Friday, November 24, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving: Be Thankful, Be Happy!

Blogging doesn't come as naturally anymore as it used to. First of all, I never had secrets, now I do. Then, I usually found something to complain about because that's what blogging is all about; now I have very few problems. None to be exact. My life hasn't changed much from when I thought negativity was the way forward, only now I changed the approach. So even though I live just as good of a life as then, I just don't find shit worth talking about. Nothing is bad anymore or at least it just doesn't bother me. My deep and emotional insights are happening less frequently because I finally live by what I preach. And writing about how grateful I am about my life and it's lessons just sounds like bragging, so I stop. However, it is precisely this gratitude that got me there. I see what it does in my life. It's more than positivity because positivity isn't 100% effective. But gratitude is. And so, give me a minute to tell you how realizing that I don't deserve a thing I have is why I wake up a happy bunny every day...

We've been through it, I didn't have the easiest ride in life. And we've also been through my attitude that every single failure to launch has just made the wings much stronger. Them wings are now tough as steel and it's just easier flying with a good set of wings. It makes perfect sense. Additionally, I no longer just fly from A to B but potentially to C or D if I can. Those great wings can take me anywhere, and I know that. But anywhere doesn't have to be a place. So once you forget the destination, and just soar a bit because it was hard to get up to the sky, life is sweet. It's fucking sweet. And here's the thing: those that can't look back at the great things that unfold at our sights while soaring without a rush to get anywhere are lost, literally lost. That's why the bird is the ultimate bird expressing freedom. Not having a destination and pressure to get there is freedom; realizing that one is lucky to be flying at all is gratitude; and gratitude and freedom can only lead to one thing: happiness!

I know I'm lucky and it's easy for me to say I'm lucky and happy because despite the challenges some God was very generous to me. I can now do one of two things: want more or accepting that I already hit the jackpot. Do I live a perfect life? No! I'm not even close to as lucky as some people around me, all my friends are abroad or are leaving me, I don't swim in money and I am obsessed with heartbreak. But it's not about what I have or had, I'm most thankful for being chill about it because Lord knows I wasn't always. Wanting more will stress me out and I frankly have no energy. I'm tired alright! But I can thank God or whoever is to blame for this and hope that it lasts. And curiously enough, since I started to feel grateful nothing bad has happened. And now that I have said that I need to elaborate because that isn't even true. Bad, bad things happened this year. Truly bad things! But, for some reason I just wasn't falling apart. Hey, I'll take it. I have no explanation but there's a chance that maybe I just knew it's all part of the journey and there's nothing I can do. So I got through it and now I just soar a bit longer.

Two weeks ago, I was falling apart. I was busy at work, an emotional mess after an incredible trip to Iceland and trying to process the last three months that didn't go as well as planned. I wrote my best friend from uni to check on him that day for some reason. I told him I was good, just a few things on my mind. And sure, I could indulge, but this time I decided to refrain. He replied to me with some words only a friend could whip up, and throughout the emotional reality of this week, that guy once more reminded me that true friendship is a pretty fucking great thing to have. A message, that's all it took. The same day, I had a talk with someone about the last three months and got a reaction I didn't expect. Old Sina would have bathed in the misery, hated the fact that both of these guys are either living in Scotland or moving to Australia next month or that all this shit happened altogether. Gratitude calls for another approach: accept and say thank you. It's not a given to have such friends, understanding and comfort in your life, so if it takes bullshit for you to see that, be grateful for the bullshit.

A friend of mine died this year. His parents changed my views about everything. He was born too early, almost didn't survive his first few days. But he did, and for 30 years his parents had a wonderful child. Now they have no child. It must hurt so much. And his mother found the strength to thank God she allowed her to have him for 30 years. He didn't die 30 years ago, he died now. His life was the gift. That's gratitude to the max. Not asking why, what could have been or how happy we would be if something had or hadn't happened. Just acceptance and gratitude. With this, fulfillment is guaranteed and it turns out that's all I need for happiness. I have everything I need: relative health, a paycheck, a purpose. And I have many, many more things I don't need but want: friends, love, an exciting life and a booze cabinet. The law of attraction brings us more of what we love. That's why Thanksgiving is important. Screw the food or the offensive history behind it. If you feel grateful today, you'll feel happy tomorrow...

