Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Krakow doppleganger theory

I've been thinking a lot recently about second chances. Does fortune favor the brave or does it favor the rational?

Rather than spending endless weeks pondering philosophical dilemmas, I decided it was a much better idea to take off for Scotland for a long Halloween weekend. It was a chance to reconnect with my past in the form of UNC roommate Miss Katie Burns and besides, I couldn't deal with the depressing thought of Halloween with no trick or treaters. Krakow may have a dragon for a mascot, yet ghouls and ghosts roam its streets in other manifestations...

In Poland, All Saint's Day is celebrated in a way much closer to the actual roots of the holiday: lit candles are placed on ancestors' tombstones as a token of remembrance. It makes for an eerie yet beautiful sight and is taken quite seriously.

As I scarfed down haggis and staged Loch Ness photos involving sea-monster-shaped logs, being serious was the last thing on my mind. Nonetheless, Scotland helped me remember and appreciate forgotten small pleasures such as eavesdropping, speaking in slang, inside jokes, and friendly conversations with shopkeepers. Even getting lost, which should have been an inconvenience, became a pleasure in finding more and more perfect Scottish vistas and hiking trails.

By the time I returned to Krakow, bravery had won: I was moving into a new place in the city centre. Rationality helped: I would be saving 300 PLN per month. Coincidence was there too: as I returned from visiting my old roommate with my same name, I moved in with another one with my same first and middle names (in Polish, Katarzyna Anna). My favorite benefit, though, was one I hadn't expected:

I get to experience Krakow's most beautiful moment: the main market square misty and deserted at 7:00 a.m. as my heels click on the cobblestones, making my way to the train station every morning. I have even started waking up five minutes earlier every day just so I don't have to rush through it. And I'm a girl who eats breakfast at work to save even ten minutes of precious sleep time.

The almost comically consonant-filled name of my new street?

Wszystkich Swietych.

All Saints.