The worst part of leaving is packing. Last semester, when I left Baltimore, I was so sad while packing that I gave up, bought a bus ticket to New York, and went to go hang out with my friends for a week. I didn’t want to be alone in Baltimore, a city I love, with the end of all my memories, so I cut that end short and started making new memories. But eventually, I did have to go back to Baltimore to pack up my apartment. My mom was furious because by the time I got back, I only had couple of hours to pack. But, it was far more pleasant to rush to pack, to be fully focused on tossing clothes into boxes and pillows into the backseat, than to think about how something is over. That I would never see this room again, that my friends would never again pile onto my twin bed to try on all of my clothes until we found silly outfits for dinner, that I would never spend another long night reading at my desk and eating ramen, that the last time I would light the candles on my dresser was last week, and my posters would be taken down and someone else would have to hang maps and photos and band posters over my bed.
I haven’t really thought too much about time and space and how they are connected, it seems too obvious. Obviously spaces change, what my block in Berlin looks like now is nothing like what it looked twenty years ago, and drastically different from what it looked over seventy years ago. The people who inhabit it are different too; again all of that is just common sense.
But it doesn’t seem so obvious in my room. My room, where I have lived for the past three months, seems wholly mine. It’s white walls, orange blanket and orange drapes, the wooden table and desk and drawers, my clothes a rainbow mess across shelves, my backpack with my boots at the foot of my bed, which lies on the ground. I keep water bottles and the art books that I bought on my window sill. On my bedside table, German flashcards, spare change, and a couple of notebooks in a pile. I can’t imagine this room looking any different, but it will soon. It does as I pack it, and packing takes stunningly little time, considering how little I brought and am bringing with me.
When I come back to Berlin, I will not be coming back to this room. When I come back, most of the friends that I have made here will not be back here. Berlin as I have experienced it this semester is drastically different from the Berlin that I will experience in the future. Not that that future Berlin is in anyway worse or lesser than the Berlin that I have had this semester, but it will be different.
Some of my friends on the program are staying in Berlin for an extra week or so. Their families are coming to Germany, or they just want to extended being abroad a bit. All of them have expressed a little bit of worry over how different Berlin will feel when their friends are gone and they have to play tourist again with their family. I have to say, I’m pretty glad I’m going straight home. I don’t want to leave (I keep getting emotional while listening to “Change Your Ticket” by One Direction, which should be taken as an indication of my pitiful state and not an indication of my taste in music), but I’m glad my break from Berlin will be clean. My plane leaves from Tegel at 9:15. I will take an Uber to the airport at 5:00, my second cab ride in Berlin. Almost twenty-four hours later, I will arrive in New Orleans, though because of the weirdness of timezones, I will arrive there the same day, December 19th, but at 11pm.
Berlin, obviously, will continue on without me, without all of my friends. But the space we carved out for ourselves—every Wednesday at Madame Claude, early mornings running to class late from the tram, sprawled in Tiergaten eating strawberries, packing the Vietnamese restaurant, running along the Spree at midnight, pushing each other through museums, our feet dangling from beds too short to fit, Monday night complaints over dinner—those are leaving with us. Those places will never be quite the same without us.
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Ruth Marie Landry
<p>Ruth Marie Landry is a junior majoring in the Writing Seminars at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. On campus, she works in the library and as a tutor for high school students. She is also a DJ for WJHU (Johns Hopkins' only student radio station) and the co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of Vector Magazine, an online literary magazine. While growing up in New Orleans, she developed a love for spicy food, dancing to live music, and long, poorly planned road trips. Ruth enjoys big cities, Sphynx cats and Brutalist architecture.</p>