Wednesday, December 07, 2011

returning home

If you move far away from your childhood town or city, if it’s in a flyover state, or an other side of the ocean location, how often would you go back? And with what sweet memories of warm, coddled moments of childhood?

My earliest memories of Warsaw are so fine and beautiful, but they start to change rapidly as layers of childhood are replaced with layers of adolescence and then layers of adulthood. There, the fabric gets messy. Gold threads are interspersed with something sadder, unraveling in places.

Once I had kids (in the States), I had a long period of time when I did not go back to Poland. And then I did go back. Again and again. And I haven’t been sorry, even as each trip is a tad complicated and leaves me thinking afterwards that I need a vacation.

Last day of classes. Oh, it’s the usual, only more of it. Forget about Rosie, forget about biking, I zip in my Red Hot Lover and am grateful for the few minutes I have in it. Warm, calm, with the good sound of classical music.

I try to remember what I must do before leaving tomorrow. Gift shopping, yes, done that. Laundry. Yes, that too. Recharge camera batteries, yawn, I’m boring myself from the tedium of such a list.

I’m still not finished with exam writing – I’m giving myself until midnight tonight!

But I do take a break in the morning. I need to call a phone number that’s just been emailed to me. I need to call a woman who lives in a mountain valley in southern Poland, so isolated that you need to hike for an hour from the nearest paved road to get there. And yet, she now has a phone line and I can call.

She speaks a dialect that you don’t hear much anymore in the Polish highlands. At 85, she is of a generation of highlanders that I know from my youth.

She picks up the phone as if she had been doing it all her life. Yes, yes, sure I remember you (to be fair, she was called earlier by a Polish friend warning her that she may hear from me)! Yes, yes, do come, God willing, the roads will stay clear. Come, leave your car by the priest’s house before you hike out. It’ll be fine there!
Will you be home this Sunday? Or will you be going to the village to church? When I last saw her five years ago, she was still making the weekly hike up to the hill crest then down again.
My great nephew will take me in the morning. (Some vehicles are able to maneuver the heavily rutted road to the hamlet where she lives.)
Well then, weather permitting, I will see you Sunday.

And I log off Skype, marveling at how easy it all is these days.

Alright. It’s time for me to go back and spend a few days in Poland. Even as for the holidays, I’ll be back here. Home.

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Hi Isis. You want to come in for a while?