“What – you’ve never heard someone make trumpet sounds out of the side of their mouth before?” She said with an accusing tone.
“Um…no” I answered – and then smiled and went back to working on my writing.
However at this point I was distracted with thoughts of the silly Lisa Lubin and her trumpet sounds at midnight. We both sat in our Berlin apartment working on our laptops into the wee hours of the night – but for once – I wasn’t alone. I had Lisa – and her trumpet noises.
Recently I’ve thought a lot about how 6 years of travel and nomadic living has changed me. One of the things that sticks out to me is that when I’m on the move I live more than ever inside my head and often don’t have many opportunities to really talk to people. Sure – I talk to people every day – but it’s the general niceties that are always exchanged when you travel with a group or meet someone traveling. It just scratches the surface – but it’s nothing that meaningful. It doesn’t challenge me necessarily, give me a real outlet, nor does it teach me things about myself – it’s just the basics. I do really miss having close friends to talk to and have meaningful exchanges and laughs – the kind where you really feel like you can say and do anything and you will be accepted because of your long-standing friendship. Often if I do get to experience the joy of spending time with friends – but it’s short lived – and we barely have time to really connect again beyond the basics before I race off somewhere else.
My Go with Oh Living la Vida Local experiment was fun on many levels. It was nice to stay put in one place for a month, it was fun to have a kitchen and a place to call ‘home’, it was fun to learn the transportation system and the idiosyncrasies of German grocery stores and the weird hours they keep – but most of all it was fun to live and travel with a girlfriend for an entire month.
I met Lisa 4 years ago when I heard her interviewed on the Amateur Traveler Podcast – and after hearing her story which was scarily similar to mine – I knew I had to meet her. I asked Chris Christensen for her contact info and reached out via email. We became fast friends with lots in common. In fact Lisa was probably one of my first friends in this travel writing/media industry along with Chris Christensen and Craig Martin of Indie Travel Podcast. Over the last 4 years we have worked on many projects together with Meet Plan Go, Navigate Media Group, she introduced me to couchsurfing, and I even went to visit her in her home base in Chicago on a wintery weekend.
Even though we already knew each other and knew have lots of things in common – we both used the time to re-connect, learn from each other, and just simply have fun. Just having her around made me more likely to explore on days where I felt exhausted or lazy. She’s always looking for the unique food finds and interesting neighborhoods – so I would often be inspired by her and tag along to see what new things she could show me.
She was also the person who made me eat well – she cooked dinner on a number of occasions and I took my standard role of playing sous chef and cleaning up. We even held 2 different dinner parties (as part of our Go with Oh Experiment), had movie nights, and went out together to explore our neighborhood, local restaurants, and markets.
I had forgotten what it was like to have a girlfriend around and from a personal standpoint it helped me become somewhat normal again – forcing me out of my own solo world, which I’m entrenched in when I travel. We discussed relationships, and watched girlie movies, and spent hours watching silly Youtube videos. It was also great to have someone around who understands this weird digital business we are in. I think our most common conversation always started with one of us yelling at each other from other room with “Do you know how to….” We both learned much from each other!
But mainly I learned how to be a girlfriend again and consider someone else’s needs and desires before I always dive head first into my own – something I haven’t had to do for a while. Lisa reminded me that being silly was ok – and necessary. So as much as this project was about travel and exploring Berlin for me – it was also about learning to get along and form a friendship again. Six years on the road primarily solo has taken it’s toll on me and sometimes I forget how much until someone else comes into my life for a while.
During my stay in Berlin I was a guest of Go with Oh who furnished my apartment in Friedrichshain. However all of the opinions expressed here are my own.