Summer is here, and this time to stay. As evident by the air shimmering over the black asphalt, the parched grass of city parks, and the crowds of sweaty people fleeing Berlin towards one of the nearby lakes or hiking trails.

Life is good, even if slightly tense.

I had no doubt Berlin would recover after the pandemic, but I was thinking more along the lines of recover eventually. Not right away, not immediately after a change in weather and drop in numbers.

Restaurants have moved their business outside where they wage war against each other, solemn-faced chefs and managers laying claim to the city sidewalks through the means of strategic table placement, confused guests getting swept left and right, lured by sights and smells of exotic cuisines from around the world. Even the kebab vendors try to outdo each other, juggling aluminum-foil-wrapped donners like carnival artists.

And no, it’s not the roaring twenties yet. You still need to register with the contract tracing app, and going inside anywhere requires either a test or a vaccination passport, but compared to the dull greyness of the prolonged winter and nonexistent spring, this feels like waking up from hibernation.

Not everything has recovered. Naturally. As you walk through the city you encounter the ghosts of places that were. Yawning gaps in the rows of restaurants, letting you gaze into the bare intestines of a building, or back alleys where there used to be something. You can’t say what exactly. Before the pandemic you wouldn’t have noticed any of these places, now they grab your attention through the absence of purpose and order.

I wish I had gone out more. There must’ve been so much to experience.

I know I can’t make up for all the lost opportunities, and definitely not for the uninspired way I lived my life before, but now… I believe Berlin is going to be the place to be, and I’m glad to have the front row seat.

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