Can we take cities with us when we go? Luisa Alcocer couldn't get back to her beloved Munich; but she found that she really could live as a Münchener again, in a world in flux, however far Coronavirus had taken her away.
I do not live in Munich, I used to. Because of the wonderful adventure that I undertook in the last one-and-a-half-meant-to-be-two years, I moved out with the hopes of coming back.
Early this year, I received a call from my former flatmate and the good friend who took my
room while I was gone. Their contract was coming to an end and they had no plans to
extend it whatsoever. The reason they called has nothing to do with what was in my
mind. They needed me to decorate their new places. But FYI, all of my things were still in
their basement, on their walls, in the top corner of the closet.
I immediately planned to go visit them, go to the Sommerfest (Local tip: same as the
Oktoberfest, with fewer people, more Germans and cheaper beer); the issue was, this had to
wait until my semester in Madrid was over. One thing led to the other and in the least
expected moment, when I actually opened my eyes and saw what was happening, I was
already across the Atlantic flying above New York and on my way to Mexico City. I lost my
trip to Munich, I lost the beer, I was about to loose my things! My life: photos, paintings,
memories... who cares about the clothes (honestly)?
Once here in Mexico, I forgot about it.
Photo by Luisa Alcocer
Eventually, I received a call, „Luisa! Flatmate #1 moved out already, I am moving out on
Friday!“. Of course Flatmate #2 was busy with his move. He needed to care for himself and
for his things and with a stay-home-call from the Bavarian government already it wasn’t
easy for him to move my things. My friends, those with basements or a room to spare were
out of town in their respective birth-towns. Darn! – I thought.
How could I be in Munich, without being there?
I didn’t know how. Working from home, writing something, reading, talking to people and
even parties happen online. But how do you move apartments without being there, without a phone that works internationally, without hands who could help?
In about 2 hours I came up with dozens of plans, but none of them seemed plausible. I
then relived life in Munich. In my mind, I was living there, eating breakfast looking out of
the window, taking the bike everywhere, having beers in the English garden, riding the s-
train to the outskirts of the city, etcetera etcetera. What would I do, in the same situation,
but being there? I did not own a car, I lived in the city center, I have a tight budget.
'I went again to the English garden, I went to the outskirts, I took my bike in the little medieval streets where cars are not allowed.'
Finally, after being in the city for a while in my mind, I actually arrived in the city. I navigated it online. I went again to the English garden, I went to the outskirts, I took my bike in the little medieval streets where cars are not allowed. I found this one guy, working for this one
company, who could help me. He, alone, was moving all the logistics for a storage company. From home. He was, as I was, searching for people to help. Because who would think „Oh! Pandemic! Let’s move the old fridge to a storage room and get a new one!“. He answered immediately. I was lucky though. For all this, it was 17.55h in Europe and it was only 11.55h for me. He was about to call it a day when he decided to answer my call.
After a couple of come and go emails, I asked if he could have another call. He said there is no need.
Who says we are not living the city? I think now, more than ever, we are allowed to rethink
it, give it life, remember those routines that matter, that stick. I felt like a Münchener again.
Two days later, my things were picked up and I had left Munich.
Luisa Alcocer is an urban philosopher from Mexico City, most recently living in Madrid. Her adult life took three steps back since Covid-19, but she remains an optimist about how we will rebuild our world.
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