Thursday, October 19, 2017

#Metoo: What it means and what we can do

Incredible to think that it took me until now to have all the words ready to comment on #metoo. The truth is, I don't think I will be able to. A series of words can't possibly express the emotions that are connected to potentially life-changing events. This issue certainly changed my life. And when I say change, I don't mean the good kind that is connected to progress. I would not have lived the life I did if I was a man and how could I ever find words to describe the scope of such an emotional and heartbreaking reality. It's like talking about love: most of us feel it but only in art we sometimes get to express it. Could a file or word  describe live? In the end, what is a picture, a poem or a blog going to say to make us understand love? A life of discrimination and being and feeling blamed for the shortcomings of a man just feels... bad! And so I can say: #metoo.

I have never shut up about the sexual harassment I have experienced. It didn't take the campaign for me to talk about it. What's new is that I now realize that what I had intended to just be criticism that could make things better, I was very often vilified. Behind my back I also believe there is a lot of thinking along the lines of "well, you asked for it, didn't you?". Nobody needs to tell me that's not ok. I know men would think that because why not? No human being likes to be wrong and reflecting on whether who we are is who we should be is an ability I haven't seen in many human beings in my life. What's scarier to me is my own understanding that I need to please a man. That he is better than me. He can do some things that I can't. And yes, I got that bad even though my daily actions don't mirror this sentiment. And I am not one of those people that can't self-reflect. I know it's incorrect. But since I'm alone in my reflection I know this thinking is there with not just a few, but a lot of women.

Sexual harassment and assault comes from one individual feeling superior to another. Throw in a little bit of disrespect and it's almost impossible not to experience it, whether as a victim or perpetrator. If as a man you have the chance to undermine a woman, and you have that chance a lot, you do it because you will easily get away with it. The question is what "getting away with it" entails. And for the first instance that is not the police or the man's family and friends, it's his victim. How many women believe it's their fault? How many women are paralyzed with the certainty that none of their actions will make a difference at all because they never have? Whose fault is that? On this day, the perpetrator of a sexual crime gets away with it because an entire society has had his victim believe that there is nothing she can do about it. Not on the small, not on the large scale. I never agreed, beating almost every guy that ever groped me or disrespected me. And even I, a self-proclaimed fighter, have felt taken advantage of sooooo many times. All of those times, including right now, I feel like I can't do anything about it.

For me, #metoo is about something else. Next to the obvious benefit of pointing out how big of a problem this stuff is, I was hoping that it makes women wake up. We don't talk about it, even amongst each other. Of course I've been told to not take crap from guys but I do it every day. With a movement like this, maybe we can start with ourselves and, like, stop doing that. It has actually empowered me to change the course on one of my relationships with a man. One I care about, yet one that deeply disrespected me. Hearing Amanpour say I should stop excusing why a man treats me the way he does makes me see. Even out of genuine care, I want to at least call out how disrespected I feel. It shouldn't matter if I can understand it or not and frankly I shouldn't need to understand. We're all our own person and to have respect for each other is a basic miss we see everywhere. When it happens between a man and a woman though the scope is much higher, the hurt a little deeper and the work we need to do a little tougher.

So what is it that needs to happen? Jail more men? Send them on workshops? Change our TV programming? Yo, it's so much more basic than that. It starts with the victim: stop being silent. Then we go to the people who have done wrong (and that's all of us. All of us!): Reflect. Everyone can change and the version of you that exists now is NOT the best you can be. If you make a mistake, repent. Apologize. Be strong and don't run. Apologize for God's sake. Acknowledge you made a mistake, it happens. And then, just like in school, stop making the mistake. You only fell from your bike so many times before you learned how to ride it. Why would learning how to be a respectful human being be any different? In fact, it fucking shouldn't be. You don't have time to learn, you need to know that right away. But men already know it; they just need to stop getting away with breaking the rules. So as much as I'd like to say #metoo is about empowering women, it's also making their lack of being a bitch when one needs to be painfully obvious. While we're at it, stop calling people bitches. I'm a bitch and I like it. Bitch meaning I do not take crap. So far, in society that attitude was not very popular. I don't care how we get to a society that believes that's a good thing but we have to. Men and women...

