Kraków: Looking Back While Running Forward

Whenever I come back to Kraków, I feel like I’m coming back home, back to the familiar. This it the second time I’ve come back since I’ve lived here, but the first time that I have to share the city with the  massive late summer crowds that hover around the main square. It’s disorienting, so I learn to avoid them, and I find solace in walking along the Wisła or back to the outlying neighborhoods where I can hear mostly Polish, instead of a kaleidoscope of different languages.  I try to trace my steps back to familiar places in the city, the independent bookshop on Felicjanek street or the small cafe off of the square that was my refuge from the cold winter nights. I hate how it seems like things are modernizing so rapidly, selfishly I want my adopted city to stay the same it was three years ago, if only time could stand still.

On the last night the evening chill is replaced by a warm, balmy air that is more reminiscent of summer than early autumn. I start walking towards my old neighborhood, curiosity and nostalgia drawing me to my old street. The passage of time is obvious as I make my way to my apartment, with an abandoned construction site blocking the entrance. Suddenly I feel silly that I came, looking for memories of people and places that had long since passed. As I make my way back towards the square, I think about if I should have contacted more old friends or stayed longer, but this is how I feel whenever I come back–always reluctant to leave this city that evokes such powerful memories inside me.