Thursday, October 13, 2005

[an aside]

Last night I met, for the first time, two special people: One who is a regular commenter on Ocean and one who is a reader but has never posted a comment. To you, reader-non-commenter: I think you should comment. Especially given your craft in life (writing). I could use an occasional slap when my style is off, or when you puzzle over an odd choice of words. Plus, your saying "you're doin' alright!" would mean a lot to me (as it did last night), especially since I am one of those who gawks in complete adoration at people who basically have put aside all earthly pursuits (including eating and paying bills) in favor of writing.

To the rest of you -- comment at your will. Of course, you should know that I print and paste every word onto my bedroom walls and fall asleep happily slurping it all in, repeating out loud each clause, adoring each comma. And if none appear I get drunk on Polish vodka (or cheap beer, Brando) and crawl under the bed weeping. But I believe in taking knocks in life.

Vienna: prelude, part 2

Today I am off on a brief trip to Vienna. For the next four days Ocean will be focused on the other side of the ocean.


It is now 1973. I am in New York, boarding a flight back to Europe. I am heading home. I have spent a year back in Manhattan. I’m working here and attending college. But I can’t seem to stay away from Warsaw. I go back at least three times a year.

Tired of always making a connection through waterlogged Amsterdam, overrun with what look to me, from my still very Polish eyes, like American potheads and drifters, I route myself this time through Vienna.

It is a mistake. I had traveled through Austria just a few years back and felt no pull to it then. It may be that I don’t speak German. I am not used to being in Europe and not speaking some words of the local language. It may be that I have evil thoughts about Austria, in much the same way that I have evil thoughts about the other bordering countries that took Poland apart bit by bit not so long ago.

And now, in the wetness of a cold spring Vienna evening, it may be that I am twenty and everyone around me looks middle-aged, stogy, lost in thought and most definitely ready to hurry home and close the door firmly behind them. Even though it’s barely 9 pm. And they are all wearing horrible, sensible shoes.

I go to the nearest movie house and see Butterflies are Free. With Eddie Albert Junior.

People on both sides of the ocean keep noting how lucky I am to be back in the free, democratic USA. I don’t feel lucky or unlucky. When I am in New York I miss Warsaw, when I am in Warsaw I miss New York.

In my young mind I take the words from the movie and mutate them so that they can be slapped onto my life with some kind of personal meaning. Butterflies are free. Only butterflies are free. No one else, just butterflies.