Sunday, February 8, 2009

Do Widzenia….

Well, yesterday was expateek’s last day in Warszawa, and it was quite sad. So many things left undone. Places not seen, Polish words not learned, friendships that must now survive long-distance… expateek can’t think about it all too much.

One of the lessons to be learned is that one must enjoy each day as it comes, and one should truly seize the day, always. One of expateek’s regrets is that she didn’t get to know the lovely little lady across the street sooner.

Last summer, expateek heard a little voice calling, “Pani, pani!” The woman across the street was trying to get expateek’s attention, because expateek and Mr D somehow managed almost every week to forget to put out the trash. Pani Alicja wanted to tell us the days that the rubbish men came, and that we were to remember to put the bin out!

As first, Pani Alicja spoke Polish and expateek spoke English, and it seemed as if communication would be impossible. But then Pani Alicja and expateek figured out that they both spoke French, and a friendship was born.

The other day, expateek took her orchids and African violets over to Pani Alicja, as expateek emptied out her house. Pani Alicja made tea and the two had a lovely chat over tea and biscuits. expateek learned that Pani Alicja was active in the Warsaw Uprising, that she had been imprisoned in Germany during the war for an entire year, and that Pani Alicja’s husband lived in hiding in the deep forests of Poland for six years (1939-1945) during the war. Six years! When Poles say “We have suffered”, they’re not joking.

Poland is a place of secrets and mysteries, and deep, deep history. To meet the lady across the street, and hear her amazing stories, just knocked expateek out. She wishes she’d gone visiting sooner, like all of the last year, so she could have gotten to know this lovely little babcia better.

Other tidbits imparted to expateek in her visits this week included the information that the babcia next door is one hundred years old, and wears shoes that have 6 inch tall heels (because she’s so tiny). That the priests at one end of the street have lunch every day with the sisters at the other end of the street. That expateek’s landlord is a very difficult man (she actually knew that already) and it took him 10 years to get the city’s approval to build the house expateek’s been living in. That various palms were crossed with silver in the process, as the landlord has friends in high places.

And expateek met Pani Alicja’s bird and little furry mice in their cage, and they laughed and talked about life and children and the war and the Communist regime and languages and all sorts of other things. It was wonderful.

expateek’s really going to miss Warsaw, and the people here. Especially the people.



Christine said...

What a sweet and interesting person. Amazing! You have so many nice memories of Poland. Hopefully, you will get back there some day. Welcome back home. I hope your trip went well and that you don't suffer too much jet lag.

expateek said...

Jet lag will be in two weeks, as I've only gotten as far as London for now. Two weeks here to tie up some loose ends with my littlest one (18 y.o., but still the bebe) and then onwards to wintery Chicago.

Best to you, hope you're well. Love the knitting, btw! xx

La Belette Rouge said...

What a lovely post. It is such a great reminder of all the stories that live around us if we just take the time to discover them. Really beautiful.

Should you want I think you will find many opportunities to practice your Polish in Chicago. As I am sure you know there is a very large Polish community there. I so envy you your move to Chicago. I miss it so.

Thanks so much for entering my "I love my bloggers Valentine's Day contest". Eyeliner is one of my secrets too. My big eyeliner secret if Bobby Brown Eyeliner Gel. The secret is that it is fantastic and once it is on it stays on all day. Love the stuff.

Thanks again. Good luck with your move!:-)

expateek said...

LBR -- Thank you for the compliment. And yes, leaving is certainly bittersweet.

I'm looking forward to Chicago. We've lived there before, and it's kind of home-ish. We'll see. Never the same river twice.

Regarding the Bobby Brown Eyeliner Gel: does it stay on even if you cry? I always have to be cognizant of my overall emotional stability -- had about a year where I could never wear eyemakeup... certain risk of crying and undoubtedly looking like a raccoon as a result. Somehow, not a good look. Bad year, 2006.

Are you coming to Chicago for BlogHer 2009? If so... :-)

wnygrl585 said...

Love your story of Pani Alicja. I love those kind of little old ladies. I have met two that I have gotten aquianted with meeting each year at the same spot at the beach in the summer. Both German's in their late 70's early 80's. still drive for their ritual swim for exercise. One was a nanny for an Italian doctor. She also raises African grey's and is just full of fascinating stories. The sweetest and cutest little lady. Last year was sad because she entered a nursin home. Not for health but was afraid of being alone. Her husband passed away a few years ago and she never had children.