeping in our van in the parking lot. Reflecting on my hopes for Düsseldorf.

Well, to be accurate, it's not Düsseldorf that I have hopes for but us. My wife, our kid, our poodle, and me.

Moving is fun and isn't at the same time. It's quite a lot of work. It's uncertain. It took time to decide but we've decided, made plans, and here we are, D-1.

The 'why' I've already covered in a recent post. Read that.

The 'what hopefully happens now' is what I want to reflect on in this one.

I'll reflect from my point of view only and not on behalf of Charlane or our kid. Just seems more honest.

So... what I hope happens now is that we start feeling more at home. I know, I said I would talk from my point of view and proceeded to speak in terms of "we"...

It's because if Charlane OR Charlotte do not like living in Düsseldorf, I know I cannot like it either. They're part of the package for how I feel about a place. If they don't like a restaurant after we seat around the table, even if I had my eyes on something on the menu, I would insist we leave.

Now that we understand each other, let me try and unpack what I mean by "start feeling more at home".

Why "start"? Didn't you feel at home in Berlin? Or Singapore?

Well... good question. No. I've never felt at home anywhere. Not in Singapore where I was born and raised for 3 decades. Not in Berlin where I moved to.

Okay, so what does it mean to feel at home?

I think I would feel at home if I have 1 or 2 groups of friends with whom I hang out with on a weekly basis, and who I don't think will be leaving the city we live in any time in the next 5 years.

I would also feel at home if people around me didn't run much or walk very fast. Like in Helsinki. I need that kind of constant reminder to slow down. I think then I'll eventually become one of them.

If people were nice and willing to chat when the socialising cues have been given. And happy to leave you alone when the opposite is true.

I would probably not feel at home if my literal home was decorated with moving out in mind. That's been my life for the last 4 years since we moved out of Singapore to Germany and I'm tired of that kind of subtle limbo. I want my home to have sharp knives, cake tins, a dedicated amazing-childhood-memories factory of an area in the living room for Charlotte, a good sound system, hardwood table(s), aroma diffusers...

... but I digress because so much of that whole paragraph can be achieved independent of Düsseldorf.

Oh, but wait, if the external environment that my home is in isn't great, I would not be confident to invest in making my interior fit for a decade of good living. So that interior feeling like home is dependent on the exterior feeling like so first.

Let's wrap this up in a sentence. My hope for Düsseldorf -- singular -- is that the streets, the cafes, the restaurants, the buildings, the train stops, the coworking spaces, the Spätis, the airport, make me feel like I'm among my people. And in so being, inspire me to make my home feel like one.

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