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Age, age, age: Am I "Young", Young or Old?

I'm 28 years old. Some people say that's young, and I agree. It might not be as young as 27, nevermind 17, but it's still not old. If the word "young" would be an adjective people were able to disconnect from a numerical value, it would mean having opportunities, not yet being OK with being boring and waking up every day thinking "today could be different from yesterday". Only when that is gone, and the ability to do all these things with your original hip, you may accept defeat: you're old! Many people I know seem to want to get old, popping kids left, right and center. For some reason, the simple life sounds appealing to them. And yeah, not even eight months ago I thought that's what I want to. But now I know: I'm too "young" to be old!!!

There's a fundamental difference between being young, "young" and old. Our grandmas will probably call us young as long as they live, for the mere fact we are youngER! And would I, at 28, ever consider myself old? Of course not, I'm youngER than the majority of my country, in fact, the old people and their electoral behavior are ruining my future. But: I, like my old friends, can equally no longer do whatever I want. I have responsibility, a much slower metabolism, and grey hair. Like, really, I'm almost entirely grey which obviously will be hidden under a thick layer of bleach for another 28 years at least. I might not be old, but I am also no longer young. I am only "young", and whether I use the two fingers on both hands in the air connotating quotation marks now strongly depends on who I talk to, and what I want for the rest of my life.

My favorite song right now, "Younger" by Senabo, told me I'm not getting any younger. Mate, I know. My uterus is aging with every day I drink wine instead of going to the gym. If I want children, I'm getting older. If I want to spend a year backpacking, I'm running out of time. If I want to perfect a certain sport, I'm ancient. Fortunately for me, none of these desires are essential to my happiness so I'm hella young. This glass of wine I drink occasionally is the essence of my happiness and since I'm neither a mother nor broke nor a professional athlete I'm holding a set of cards that's going to make me win. Because all the things one needs to feel young are available to me and I have no ambition to trade them in anytime soon.

So now we have sufficiently talked about why I'm happy I'm young and refuse to be called anything else, it's time to look reality in the face. I'm slowly fading away and in another 28 years I'll be nearing retirement and will almost have outlived my father's age. So it would be foolish not to think about the things left to achieve because not all of them are feasible anymore. I'm way past my old idea of having four children - a desire I only had because I never met a child. I'm a little bit too old for my romantic decisions if I want to try commitment at some point. And this lifestyle of wining and dining won't prevent cancer forever so it's time to listen to my body and take it to the spa and not the steak restaurant. But OK, I suppose it would be a little too much to expect death to loom. The truth is that the drug-addict artists are probably right when they say a short, exciting life got more to offer than a long and boring life. I plan to be exciting for a very long time so that 30 looming is just not that scary.

However, I now live in a town where the hottest place on the weekend is the playground, even among 20-somethings because they're all goddamn parents. If all people around you do a certain thing, not doing it starts feeling weird. That "thing" being procreation. I'm not participating and I seem to be the only one which I'm cool with. Now. But what happens in ten years when I'm the only one left who does not have a family? I mean now, that's more normal than people my age having one already, but I can't get away with it forever. One day I won't be young and then, my mother thinks, I'll be alone. Maybe she's right. Its unlikely the absence of children will make me lonely but the absence of somebody else, anybody, doing the same, might. So even if I feel "young" at 70, I won't be. The balance between seeing the number and feeling it is a hard to get right, and I don't know how well I'm doing right now... 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The End of the American Dream?

