Tuesday, 23 March 2010


I have spent six months now in this city and have watched its seasons change. I have watched the skies fade from blue to grey and the ground from green to white. I have watched the people wrapping themselves up, layer on top of layer. Throughout the winter I have watched coats and hats envelope freezing faces, and now I begin to see them fall away, faces thaw, eyes spreading out.

I have spent six months now in this city and I begin to know it. I begin to choose my favourite roads, my favourite walls, my favourite times of day. I settle into a different pace of life, into a distant routine; a routine built from a job and a street I call home and a small bag of things I brought from England. I write the story of my days here, and my habits are all chosen.

I have spent four months sheltering in an attic watching the cold Koszalin winter. I have an enormous window that greets me with light each morning, sometimes bright, sometimes dark with low clouds telling me that there is nothing for me out there today, better to stay where I am with hot drinks under six blankets. But I always look. I have never seen a winter so vibrant, so true to its name.

Every morning I walk to my temporary window, I see the panorama of the city's edge sweep before me. I see low houses with red sloping roofs, perfect flat walls and deeply embedded windows. I see tubes of smoke racing out of low-lying chimneys. I see strong seagulls and stronger trees.

I see resilience and time and endurance. Never have I been so aware of temperature or of the changing months. I step outside and I know it is four degrees, I can feel it is October. I set my alarm early to watch the sunrise, to see the brightness of early mornings before the cloud comes in. I have never felt the seasons pass so strictly. I never witnessed a such a definitive Autumn.

Perhaps I am outside all this, perhaps I feel it because it is not mine, perhaps Manchester winters are just as magical, perhaps it is the temporariness of being here which fascinates me, perhaps it is beautiful to me because I do not know the meaning. I learn words, I read signs, I speak and I speak to people. I piece Koszalin together. I piece Poland together. I understand so little but gradually sentences come to me, small fragments of history are explained. Koszalin opens up, it expands before my eyes. Steadily, the days get longer.

And as the world gets smaller, as we connect and connect, as we all join hands and compare Tescos, I cling to my long journeys on Polish trains through the flatness of fields and the silence of nights. I am rocked to sleep by the sound of the train's slow mechanical motion; my journeys across Poland always end too quickly. I am at home in those carriages, seperated from each other by thin layers of snow, and though it may be cold and drafty I always preferred the warmth of people to that of a centralised heating system.

In England people don't say goodbye when they arrive at their stations anymore and not enough people dress up elegantly for the theatre.