I guess it’s pretty hard to describe. A feeling that lives only in outer space with the moon and the stars. Berlin feels…interstellar. Or maybe just stellar. Indeed it has a gravity all its own, its magnetic field attracting beings who are simply not of this world. Those beings who are unique, and not just for unique’s sake. Truly, deeply unique. So open and dedicated to their cornucopia of art forms that they are somewhat beyond this earthly chaos. Nothing could stop them from being the person they were born to be. To live the fantasy we all (perhaps) dream of living.

And I can honestly say at first it felt a bit intimidating. I’m open…but am I that open? I’m free spirited…but am I that free spirited? I felt myself clamming up and shying away from these strange new people who seemed to stare directly into my soul. After all, my whole life has been a series of moments that make me feel a bit unwelcome. Sometimes unwelcome in society, sometimes unwelcome in my own skin. Here I was being welcomed fully and to my surprise it didn’t feel natural. As if every layer I’ve created to insulate myself from the outside world was mysteriously absent, and I stood there naked and defenseless.

I ask myself what that feeling is, that itch that tells me no one is accepting each other for who they truly are. That we go through each day barely scratching the surface, avoiding the discomfort of diving deeper. Perhaps most people don’t experience this sensation in the same way I do, but even when I am myself, most of the time I get treated like I should be someone else. Like I should rethink myself, even if it’s just a tiny portion. If I make a concession, perhaps for work or family, the next concession is easier to justify. Soon enough I’m putting on someone else’s shoes before I walk out the door, living only to appease the status quo, trying my best not to upset the balance, perpetually walking on eggshells.

In Berlin I found something different. Really, truly different. It may sound trivial to some, but it is perhaps my most profound discovery; I found acceptance. Acceptance in its purest form: unadulterated, unfiltered, raw. Every cultural, racial, gender oriented, societally imposed line drawn to separate us from one another is conspicuously absent in Berlin. I’m just as likely to dance next to a 60 year old man for an hour as I am to dance with some hip kids from Portugal. Both will greet me with the same warm heart. Both will look me in the eye when I speak. Both will give me space to dance if it’s clear talking would be better reserved for the couch.

I could go on about each club I visited (there were many), I could make a laundry list of every restaurant I ate at, every profound conversation I had, but that would be dramatically missing the point. The point is much more simple: when everyone is allowed to be themselves, in turn they expect nothing less of the person beside them. And once you get used to being yourself and speaking only to people who are used to being themselves, your old life starts to feel a bit duller. A craving for the cosmic interplay forever buried beneath your skin.

After all, once you’ve experienced the infinite alongside gentle strangers who make strangeness feel less strange, foreignness less foreign, age undefinable, where do you go from there? With deep, heartfelt stares, I fell in love with so many people in Berlin. Just for a brief moment, they accepted me and I them. And really that’s enough. It’s not about the drugs. It’s not about the hedonism. It’s not about the thumping kicks, the 3 day long parties, the most inventive clubs and all the sexy Europeans populating them. Well, maybe it is. but I’d trade it all for the chance to see everyone around me for the person they truly are. The person they were born to be.

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