Is THIS what they meant in there in 1776?
August 2, 2005, was the day I had waited for my entire, not-so-long life. 16 years of age, I went through to the gate at Frankfurt International to get on a one-way flight to California. Sina, the aspiring Hollywood actress, was going to America, like all the other successful people. This was, well, not very long after the Nineties, so while it sounds ridiculous now, this is the perception we grew up with over in Germany: people over there make it to the big bucks from a "dishwasher" and I was going to be one of them. This was before graduating High School, twice, and university, twice, so dreaming was all there really was when making plans for the future. So I tried the American Dream, 12 years before Donald Trump became president.

I haven't seen many accounts, including from my friends who voted for this incapable man, that actually believe his DACA decision was a good one. He took a big, fat nail and rammed it into the coffin that held the American Dream of the Nineties. It's dead! Let's start with the notion that the American dream is only for "Americans" anyways, otherwise, he would not be President today. But now, even Americans are not allowed to dream in his country anymore because their parents came in pursuit of that American Dream. Americans will now lose their homes because their parents tried to make their lives better, but not in the way President Trump would envision it 30 years later. So pathetic and so sad - so much so that one has to wonder who actually still wants to try.

Sure, Americans love America, and they will continue to seek and find opportunities. But then I look at my life and those of the people around me here in the land that isn't hailed as the "land of opportunity" and I got to scratch my head: how is it not? The fact that I once left the continent to pursue opportunities is insane now. What would I be looking for today: working long hours, being exposed to gun crime in any side street of the country, paying s***tloads on a mediocre education (or even more on a decent one)? Yo, it does not sound like the land of opportunity to me. Hard work pays off they say in the States, yet from now on thousands of hard-working young people who were part of DACA could be deported, never mind that they will be evicted from their actual birthplaces. The vast, overwhelming majority of these people are successful employees, potentially paying taxes. It doesn't even make a little sense...

At the same time, I got two Masters degrees by working hard, not because I had money because I most certainly didn't. My country helped me with the funds while covering my insurance throughout the whole process. I had to get surgery twice in the last decade, went to college for four years and traveled the world, and yet now I sit on about 6,000 Euros debt that I can pay off in one go later this year when the government calls it in. All that without a guarantee I will ever pay taxes in Germany, and lookey lookey, I never have. I now work for one of the biggest companies in the world, arguably live a rather decent life considering I can go and do whatever I want, and unless God decides I should be sick and takes me out, I will live a life so much better than anyone would deserve. And all I did for it to be reality is being ridiculously lucky... and German!

Of course, in America, all these things are possible, too. The US is far from a crappy country, and I cant avoid the double standard of realizing I work for Americans, so thank you! However, me, the average, middle-class, ambitious woman, born without parents with a sack of gold, would not have what I do in the land of opportunity. I would never have gotten my opportunities. Sure, I had to go to extensive lengths to get them, but the payout from the insanity of going to Egypt or accepting jobs I didn't even know existed, but in my part of the world, more people are born with the freedom to sacrifice all this than in the US. We are far from achieving equality, even in Berlin I was discriminated against for being a woman, but we work on creating opportunities, even for refugees, rather than deporting our own. And for that alone, we win. The land of opportunity is no longer where we once sought it to be. And so I say as a German, a European: If you are looking for opportunities, try looking here!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Cheesy Truth: One Day is all it takes

I'm in awe of life sometimes. This girl tries hard to see every day for what it is: an opportunity. I have taken many, probably missed just as many or more, but I try, at least harder than most. Of course, daily life, distractions, stupidity and not being able to do what we know is the right decision for whatever reason is hard to avoid, right now I know that better than ever, but there are these days where we have done the right thing, and it completely changes everything. One of them for me was today, three years ago: the day I set off to Egypt, tears streaming down my face, nothing left to give, thoroughly NOT looking forward to any day that was to come. I changed my life. And it worked. In just one day. If life can do that, what else can it do?

