That right level of “alternative” – or the move to freedom

This weekend I moved out from one of Magdeburg’s depressing LEGO-block buildings. One of those with exterior of white tiles making it more look like a huge bathroom turned outside in than anything else. My new living quarters are situated in an area much more to my liking. Even with the dirty yellow colour of my house it is truly a lovely place. Living on the top floor my room overlooks a huge park filled with people reading, kids playing, people drinking coffee. My room is larger, lighter – liveable. When I felt cramped in my last place I feel free in this new place. Every evening the pink sun has shone into the windows displaying a beautiful sky above the tree tops of the park and the rooftops on the other side. The house is one of many “altbau” (old buildings) that constitute the majority of the buildings in the area. Walking around is no longer exclusively the transport between one area to another the walk in itself has once again become the purpose, not the means. 

While the buildings help provide that calm, relaxed, family friendly feeling, the people in this area gives another deeper feeling to the place. Young people with dreads, baggy “arty” pants and piercings is alternated with old ladies with dogs and fathers in their thirties roaming around with three or so kids on their shoulders. Having spend some time in Kreutzberg, Berlin, where the alternative lifestyle often means liberal drug views, graffiti and falling apart buildings, strict veganism, sexual ambiguity, yoga as the only valid “sport/religion”. A place that to my eyes seems to have become so “liberal” that some of the freedom has been removed: If you are not one of us you are against us – is the perhaps unfair and definitely subjective feeling I repeatedly got there. Going to Kreutzberg and the alternative side in Berlin is a wonderful experience as a tourist, but I am happy that it is not the environment that frames my everyday life.

Here instead I get another feeling. While the same environment can to a degree be found around the place: small shops with handmade art and clothes, food made from scratch, a rainbow coloured bench and in my eyes maybe just a few too many yoga-places, there is at the same time a complete different feeling – I feel like I can belong here. When you order “handmade” breakfast you get bacon, sausage and a range of products from “corporate giants” (read Nutella). With the exception of a few houses with a few lines scribbled down on them the buildings are beautiful, clean, renovated and fresh. They are not leftovers from a time when these old buildings had to be “saved” and now just fall apart because no one can afford to actually save them. 

Even though I have been in this city for months this move makes it feel like I am on vacation. The radical difference between these different regions in the city gives a fresh feeling to the life I currently lead here. I can easily get my Bio-food, let my artistic side blossom in one of the many cafes and at the same time my conservative side with love for cleanliness and comfort can be satisfied. 

However, even though moving to a more homely area and a nicer room fills me with great satisfaction and feelings of freedom, the best part was probably to sleep on a proper bed after months of nightly horror on what Studentenwerk calls “a bed”. Yesterday my mother and I finished some of the most fundamental parts of my room. Spontaneously we bought a mattress and ribs for the bed that the day before had stood like an empty skeleton in the room. Both inviting and impossible at the same time. Smiling to myself I made the analogy to men. Inviting, impossible and merely the frames of their person visible. But that is a topic for another day. 

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