I am a Berliner.
While a singular, first encounter may set the tone for an experience, it’s a series of encounters that ultimately composes a symphony of revelation.
After having run with the masses during today’s Marathon, I have a new definition of what it means to be a Berliner. I’d recently been told that merely living in Berlin does not necessarily warrant Berliner status. That to be from Berlin you must have been born and raised and have shed sweat and tears on its ground.
Apparently, it’s not like in New York, say, where you put in a year’s time, wear a little more black and drop your sidewalk smiling habit, and can proclaim yourself a New Yorker. After today’s international affair, though, I beg to differ. These aforementioned masses—the many Danes, the Scots, the Brazilians, the Japanese, die Welt—took Berlin in stride this morning. Everyone trod upon historically-laden land with surprising finesse and good humor. While it’s possible that this sort of merry bonding is characteristic of these Marathon events, I can’t help but think Berlin (and the absolutely fantastic weather we had here today) contributed to the good vibrations. It’s a city with a history that everyone, pretty much no matter where they come from, can connect to, reference, or feel something about. And in that sense, I also think it is like New York. Akin. Not at all a twin city, but similarly revered. And in this shared similarity—the city’s international lure—I wish to alter this hearsay about Berlinership.
Today I ran through familiar parts of the city and felt proud to recognize my surroundings. I didn’t know the people before, behind, or beside me, but I knew where I was, what I was doing and why I was doing it: I was claiming myself, my ability and my place. Now, wherever you make that happen, is a place you can call your own. Today, I’m a Berliner.
Encounter. Engage. Experience.