Lichtenberg is a bleak place, still, surrounded by the grey GDR concrete. The underground passages does not exist, being rebuilt, but I remember the sickly, pale green color of the tiles from the time before. The steps echoed in the low, winding corridors, the sounds of trains above my head were mixed with the noise of approaching u-bahn.
At that time the journey took much longer, in the slow, old-fashioned train. Now the way from Warsaw to the west goes unnoticed. I write, from time to time glancing into the window. Beyond it, among the plain, there are spires and roofs, few russet leaves, and fresh, almost summery grass.
I do not catch the moment when we cross the Oder. Poland is left beyond, although I still think about the last encounter, last evening, about the empty, glorious, shining space of the new museum. Not so new, now, as I remind myself.
We arrive to the gleaming expanse of the Hauptbanhof, to the swarm of people, and huge, spotless glass walls. The evening is beautiful, in the low sun of early autumn, I see flags over the Reichstag dome. There is no use to superimpose the old, black-and-white pictures over the Hauptbanhof. The place did not exist, it was built from scratch.
I take my bag, wondering, what unit of the Soviet Army was fighting here, next to the white mermaid of Starbucks. I have my cap and a smoke outside, squinting from the sun. Friday evening, the possibilities are endless. I think about friend’s messages, e-mails, or glass of wine on the riverbank. Theater, maybe. It’s not even six pm.
I should check on this unit, I remind myself. Not for the work, just to tie up the loose end. Or to untie, as it happened before, already. I go to the u-bahn entrance. The keys are in the bag, in the inner pocket. Time to get them out.
You see, I, perversely, have a flat in Berlin.