WHOOSH! 2015: blink and you’ll miss it.
I’d resigned from my job at the end of 2014, so from then on till I actually left it was smooth sailing. There was considerably less anguish and misery than the previous year, because the end was in sight. Leaving my job was the big event that defined my 2015. Almost everything else that happened resulted directly or indirectly from that.
In January, Qian emailed me. She’d heard I was leaving the WFC and we met up for a friendly coffee – the first of maybe about 30 more together that year. She quickly became one of my best friends.
I moved in January. After 16 happy months at Winzeldorfer Weg, I said goodbye to Irene – one of the best flatmates I’ve ever had – and my gigantic room in Eppendorf, and said hello to Eimsbüttel, Anja and her two cats. The felines were cute but I didn’t quite get along with their human.
Like most years, this was another year of holiday after holiday. I’m so privileged and lucky. In February I went to Naples on a spontaneous solo city trip. In March I went on one of my frequent visits to Emily‘s in Amsterdam. In April I went on an awesome trip in Istanbul. Less awesome was that my hitherto easy friendship with Hannah dissipated and by the time we got back to Hamburg we no longer spoke with each other. I still haven’t mustered up the emotional maturity to examine our falling out in detail. Not my proudest moment.
In April, exactly two years after my first ever solo work trip – as well as my first time in Africa – UN HABITAT meetings took me back to Nairobi for my final overseas work trip with the WFC. It was a fitting and poetic way to come full circle. I even stayed in the same house and had the same taxi driver. I did some of my best lobbying yet and left feeling like I’d worked hard and worked well – a rare and powerful feeling.
In May, David left Europe, but not before one final bike ride together and sampling Hamburg’s best brews and burgers. I headed south for a mini-Uppsala reunion on the occasion of Sandra‘s birthday, which also gave me the opportunity to visit Levi. He ended up bailing me out at the train station after yet another insufficient funds fiasco. The next day in Bonn I spoke in an external German-speaking meeting for the first time. Another professional and linguistic milestone.
At the end of May I left the WFC, feeling both intense relief and intense sadness. The regenerative cities file I handed over to Filippo. A new and unfamiliar phase was starting, and I solicited Jenny‘s guidance on changing careers. My job hunt began in earnest.
Newly (f)unemployed and with ample time on my hands, in June I journeyed south again to visit Jens in Mannheim. I also started experimenting with baking baguette. Qian and Thomas helped me prepare for a job interview with Interreg Baltic Sea, which turned me down.
In July, the demons of restlessness, loneliness and unproductivity started to stir. I began an intensive language course partly to stave them off and partly because it was high bloody time I improved my German. I was very lucky to have some good classmates and a truly great teacher in Regine. I made an effort to keep in touch with them after the course ended.
During the July heat wave I went on a physically punishing solo bike trip, logging 150 km in two days in 38-degree weather. Never again.
In August my flatmate wanted me out – she claimed financial reasons but it was actually because we didn’t get along. I was upset and annoyed but it ended up working out for the better. I faced my fear of weddings by attending Anna‘s. Then I visited my parents in Vancouver on account of their 40th anniversary. I brought my German books with me to escape the family stress and drama.
In September I moved again. I really lucked out and found a perfect shared flat and a superb flatmate in Annette. I was happy to be back in Barmbek, one of Hamburg’s more underrated districts. I was sad to finish the C1 German course; seeing and interacting with my classmates and teacher for five hours every day for two months created a sense of comforting familiarity and close-knittedness that reminded me of my PEP uni days. It had become the social network that replaced – albeit temporarily, and to a much lesser extent – the WFC family that I had left.
In October I went on another adventure, joining Logan and Jens in Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro and Croatia. It was such a treat to catch up and discuss everything under the sun with friends I liked and trusted. After the trip, I hosted a small Thanksgiving potluck. Janne came back from Fiji and we went jogging together again, like in our City Nord days. The job search continued to be fruitless. As I’d given myself till Christmas to find something, feelings of urgency and futility began to occupy me.
Something finally changed in November, when Interreg Baltic Sea offered me a job and a Malta NGO offered me an internship. Timing was tight. I sought Qian’s advice in making it work out. She had been more informed than anyone else on my week-to-week applications status. The entire month I spent studying for an external C1 German exam as well as a Canadian public service entrance exam in Brussels. Both went fairly well.
After the latter and in need of a break, in December I went to Amsterdam again. I rightly counted on Emily to provide a perfect balance of intellectual, emotional, silly, serious and relaxing, and equal measures of past, present and future. With nine days left before going to Canada for the holidays and painfully aware that these were my last days in Hamburg, I met up with as many friends, former classmates and former colleagues as possible.
I’m scared of goodbyes and I’m no good at them. But I had to do it to give myself closure after five years here. And it seemed like the grown-up thing – the right thing – to do. So that was the year that was!