Thursday, October 27, 2016

from Poland, continued

A person can be one way in one place and very different elsewhere. I often think that I am quite different here, in Poland than I am at home. It comes from having been a chameleon all my life. I take on the colors of my environment. It's not that I'm the lizard who doesn't want to be seen, but people do tend to want to be at peace with their surroundings and I'm no different in this.

It's obvious that Poland offers me the longstanding friendship of those with whom I grew up. Back home, my family is a huge part of my social life. In Poland, apart from my sister, my focus is on the world of friends. And this trip shows it!


Today, my American co-conspirators and fellow travelers, Barbara and Shmuel, are still in Krakow and so I use the time to catch up.

I have my usual breakfast, made pretty for sure by the surroundings...



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... and then I hurry to the nearby cafe -- Wrzenie Swiata -- the one with all those nonfiction books...



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... to meet Agnieszka, my university friend who decades ago had talked me through many a youthful crisis (of the heart, of the mind, though never of the spirit!). You know how it is: you're an adult but just barely, decisions must be made, you feel torn, you just need to talk!

It's amazing how peaceful and calm our conversation is today. Perhaps I have finally grown up? One can hope.



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Immediately after, I rush home (how funny to write that again about a place in Warsaw) to meet my sister (without whom all this would not be possible).



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... and Pani Karolina and the talented contractor who worked through the remodeling job. This indeed is the awesome threesome!



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I thought the radiators needed tweaking. Turns out only one of them did. The other -- my stupidity. I turned in off rather than on. Ed would have been amused.

A touch up here and there and his work on the apartment is done.

But in Poland, if you like the people you work with, you linger. There are stories to share. Moments to mull over. Life's experiences to bring to the table.

And speaking of table, I have now done the final count for my party -- the one I am hosting in my apartment this Saturday. Twelve people. Gulp! With the help my crew here, we add two leaves to the table, stretching it to the max. The apartment looks now like it's all table! All I need is two more chairs. Pani Karolina and my sister quickly make plans to select and add on two folding ones to have just for such an occasion.


The afternoon.

I'd been shocked to learn that of my close friends, one couple lives just down the next block from me! But why should I have been surprised? This is so Warsaw! You somehow never leave each other's orbit. These "neighbors" volunteer to take me on a tour of our common turf, pointing out the best veggie stand...


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(Oh! I must remember to pick up some of those pickles! Are you jealous yet, Ed?)



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... pointing out, too, the covered year round market just a few blocks away...



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... and the best bread store, the best cake store, the best eateries -- the list is very long. I take notes!


I remember, too, why this is actually a good time to visit Poland. Like in Wisconsin, the autumn colors are peaking.


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We walk toward the river, toward the mermaid that is the symbol of this once tortured now quite thriving city (why tortured? I'm thinking of the war... in Poland, I often think about the war -- THE war, THAT war).


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Along the river now and then up to the gardens that grow on top (yes, that's right -- on top) of the Warsaw University's library building. Good views, green spaces, quiet...



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(What's a Warsaw skylines? A snippet of the old town? Or, is it where you can pick out the Palace of Culture? Opinions vary.)



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My friend makes a call...


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We meet up with his wife not far from here, at a tiny and wonderful restaurant called...



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Ha! I left it for you to guess: it's Dziurka Klucza in Polish.

What? You still haven't a clue as to what it means? Okay okay -- "Key hole!"


The food leans toward Italy and it's very good. Do not try to go there without a reservation!

I had just been mentioning that squash and pumpkins are increasingly trendy in American cuisine and boom! Here we are, eating pumpkin bruschetta in Warsaw!



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Over the years, my male friends married and in all cases now, I adore the wives! It's as if my pool of friends grew since the days when we were all single.


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I go over to their home and we finish supper there. How incredible that we should be neighbors now! Life is so weirdly kind sometimes.


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I walk slowly up Tamka street. It's so odd and so natural really. As if I never left! But I did leave. And now I am hurrying, so that I can get news from home. That permanent, stable and yes, beloved home that's now on the other side of the ocean.



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