‘It may be that the satisfaction I need depends on my going away, so that when I’ve gone and come back, I’ll find it at home.’ – Rumi
I’m not necessarily a world traveller or a globetrotter, but I certainly lived in enough unknown, hidden, small – and not so small – towns to know where my home is. And my home is not the rented apartment I live in right now, but a place – a few hundred kilometres away from Hamburg – surrounded by green waves, circulated by a fresh breeze throughout the year, musically accompanied by the sounds of seagulls. A place where you lose yourself in walking, or running down the seemingly endless beach. A place where the air is so fresh you feel like going through cold turkey once you get back to the industrious city with its clouds of smoke and grey facades.
The place I’m talking about is Warnemünde, certainly not a nest, but not populated enough to have its own license plate.
Entering the town you’ll be taken aback by the masses of people, though. Warnemünde owes everything to its sea side – and is owned by its tourists.
The city’s name derives from the river (the Warnow) which flows into the Baltic Sea, and the people travel to Warnemünde because of the sea. I am not a fan of large crowds, spread in endless rows of towels on the beach – that’s the downside of the constant high tide.
But I love the stage when the mob has left, when the sun is still caressing me once I make my way over the miles of sand and when the burning balloon finally leaves our sight and I’m back out of the water so that I can watch the sunset with its last hooray, its last sigh, its last bursting red rays.
The Sea. The Baltic Sea embraces me in its high towering, cold waves. At first it hurts – the cold water feels like sharp needles pinching my skin. But with every step further I get closer to home.
Home. I return home when I get covered by the cold liquid of life. My body arrives first, my mind follows. I am content. Floating through the water – the clear blue sky above me, the soft waves surrounding me – I know this is where I belong.
When I’m away from my heart’s home – although I believe, Warnemünde rather chose me as its constant resident – I am not feeling particularly unhappy, or depressed, or unsatisfied with my life. But once I drift aimlessly down the sea I’m overcome by the feeling that in this moment I am my true self. Everything becomes crystal clear. My mind is untangling the web of thoughts, created by my constant state of worrying and uncertainty in the city that is my home solely determined by a zip code.
There’s more to Warnemünde than its sea side, however, most of its most famous sites are directly related to the sea, such as the Strom, a long row of former Captains and fishermens’ houses and nowadays rented apartments and tourist shops, right next to the water. A rather modern attraction seems to be the cruise liners that make halt in Warnemünde to welcome or see off passengers.
Mass tourism – one of the few leisures in life I don’t understand.
Besides floating down the water, I love the long alleys that have you pass corners with marvellous rose bushes and hidden gems on bells and facades. And, although, you perceive the small changes that are made every year, I still feel as if time has no real impact on Warnemünde. Once I enter the town it feels as though nothing has significantly changed in the last years. It still feels the same to me. It still feels like home, the home of my heart.
And I guess Rumi is right in saying you need to leave your home every once in a while to appreciate its existence, its simple ‘being there’, welcoming you back without ever questioning your going away. Coming home gives you this feeling of satisfaction you can only receive if you’ve been away for long enough.
May we be world travellers or globe trotters, or not, in the end we are always coming back to our roots. And I don’t believe that WE are in fact the ones to choose our own melting pot, but it chooses us. Because whenever I return to Warnemünde I just feel something deep inside me, this feeling of arrival that overfloats me, out of the blue.
Maria was listening to ‘Lovesong’ by Adele while writing this article.