On my recent trip to Poland, I ended up unexpectedly back in the Stare Miasto of Kraków–fog (mgła) had delayed my flight, giving me 12 extra hours in the city. Since I was alone, I walked for half an hour from the apartment where I was staying into town, first up to the Dominican Church to pay my respects. I entered during the consecration and felt overwhelmed (by the way, at a Monday noon Mass, there was standing room only in a fairly large church). Then I wandered to the Rynek Głowny and sat down with a cappuccino to people-watch.
I felt more unsettled than I had expected. Six years ago I visited Kraków for the first time, also on a cold October day. The coat I wore was the same one I had bought in the train station there. It made me nervous to contemplate the differences between myself as I was then and as I am now. I had visited Kraków at a time in my life before anything had really hurt me–when the trauma of moving from home and of studying abroad were the most difficult aspects of my life. I returned 8 months later with my dearest friends, before we had to worry about parting ways. It is still difficult for me not to become emotional when I think about how happy we were then.
Other places like New York keep up with the changes six years have wrought. Why, my dearest city, must you always remain the same? Why do you hold such sweet memories in perfect fixity? Why have you not grown weary as I have?