How did this...
I find myself in the mindset of "It could happen, but it's unlikely" too often. Especially with potential that is put to the test, its easier to believe it's just not meant to be. But then I think back to this day, three years ago, when my life held no promise, and look at where I am now. Like literally, right now, I am sitting at my desk in my own home, fresh flowers next to me, a Yankee candle burning, a bottle of chilled Sauvignon in the fridge and Alexa playing ocean sounds. I have a job, and a great one at that, and I live in England like I had imagined it when I was 13 years old. With no effort whatsoever, for once, I was presented this life; I didn't even look for the job like the 300 others in my lifetime. I never actively tried to move to England despite thinking it'd be a nice idea before Brexit. And yet, if that day three days ago hadn't happened, I know for sure, I would not be sitting here right now.

These hard decisions are hard to make, as the name suggests. Pay offs are great though. And even the stuff that goes wrong, it takes us forward. Progress is the word. The decision to go to Egypt, the hardest one I ever had to make, was terrifying and didn't feel "good" a single day I was there. I kept remembering I had to get to a pretty shitty point in life to be forced down that route, but every day I also knew it would pay off. Eventually. I didn't think the pay off was going to be a news job at a tech giant, not even for a second, but I knew the day would come I'd say a big fat "Oh, that's why..." It would have been great to be given all these things that came out of that decision without having to make the experience itself, but that's not how it works. Those good things aren't half as good if they come easy, Id know.

...turn into this?
I recently had a conversation with a friend who is divorcing. Of course, neither of the two people would have married a few years ago if they'd considered divorce would be an option. But things happened, it didn't work out. I asked him why they didn't divorce earlier since things weren't right for a while, and the answer was expected: "I just never saw myself as a divorcee". That's why people get married, they want to be married. They love that person and don't plan to stop. But well, it happens... I never saw myself living in Egypt, writing the news for a robot to read out to people, or making poor romantic choices like I have in recent months. To all these scenarios I would have said "I would never..." this time three years ago. And the fact that I am now that person, because I had the courage to make hard decisions that went against what I thought I wanted, shows me that life can take you anywhere... if you let it. 

All these inspirational quotes, the cheesy lines, of how a day is enough to change a life, are true. My life very often didn't feel like my own because I had preconceived notions about what the words "my life" entail. I thought I'd have children, I thought I'd be a journalist covering refugees, I thought I'd live in the States. None of that has happened yet, and I sometimes walk through the tiny streets of Cambridge and think "wait, how the hell did this happen?" But it did, and I think it's legitimate to claim that's a weird, unpredictable outcome I never pursued. For the future, I learned that planning, promising and predicting is pointless. I want to be the girl that says "yes" to crazy, maybe stupid or extraordinary ideas, and the day I went to Egypt I prove I can be that girl. I got lucky, but only because I gave luck the chance to find me... 

Friday, August 4, 2017

I went for the "good guy" and only found a**holes

Although I share widely, I seldom share candidly. It's in the back of my mind all the time that I am very often hated, misunderstood, and judged based on things that are not even remotely in my heart. Everyone is, I definitely am. I never lie, but I try to portray my "impeccable" life just as much as the next girl does. And then there's heart business, and getting judged on that is too hard. So, the inevitable "I never care about anyone" is as much of a half-truth as the fact that I am always strong and can deal with anything. Of course, that's all true, I can and will, but sometimes even I don't want to be that person. So this blog very often became my outlet, made me feel better, and offered a glimpse into how a person feels, but it very rarely talked about what stuff I sincerely struggle with. Finding answers to the painful questions never had to happen that much, but when it does, like now, it becomes the space I make that happen. 

And now it's happened: after a very long time of not even a tiny dent in the road, my heart got a little crack. And - big surprise - a human being is the root cause. Once again, I met someone who vowed to be "good" - and was until the day I believed it. I am by no means stupid, give people little chance to hurt me but when I do, it's like they feel it and boom, something goes wrong. But they're the good kids, so it must be other circumstance... Now, this sounds soppy and it shouldn't because the vast majority of people are not disappointments. And even my disappointments are not due to the fact that they were disappointing people, including the latest one. But some way or another, despite trying to do exactly the opposite, these people tried hard to build my expectations, and the minute I caught myself having them is almost exactly the moment they change their mind. Despite large efforts to take care, I fail! I think that's a valiant effort not to end up being the stupid one but I still feel pretty damn stupid now.

