My Polish Roots
Trip Start Sep 20, 2009
14Trip End Ongoing
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My hair is naturally blonde, but I spontaneously dyed it black a few months ago. You can imagine how the Polish relatives I hadn't seen since I was 14 reacted to the sight of my new doo. It didn’t help that at the time of our trip to Warsaw, my light coloured roots were beginning to show (pun intended) and were very visible against the faux-dark background.
Poland, to me, has always been this far far away place that my parents would send me to for 4 months at a time over my summer vacation. It was not a weekend getaway destination. This trip meant so much to me, and fulfilled all my expectations
We arrived in Warsaw in the early afternoon. I was almost as nervous to be reunited with my family as James was to meet them for the first time. Luckily, the moment my bubbly laughing Cocia jogged up to us with open arms (and a red rose in hand for me) my anxiety subsided. She and my eccentric uncle, whose knowledge of Nazi and Communist history could rival any professors, led us to the car -- an oh-so-Euro Fiat. The drive back to the apartment was all-Polish 20 Questions (sorry love). But I must admit I was impressed with how much better my Polish has gotten now that the shyness of adolescence has been replaced by a thirst to practice and perfect my linguistic skills at any cost – even enduring embarrassing grammatical mix ups.
The smells hit home the hardest. I could write about each and every scent that means Poland to me, but I would be writing for hours - so I’ll just tell you about the apartment and its staircase. As soon as you walk in, it’s musty and dusty but with a Polish twist
We spent the evening reminiscing about prior visits, and then joined my cousins for a beer-filled (dedicated to James) evening of Polish polka singing and lots of cold cuts. It was incredible. During the daytime my uncle walked us up and down the streets of Warsaw filling us in on all the historical happenings, and making sure to show me the hot spots where my Mom and Dad (yes, when they were young loves) sat in coffee shops and even the church where they married. And when I say church, I mean palace of architectural astonishment. It’s also the church where Chopin’s heart is held – the Poles love the guy. As I stood in the church and stared down the aisle, I was dumbfounded by the thought that this was where my own mom stood the day she got married
We walked the university campus streets filled with avant garde art galleries and quaint shops and it gave me chills thinking that my parents were once my age!! It was amazing to see the places where they used to flirt, sit and chat. We visited some cafés where my uncle says they used to spend hours reading, writing and enjoying one another’s company – just like James and I are doing now. Seeing that was the highlight of my trip.
I feel myself getting carried away now, unorganized in thought and in grammatical tense so I have to end it here. I want to take this opportunity to thank my lovely cousin Marzenka and her dear husband Maciej for showing us the time of our lives, allowing us to stay in their home, and introducing us to Sancho – the cutest Tabby princess I know.