I've been living in Berlin for almost three years now. I guess I didn't have a clue I'd be living in Europe for an extended period of time, let alone in Berlin. In fact, when I first got this job, I had no clue that Berlin would be such a cool place to live in. So since September 2012, I have been enjoying my time here. However, I have to say, that recently, sometimes I find myself thinking that I might be getting too old for Berlin. Here's why.
The other day, my partner and I went to see an improv comedy troupe perform in a small theatre. Gosh, the audience felt so young, way younger than me. Or at least, how they behaved. How they dressed. So hipster. And I felt a little out of place. I felt out of place with all the folks wearing faded and second-hand clothing, nursing a beer, and exhibiting a luxurious growth of non-maintained forest of a beard, paired with a gynormous man bun haircut. Sometimes, I feel like I am in a different planet, and I rush back to the comfort and familiarity of the neighborhoods I am more used to.
And on yet another day, I was in a Sunday flea market together with three other people. Two friends wanted to browse and shop around, and my partner and I opted to tag along. I was not having fun, I should say. All I saw was junk, and it was so bizarre that you have this huge swath of middle-class twenty-somethings actually browsing and seeing whether they would want to wear this pair of really worn-out boots, or this very crinkled and disgusting skirt, or this old stinky jacket. I just didn't get that.
See, there is a part of me that associates junk with the poor. If you have not a lot of money, then you have no choice but to wear these things. And yet you see these affluent Millenials who actually actively seek out these second-hand clothing and house accessories (it's vintage to them after all). It was definitely a little cognitively dissonant.
Needless to say, I wasn't having fun at all when we were in the flea market, and so I opted to leave the group and go somewhere else on my own.
This makes me wonder: can I be a liberal and yet not be hipster? I don't need second-hand clothing to prove to the world that I am not conservative. I don't need to lead an alternative lifestyle to support socialism. Can I simply be who I am, a thirty-something professional and academic, who likes to enjoy classical music and nice restaurants and traveling every now and then? I live and let live. I don't mind if you wear vintage clothing and have a horrible haircut. Just don't make me do it.