this time of year always gets me thinking around my time studying in berlin, incidentally, ten years ago.
this time of year when it would get dark at four o’clock and the sky would turn from neon-grey to a shroud of black. it was the coldest novembers i have ever lived through. so cold and dark, but i was deeply inspired and knew full well time was of the essence to make the most of my semester. this is my berlin – the short days, the long nights. although the summers are fantastic and are like a prize for making it through the other eight months of the year, cold, dark berlin is what i long for sometimes.
after class, i would stop and home and then go out, often on solo wanderings to whatever part of the city intrigued me most that week. even though my boyfriend at the time was a part of my study program, this semester was really about being with who i wanted to be with. making my own friends. and oftentimes, just me…. but i never felt lonely.
i would pop up out of the underground at senefelderplatz, the neon signs of the biomarkt glowing across from me. i would take a right, cross the street, and keep walking down kollwitzstrasse, passing inviting-looking shops and cafes that i was too intimidated to go into alone most of the time, to sweet little kollwitzplatz.
i spent a lot of time at st. george’s bookshop in kollwitzkiez. selling back one book, buying another, perusing their shelves for long stretches, or attending their long-running (now defunct) tuesday night film series.
i walked by a spielplatz, a scaffolded building under construction, a family in a flat on the first floor having dinner, cutlery clattering on the plates.
eventually i would take the U8 back to my own modest flat where mitte meets kreuzberg, stopping by the corner shop for a drink and a packet of soup to heat up, always puzzled why germany sold their soups in packets, not cans.
cold, dark november berlin. a very specific time and a place.
i thought maybe living in europe (even somewhere else besides germany) would bring back these feelings. they do sometimes comes, like when i’d finish teaching a class at the university and i walk back in the darkness under only the glow of the streetlights to the bus stop. although i know now that ten years later, i’ll look back and think about budejovice in a different but equally as meaningful way. nowhere can be exactly the same as another place and time, even if you wish it so, but it’s pretty great, a gift, i would ever posit, that we can create entirely new experiences, even in the same place we once were.