TV towers are the one single thing that do the trick making me believe I am at home.
Forget about the food. Forget about the weather. Who cares about the language I speak? Everyone around me is provisional and will eventually leave.
But TV towers will be here forever.
Or at least, that is what I thought.
TV towers are great for orientation, very visible reference points. I grew up seeing the tv tower of Madrid from the window of my parents car. Seeing it meant we were close to my grandparents place, and I knew it was the moment to change the cd in my discman and listen to my favorite song of the week before we arrived. The tv tower of Madrid has a name, ‘El Piruli’, and just like many of the references we hold in our minds it is nicer when seen from afar. Distance makes it break the skyline in a gracious way. I think for it as a memory I never want to revise in detail. Getting too close to it would open my eyes and see that it is, in the end, just a mass of concrete and cables arranged in a vertical fashion.
When I first moved to Prague, I looked for the TV tower when I was lost in the narrow streets. The Zizkov tower, with its crawling babies and its red and blue lights, guided me home many nights. A few months before I moved out, I rented a top floor, very close to the tower. I could see it from my window, and sometimes it felt as if, if only I had linger fingers, I would be able to touch it. He used to smoke in that window, and I had my share of books and reads there, too. In my memory, the view of the tower makes the house a home. Not the blue carpet, not the pictures in the wall. The tower, with its lights that said ‘I am still here, it is still home’.
Berlin Alexanderplatz tower is impressive. Legends say, when it was built in the Wall times, the sun reflected on the surface as a cross. The soviets made engineers change the metallic panels to avoid this effect. The tower does not reflect as a cross anymore, but it is still a mirror of effects in the sky. A reddish sunset in Berlin, by the canal and seeing the tower in the skyline, bleeding sun, is a pleasure to the heart. When it is foggy, one can only see the lights on the top. A reminder, and a way to know where home is. And in that moment home feels like something that looks at you from above and that knows that you wont be able to let it go. The tower looks from above and feels like if it was saying ‘I’m still here, I’m watching you’. And one’s never sure of whether that is a good or a bad thing; if Berlin has long and open arms to hold you and make you feel you belong or to grab you and never let you go.
TV towers will soon be something from the past. When wifi balloons come, will we need the old TV antennas? And if we get rid of the towers, how will we feel home?