Friday, December 07, 2007

from Schiphol: not there yet

The northern skies of Europe: cloudy, with an occasional break in the layers of gray, but mostly dark still, even at 8 a.m. local time.

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I wait at the Amsterdam airport, remembering it as the first international airport I ever traveled through on my own. I was returning to the States with only a few dollars in my purse. I borrowed the precious western currency from my uncle so that I could make my way to my summer job as a nanny. Being the youngest in my own small family, I knew nothing about kids. Girls don’t babysit in Poland. Grandparents do that. You live with them or they live with you. I knew plenty about grandparents.

I grew to love my charge and I returned a year later to live with her and her New York family, but every break I had, I would return to Europe, via Amsterdam, via Schiphol airport, with its endless stores of chocolates and tulip bulbs.

This time, my flight will take me beyond Poland, to a distant corner of the continent, to a country with as many issues with invaders and conquerors as Poland has. A country with a significant minority population. Of Russians. A country where the sun hardly rises at this time of the year.

Next post will be from... there.