A candid part I never shared because, well, it's one of the very rare things I deem too private, is that after my childhood, trusting individuals, especially the romantic ones, is not an easy feat. I've had many male friends in my life and although great people, many of them did not reassure my belief in "good men". Back in uni, my best friend was a d*** to women... but it was cool because he was a great guy to me. You see where the lines blur... In recent years I then found out that "good man" does not translate into "good partner": some wonderful people are bad boyfriends. A dishonest man isn't a bad man, I know that one much more than I care to admit. But I do believe I fear this too much. It's not a boycotting mechanism or the fact I am simply too damn bored and need some excitement; it's the fact that even good men are bad sometimes and that they, at some point, realize they owe me nothing, including a phone call or an apology. And then, looky looky, a good man turned into an asshole... 

This year, there's been three. After 11 years I gave up, finally, on a guy that easily convinced me he was a "good guy". I don't understand why they always try so hard to appear like one, then disrespect you (and others, in this case) without even feeling bad about it. For someone to blow it after all these years without so much as picking up the phone is, of course, a massive let down. The fact there is another girl that "meant nothing", is not that great either. Cool story! At least the time that happened to me before, the guy went on to date that girl for years. Easier said than done after solemnly believing - for over a decade - I'm looking at one of the good guys. And while this good guy is probably not a bad human being, his weakness and cowardice translated into me feeling like shit, and him not caring. Now, that's not a good guy, is it? But, but... he volunteers and buys people flowers...!! Big deal... Next! 

Number two this year I also knew for 8 years. Best guy in uni. Absolutely, what a nice guy. Great banter, nice times, never harmed so much as a fly. Well, I guess he didn't realize that ignoring me from one day to the other, probably because there was someone else on the scene, wouldn't make me feel too hot. Like, it's easy to get over obviously, but it's not a nice thing to come from a nice guy.
And then recently, a guy I know is 100% good who just doesn't believe it himself. I tried to make sure he remains the good guy and I still believe he is. Being a good guy just doesn't stop them from doing things I can't and won't believe they didn't know would hurt me, and possibly others. So, good guys do bad things, and when they truly didn't mean to do it only makes it harder to see them as the asshole that needs to be avoided. And I'm not better myself, because I, a self-proclaimed nice girl, have done some shitty things, and many, many people perceive me as a bad person (for which some have a legitimate reason, excluding everyone who claims to know me in Egypt...).

I try to look at why these people ended up hurting me, and usually, I don't see bad intentions, just weakness. I only recently learned that even an unintentional heartbreak is heartbreak, though. The good guy might not have tried to be bad, but he was and assuming that only provides an excuse. Excuse for what? Well, for the ones we love, and for our ego because who likes to claim they liked an asshole, right? I am so guilty of that: excusing the good guys who did not try to harm me. Maybe it's an attempt to wash myself clean because the easy assumption is just making me look too bad: they didn't care all along and got what they wanted/got too annoyed/found something better. That heartbreak, having been used or disrespected, feels worse than the honest one.

There is good and bad in all of us, and we all know that. Most of the time, my good guy turning into an asshole was coming from a place of weakness. Not going rogue shouldn't be too hard: in my cases here, NOT lying would have done it. Or maybe, NOT taking the relationship to a certain level when they are not in a place to do so, that would have been great. And if all else fails, at least owning up to the mistakes and maybe apologizing could have salvaged the situation. But the weak guys run, and don't confront. By the time the experience showed that the belief in such guys is misplaced, they are already in the heart at which point it's easier to tell ourselves they're great guys deep down... just not this once. It's a ridiculous farce I certainly need to drop. Right now, I'm still making excuses for the last bad "good guy"... and because he really isn't the bad guy, it will probably take a while to make me believe that!

