Here is my story: I was working as a legal assistant in New York at the age of 23, generally apathetic about my day job and fighting the minor yet perpetual prejudices of living in an “out” outer borough (Queens), and when I couldn’t fall asleep on the night of my 24th birthday I bought a one-way ticket to Berlin – a city I’d never been to – for six months later.
A new start
Why Berlin? The reasons were varied and disjointed, but that David Bowie once lived here was probably the least flimsy argument. Much like Bowie, I imagined I was reinventing myself by throwing everything away and starting over. Yet despite this solid foundation, the fact that I didn’t know a soul in Berlin nor had a job lined up led to a lot of doubt about my decision in my early months. How could I move to a city without good Indian food? Why did the bus drivers keep yelling at me?
Worn out from the part-time English teaching and babysitting that I thought were my only professional options as a non-EU citizen, it occurred to me to give translation a try. After all, I had studied journalism – a craft requiring many of the same skills as translation – and I enjoyed the German language.
And once I started, I realized that this had to be the reason I was here. Just like how many question the idea of a one-and-only true love, I always questioned the idea of a dream job. I felt certain I would be worn down by the drudgery of any job and experienced a pang of cynicism any time I met someone who said they were passionate about their careers. And yet, I love translating. At some point, I realized I actually enjoyed going to work, a feeling that is akin to meeting the love of one’s life. Far from it being “The One”, however, what I admire about translation is that it combines my many diffuse loves – reading, writing, research, language and hunting for esoteric knowledge. Since every translation approaches a topic in a different way, there’s always a new word or concept to be learned, problem to be solved or fact to be discovered. And sometimes it even feels like magic.
So I found my dream job, and I found my true love – Berlin, which I ended up falling in love with after a period of irritation and eye-rolling (much like in a romantic comedy). And I get to have both at Supertext.
Cover image: Photo via Supertext