The last morning in Warsaw. Bags packed, downstairs, waiting for the preset hour of departure. I have a few minutes for a stroll, just around the residential blocks by the hotel. There’s a café, I go inside. I hadn’t eaten breakfast. An espresso would be good. I look around...
...it reminds me a little of something I’d find in an artsy district of an American city. With a Polish twist, sure. The napkins are tucked into holders on each table, the cookies are different, all that. Still, I order my coffee thinking that it’s right for this place -- more fitting than having tea with lemon.
One foot into the door of an impending return.
We’re in a cab, on our way to the airport. I’ve stopped speaking Polish for good. What for. I’m chatting with my friends about being on the early side. Our driver chimes in, in English and tells how bad the traffic was just a half hour ago. Be glad you’re early. You never know.
He talks about his own recent travels – delays due to the volcanic issues in Iceland last spring. His English is rocky and for a minute I’m sorry I’m making it harder for him but I don’t want to end the camouflage so late into the ride. But he is bold and happy to keep going.
We were traveling back from a trip my wife and I took and just before our flight took off for Warsaw, they shut down the airport and all of Europe! We had to stay an extra week, my mother had to take time off from work to come over and walk our dog, it was a mess!
I smile at his stories. Then I ask -- So, where did you learn English? It's always interesting to find out where someone's language skills come from. It tells you a lot about a person’s life. Indeed:
Ha! In London!
You lived there?Well yes, for eight years! I go there to visit a friend for four days. Four days! Then, my friend breaks his foot and asks me to stay and help him for a few months with his job, you know, until his foot heals. I said ok. I call my family and tell them – four more months. And that turned into eight years!
But he returned. My own adult trip to the US began with a summer in Connecticut and eventually turned into a lifetime away. I became an immigrant without at least initially intending to be that, even as I could not imagine returning to Poland again once I’d settled into a life on the American side of the ocean.
I leave Poland. Good bye Poland. I’ll think about you again when I write my book this summer. Probably not a whole lot before. Not intensely anyway. I’m leaving that intensity behind, sort of like leaving a spare set of clothing behind so that you don’t have to pack new stuff for your future returns.