Much has changed in Poznan. I used to know the city on a level of intimacy that comes only with living somewhere for half of your life. Which pubs are good for trying out new craft beer, and which ones are for a quiet sit-down with a friend to talk about life into the small hours of the morning. The stretch of road in the center always smelled of urine. Where to go for the best street food. Cool jogging spots. Boardgame shops where you could go play Magic the Gathering on a Friday.

Now, when I visit, I feel like a tourist. A middle-aged curiosity that shows up where he doesn’t belong. What are you doing here, old man? You had your time. Now it’s our turn.

And yet it is impossible to let go of a place where so many roads, so many alleys have memories attached to them, the streets practically a mind-map, knit tight like neurons, flashes of what once had been. Overlapping.

There’s a new guard in town now. Waves of students wash up on the shores of Poznan every year. Some of them linger for years, some settle down, but even the passers-by redecorate the streets to feel at home.

It’s hot. 37 C. We should probably start getting used to parched lawns and concrete radiating heat.

Time to hide inside. Who would have thought that huge, air-conned shopping centers would become beneficiaries of climate change.

Poznan. Once, it was my life, my home. But then, after moving to Berlin and the long social separation of the pandemic, I experienced the old truth that a place is mostly made out of people. Some moved out. Others drifted away. Homes turned into buildings, ways into asphalt.

The wind picks up suddenly, without warning. Birds race to safety.

I wish I knew where I was going.

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