Monday, January 22, 2018

Geography of Nostalgia

When I started working at the Firm in 2007, I noticed I really missed my old hood, the Schottentor area of Vienna's first district. I'm sure there's a post on this sentiment somewhere in the archives here.  I missed the places where I would occasionally meet friends for lunch (more often I just had my regular home-made rucola and cheese sandwich) and what contributed to this nostalgia was that this was also the part of the first district that was associated with my happy student days. It did not help that the Firm's office was located in a rather ugly, non-descript part of Vienna's otherwise beautiful city centre and I never really liked it there at all. In the summer of 2008, the office relocated to its current grand location, right at the intersection of Graben and Kohlmarkt, which you could call the very heart of the first district. For the past 3 or 4 years, I even had a "window seat", i.e. a desk with a priceless Graben-view that was particularly beautiful in winter when the Christmas "chandeliers" were up. Not to mention the office's convenient location for quick toilet breaks when you were shopping on Saturday or needed a pitstop before going home after dinner or a cinema visit in town.
This past Saturday, my friend (known here as PP's Sis) redeemed the birthday voucher I had gifted her: sushi at Meinl am Graben, followed by coffee in town. The two of us had enjoyed many weekday sushi dates (so much so that the waiter didn't need to ask us for our orders any longer as we always ordered the exact same) until her office relocated to the not-quite-as-sexy Hauptbahnhof area, and then, about a year later, I left the Firm and the city entre myself. At first, I had consoled her as she moped about missing her previous Mon-Fri quarters and even though I "got" her loss in theory, I must have forgotten this feeling I had experienced myself 10 years ago until it hit me myself. With a vengeance. It's not only the area itself, it's also about feeling no longer in the loop of such important things as being the first to see SALE signs being put up and new stores opening, which we had both always taken for granted. On Saturday, I noticed 2 new stores on Herrengasse that would not have escaped my attention if I still worked there. The horror!
Even though my new office is a mere 4 subway stops from my old one, it really feels a world away and with the exception of one cool restaurant, I really don't ever feel like spending a minute longer in the area after leaving the office, ever. On the bright side - not only did I survive (come on, let's be a little dramatic here!) a similar "displacement" before, but my new hood also has one big advantage: close proximity to the Old Danube, which I really appreciated last summer when I went swimming after work pretty much every sunny afternoon. 

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