Quite some time ago, I walked down Michigan avenue, the nose frozen, my hands very dry, but so alive. Chicago welcomed me and I felt good being there, despite the cold, despite the wind.

A little less time ago, I walked down Unter den Linden, the sun shining on my face, my heart beating fast as the excitement of starting a new chapter in life kept me on an artificial high.

Not that long ago, the streets of Berlin turned into grey menacing highways to hell.

I traded the streets of Berlin for the Streets of Paris but the rue de Rivoli wasn’t any less menacing than Leipziger Straße.

A cigarette on my lips, my hands in my coat pocket, standing on a hill in parc montsouris, letting the cold autumn air hit me, I wondered how I could go on.

A lot of jazz and whisky later, I found myself back in Berlin. The way to the hospital becoming all too familiar.

It’s a bleak grey period (and one that continues), when I only spend a second thinking about it.

When I take a minute though, these are all things I have experienced and enjoyed during that time:

Laughter with friends. Sunrises. Sundowns. Good food. Good wine. Substantial conversations with new friends. Great walks around the city. Good art. Good music. Good movies. Libraries that made me feel at home. Having someone care about me enough to help me get help. Pushing through the pain and achieving most of my goals despite or perhaps because of everything so terribly wrong at that time. Watching plays. Reading plays. Reading novels. Reading short stories. Reading essays. Learning a bit of Dutch. Writing. Decorating my room. Cycling through the city. Standing on a bridge, watching the river glide gracefully downstream. Climbing church towers and enjoying the view. Escaping to the countryside and enjoying a hike. Feeling the warm, soft skin of a lover on mine. Playing golf. Playing tennis. Being taught about Cricket. Finding out more about myself through therapy. Having the privilege to help the law firm that has hired me to move into its new offices. Having the privilege to work with the people I work with. Freeing myself from moral restraints. The colour of trees in autumn. The crispness of the cold air in the winter. Having great neighbours you can have tea with. Visiting friends in distant cities and making new friends while being there. Breathing slowly. Singing Jacques Brel really loudly. Doing a one-man show of Hamlet for no one else but me. Travelling. Kissing. Smelling spices. Cooking with those spices. Admiring structure, then breaking it and rearranging it. Reading the news. Smiling at beautiful architecture. Smiling at beautiful landscapes. Smelling flowers. Tasting cakes. Feeling, despite everything, free.

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