Cover photo

Riding home for Christmas

I'm sitting on a train, riding home for Christmas (not driving like in the famous song cause I am a public transport gal).

I'm surrounded by strangers in a compartment of 6. The smell of one of their sandwiches lingers in the air. There are suitcases and bags everywhere. Outside, the landscape of Northeast Germany passes by, an endless stream of fields and forests, interrupted only by the occasional small village. Yesterday's storm has left its mark—fields under water, trees on the ground. Once in a while, a gush of wind hits the train, shaking it right and left on its tracks.

It's as good a place as any to reflect a little on the year.

Everyone around me is on their phones; their gaze focused on the small shining lights of their screens. Their ears are plugged. It's not the kind of crowd to have a conversation with.

And yet, some of the interactions I've observed while on the train give me hope that maybe things aren't as bad.

People are helping each other find space for their baggage, joining forces in lifting them up the trays. A woman spilled her coffee. Others were quick to hand tissues. Someone lost their hat while walking out; another person ran after them to hand it over. They wish each other happy holidays as they walk out.

It's these small acts of kindness that make me feel better about life as a whole. There are are definitely aspects of Social Media fostering self-centeredness, and the mindset of "I owe no one anything", is en vogue. Being self-centered though isn't a good base for creating communities, or even having great relationships with others as there's always an element of compromise and sacrifice involved.

I hope that also outside of Christmas season, where people are feeling merry, we can sustain just being nice to others - and - more importantly, without making that yet another way to boast about ourselves online.

Being kind costs nothing.

Christmas is a time where everyone goes to spend quality time with their family. And with their partners. Many of my single friends have to face the questions from aunties about when they are going to get married.

I don't have that problem.

My mum told me the other day pretty straight-out that I should not get married. Her argumentation was based on how marriage at least in this country is structured in a way to incentivize well-earning husbands, and stay-at-home wives.

She wants me to do better than that. To be with someone able to compromise, and share things like chores.

I'm quite far from that.

With the exception of situationships, which I've been in plenty of over the past years - cause does anyone still want to commit to anything these days?! -I've been very single.

So much so that I'm considering getting a cat and just becoming the final boss: Cat Lady.

My last situationship ended a few days ago.

I ended it to be more precise. It was draining me and I had nothing more to give. Plus it's not like the signs hadn't been there. Eventually I felt more like the convenient woman than actually being a priority ever. The one to arrange her schedule to fit his, the one to fly across Oceans, to then wake up in hotel rooms alone because he couldn't stay.

Gals, don't be like me (and guys also don't).

If he only lets you know that he's on paper still married, and has a kid when you are sitting in his car, after flying 14 hours to go see him and sitting through one of those boring a*s VC dinners pretending to be sociable and not totally exhausted; that's a no-go. I should have totally just booked the next flight and left.

I didn't.

We live and learn.

It's getting darker outside, plunging us all into darkness.

The train continues moving towards its destination.

I'm getting closer to home.

No one there knows about my situationship. And I wouldn't want them to either. I have a tendency to recycle my emotional garbage otherwise. This is something I have to deal with by putting it on internet strangers - and my good friends.

Even though it might have been painful, it is still a highlight of the year for me. Moving on from something that held me down.

Leaving the romantic life aside, the year has been pretty good.

I found many new friends in the city I moved to, I enjoyed countless outdoor summer events, I got lost multiple times when walking through new neighbourhoods.

I got to spend time in museums in more than 4 countries, admiring local artists, and I caught up with lots of amazing friends all over the world. I showed my youngest siblings around in my new town, and snuck them into an outdoor movie night. We laughed a lot.

I also read lots of books, and not just for myself anymore, but now also to 2 groups of preschool kids. There's something very rewarding about fostering kids curiosity and interest in books.

And I started writing more of my own thoughts down instead of just crypto stuff. That might actually be the biggest step forward.

Ever since writing became most of my job, I've struggled keeping my personal writing up. Often, I also wonder, if I actually have anything to offer. I don't have the secret formula to success, nor am I doing funny dances on TikTok. I'm not a billionaire either.

Just a gal having a lot of niche interest, and thoughts in her head.

But then, if only one person feels inspired by something I read, that's enough for me. If one person goes out, and ponders a question I posed, I think that's all I need to continue.

Writing for me is also therapy.

So, on that note, even though I've only written here on Paragraph for a month, I've had some of the best reactions, and interactions with others based on posts. To the person reading this, thank you! đź’š

I appreciate you taking the time to read through my ramblings in a world that's full of more immediate dopamine hits.

I hope that your Christmas rides home are also full of displays of human kindness, that you get to spend quality time with your loved ones, and share a lot of laughter.

May the scent of baked cookies fill your home, and the only tears you cry be those of happiness. May you marvel at Christmas lights, lighting up the city in warm, welcoming shimmer.

The announcer on the train calls out the next stop.

The next stop is where I get off.

Time to pack my stuff together.

I can already see the blinking lights of the cranes of Hamburg's port outside.

Merry Christmas!

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