Sometimes, life sends us far away. Far away from routine and familiar faces, and closer to the adventure we crave in discovering something new. I’ve always said that if you’re going to fall in love, it’s best to fall in love with a city. Falling in love with a city tastes like too much wine on a crisp winter night. It’s the sight of finding sand in your purse after 2 weeks away. And it’s the feeling of leaving a little bit of your soul behind, because you’ll never be whole again. That’s what falling in love with a city is like.
A question I’ve struggled to answer internally my entire life is if it’s better to fall back into the arms of a past love or leap forward into the arms of a new one. How does one choose what city to visit? Do we choose nostalgia over ambition? Do we choose experience, or do we choose youth?
So this is for all the cities I’ve ever loved; to the question, that I still cannot answer.
My first true love
Everyone has that place that changed their life. For me, it was London. At 16-years-old I was a shy teenager with little fashion sense. I remember embarking on my own one morning to get a cappuccino at Cafe Nero in Kensington. It was the first time I felt a sense of independence. The city treated me well that day. I longed to be like the people and I longed for the city to accept me. London was the first city that loved me.
My nostalgic love
Moving to San Francisco at 23-years-old was one of my greatest life journeys. To this day, I can’t stay away from the city for too long. Whenever I see photos of her I am overcome with memories and feelings of nostalgia. I remember cold nights walking home from the train station because I was too cheap to fill up my gas tank, and always stopping for a beer at the corner liquor store. I remember my dog running on the beach every weekend. And I remember friends, parties, movies, my studio cottage, and my favorite coffee shops.
My unwanted love
Paris. The love she has for me is often unrequited. When I was 24-years-old I visited Paris. I was so excited to use the French that I studied for the last four years. As it turns out, Paris doesn’t care if you can speak French. She stole my credit cards and my driver’s license and never felt apologetic. But as rude and as uncanny as I found her, I still have that nagging feeling of Paree; cute cafes on a spring day, getting in my morning run over The Louvre, and living off macarons, wine, and cheese. Paris is the city I hate to love.
My older love
Lisbon is my Mr. Big; older, mature, mysterious, protective. I visited Lisbon in 2013 when I was 25-years-old and my life has never been the same. I can’t remember the last time I saw so many people genuinely in love. Some of my favorite memories include ordering 15 bicas a day just to stay awake, drinking the most amazing wine, and laughing until my eyes watered and abs hurt. Lisbon’s love is a late night cocktail in a silk YSL dress and Jimmy Choo shoes. Running into him years later would be detrimental for any new lover.
There’s an immense amount of growth and independence you gain from taking your first solo trip as a female. I embarked on my first solo trip to Denmark when I was 28-years-old. Copenhagen is the city that makes me want to curl up on the couch, light a million candles, play my old records, and write for hours. It is the city that taught me to love myself before I loved any other, and taught me lessons in eating alone, laughing at myself, and getting lost.
My unexpected love
When I first came to Berlin at 28-years-old, I struggled to open up my heart because of my family’s history in Poland. That’s probably one of the most honest things I’ve ever written. It was a struggle. But Berlin became my unexpected, passionate, and gentle love. It showed me nothing but kindness and to this day I want to cry thinking about it. Berlin is the city you decide to do something crazy in. It’s the city you can be yourself in. And it’s the city that holds your hand through a movie and lets you rest your weary head upon its chest.
I am not sure I will ever be able to answer my question or choose between the past and the future. I can’t tell you if my next adventure will be somewhere new, or somewhere old. But maybe that’s the beauty of it…
Do you have all the feels for different cities too?