Friday, July 21, 2017

My Ode to London

I was 11 years old when I first came to London. My parents were on the rocks, but we went, as a family, on a school trip with my sister's school class. Our city hotel had a large bathtub but was freezing, much like I would be in my four years as a Brit later on in life. I had had two, maybe three months of English class at school and thought I was setting off to see the world. That was before I knew that London was the world. Not just mine, but everyone's. At 11 years old, one does not understand that there are people from near and far that call one place their home although they were not born there. And I, myself, had never called a place I wasn't born at "home". Oh, how much life has changed. The world has become home to many, including me, and hence, London has now well and truly become "home".

I don't live in London and I spend too little time there to even remotely justify a "Londoner" tag. Maybe it is my safe distance that makes my heart blossom when my train rolls into Kings Cross. And of course, the downsides of living in an urban jungle are very much present to me so I can appreciate my current address. However, the feeling of having London "at the doorstep" means I have a friend ringing my bell. Everything I want, everything I am, everything I appreciate, has room in London. Unlike Cambridge, London has all kinds of people, not just the families. Unlike Cambridge, London makes me feel young. And unlike Cambridge, I will be able to drink an (extortionate) cocktail with complete strangers past the crazy hour of 11pm in London.

I thought I was ready for Cambridge and the life it holds. It turns out, I am not. After two years in the worst city in the world, every part of "Cambridge is a tranquil paradise" sounded good to me. Monday through Friday, that works out well for me. But when I finish a week like the one I'm about to finish, the prospect of checking out the two possibilities in Cambridge (lying in bed, doing nothing, or going to a tourist-filled market) just don't hold up. Escapism, to London. I mean, who does that? Yeah, me! I flee the boring life I have finally created and remind myself that I am exciting, able to do pretty fun things with my time and money and, most importantly, not weird for NOT being married and pregnant. Around here, only one place can make that happen...

A rather chunky early-20 Sina in the big city... 
Most people use their past experience to define a place, and I am no different. Other than my visit to London with my parents, there are moments in London that have genuinely made my life. At 18, Nina and I came back, stayed in a hostel, went partying with a footballer, and felt like we are global adults. That's a nice memory to have at that age. Being cool, in London, meant a big deal then. In 2011 my future-boyfriend Alastair came down to meet me in London after traveling 13 hours on a bus just to hang out. It was Christmas time, I was starting to be smitten, and placed my first kiss on the boy on platform 11 at Kings Cross. So many memories, some old, some young. Only a month ago I was sipping free prosecco and eating a free gin ice lolly with my German BFF at Covent Garden and won a purse. London loves me! Out of fear of these memories being tainted, my heartbroken self-canceled my trip to London in 2013 so that I would never have to be sad in London. And I managed that...

... until last week. I was walking through London, being affected by some things that have happened, and couldn't accept that my heart had suffered in London. The previous night I had been exceptionally happy, went to a West End show, walked through Soho which I love and felt, unlike so many times, rather comfortable. Then some shitty events changed the mood, and as soon as I had a chance, I left London and returned to where it was ok to feel like that. Not in London. London remains the place where I can forget. That city, hence, is a treasure where all coins are bright because I only filled the chest with the golden ones. It is because of this that I cannot commit to London long-term: life would eventually give me a black coin.

Even the sights still excite me...
Like now. This past week, the very few corners of Cambridge I already knew served as a reminder of how the very short time I have had here was misplaced. What Cambridge was for the last few months, it is no more. And additionally, Cambridge can't mend this for me right now. Dundee loved me, Cairo shattered me, Hanford supported me. My places have made me or destroyed me. And there is a place that has given me the chance to be whatever it is I want to be that day. This week, that's a person with friends who have ended up in London in great numbers. This week, that's a person who has something to get over. And London is full of these persons, and more. 200 languages spoken every day, and one of them is mine. And with that sheer number of opportunities, the chances of finding the escapism I usually need from the city are just as vast. I may end up bitter, alone and filled with darkness, like many a Londoner, but I like my chances...