Oh Hannover. Where do I begin? I feel as if this can be more of a ramble than a formulated expression of my last goodbye. When I arrived on the night October 14, 2014 I thought my life was about to change but not necessarily for the good. I left the ocean, something I loved dearly and inspired me everyday to live as the best version of myself. I felt detached and confused, but then I fell in love with you – Hannover.
The first couple months were hard as I noticed that no one smiles and no one says thank you when you hold the door open – you know typical European behavior. But, then I began to embrace to this different type of life, and I am glad that I did. Hannover you gave me a traditional and true German experience. I never heard English; life was slower and definitely not touristy like Hamburg, Berlin or Munich (what I call the Big Three).
I think on some deep level I connected and felt empathy for you. Growing up in Cleveland under a Ukrainian culture (who were immigrants to the united states in 1951) I was influenced by European culture. The Great and vibrant Cleveland became a shithole during my upbringing. Cleveland was this dying city that everyone wanted to leave, including myself. It took me three moves abroad to realize the wonderfulness of Cleveland.
So I think you, Hannover can empathize, as it seems that every German and asshole from the Big Three said, “Why the hell did you move to Hannover?” I seriously did not understand what people meant. Maybe this town experienced some “death” like Cleveland, and if it did Hannover is not like this anymore.
In the matter of a few kilometers I could walk in pristine royal gardens, drop my clothes onto the earth and swim nude with the locals at the FKK Maschee Park Lake, walk in a forest in Liste or pick strawberries at the Hemmingen “erdbeeren” fields. I could experience the Berlin hipster vibe near Café Glocksee, Faust and the Limmerstrasse or explore world-class history and architecture in Old Town. Hannover is the most bikeable town I’ve ever been in and that itself contributes to one’s quality of life.
Hannover, you are the City of Music and embrace everything from jazz to opera to techno. Hannover to me is a cross between Cleveland and Seattle – my two USA homes. But, it’s funny and ironic how life works out. I am realistic that my life may not have been “real” during this time abroad. I did not have to go to some job everyday but yet I created my own art through writing. We lived in the most notable building in Hannover known as the Leibnizhaus.
You see now that its my last day here, I can finally connect the dots. If things did not work out exactly the way it did, my experience would not have been what it was. If Josh never met Jurgen three agos, we never would have been here. If our landlord didn’t accept our cat, we would not have lived in Old Town let alone the Leibnizhaus. If the current tenants did not choose to stay longer we would not have had the exact apartment that overlooks the Holzmarkt square. Being in this location, I was able to create unique photographs for my vegan cookbook using various café tables and antique dishware that I bought at the Old Town’s Flohmarkt. It sounds ridiculous to the logical mind, but nothing that I created would have been possible without living in this town at the exact moment in time. If it happened two or three years ago, I don’t think my “ career maturity” was there yet.
It’s funny thinking back to when I lived in Surfer’s Paradise, Australia that I had the same experience and emotions there as I do here in Hannover. There I lived with three roommates on a beachfront apartment that overlooked the ocean. In Australia, the ocean put me to sleep, and was my alarm clock in the morning. Here in Hannover’s Old Town, the four Old Town church bells wake me up every morning. It’s beautiful. It’s magical. It’s real.
But, someone with strong intuition said that I would become more spiritual on my journey abroad. And you know what, she was right. The nature and the people who I met along the way enhanced my life and my mindset. The many cafes inspired my creativity and yes the techno clubs allowed me to embrace this part of my personality without judgment.
I’m not sure why life has put me in these places, but I do know that it is a combination of fate and my love for travel. Learning about your history Hannover has made me thankful for living here. One thing I laughed about because I have interests in witches is that I discovered Hannover was a neutral town and did not like to play into witch trials unlike other towns like Wurzburg. Twenty-seven witches were killed in Hannover of which 26 were women. Yes people died or burned at the stakes, but its amazing yet intriguing to live somewhere that has such deep rooted history and is a middle-of-the-road type of place because that is who I am and who I became more of – an in the middle person who does not identify with one extreme label. There is something special about Hannover even with its history of being ruled by France and England’s King George IV and having 90% of the city bombed during WWII, Hannover experienced it all.
But what is most charming is the beauty before World War II. I wish I could take a telepathic trip to see it in person because the entire city was decadent and rich with historic architecture.
I hope the people who live here realize how lucky they are to be in Hannover. Not only is life convenient, but also the quality of life is one of a kind. Kids still play outside. Women can walk around alone at night. It’s clean. The city is affordable. Not everything is commercialized. You don’t have to pay $3,000 to live in a nice flat without worrying about your ceiling leaking or pay $3.00 for an avocado. I feel its one of the last remaining gems on this planet, which is what I felt in Australia, especially in terms of women’s safety.
But, I don’t know I feel that there is some interconnectedness between all the cities that I’ve spent time in - Cleveland, Seattle, Surfer’s Paradise, Hannover – all of you are so different but alike in many ways.
So, if you change, change for the better.
I will always remember the fun times I’ve had in Hannover and believe its one of the best places to live in Europe. Ich liebe dich Hannover.