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Autor: anton • March 24, 2011 • 1,034 Words (5 Pages) • 340 Views
He was born and raised in Communist Poland; I grew up in the small town of Washingtonville, N.Y. He was sent to the store with the family rotation card to wait in line for Cuban bananas; I argued with my parents over making my bed. His mother was a solidarity labor organizer who narrowly avoided arrest during martial law; my mother was in the PTA. A pile of our clothes scattered on the floor of our Tarrytown apartment makes me so happy that I took that unexpected, unfamiliar trip to Katowice, Poland.
While we were warned that entering into a multicultural relationship entailed certain risks, we trusted that whatever it was that brought us together in the first place in 2004, in Poland-and had withstood transplantation to Tarrytown, where we moved a year later, would survive any tensions and miscommunications that arose. The fact is, were it not for those tensions and miscommunications, we might never have decided to be together in the first place.
When we met we literally didn't speak the same language. I was in Italy staying with family, and had eventually learned of a friend who was in Poland. When I arrived in Poland I saw him, he was an intense, blue-eyed, black-clad architecture student, his name, Przemek. The next week after seeing him a few times in town he invited me to a pub to "check out his portfolio." Our lack of words forced a breathtaking directness. "Do you eat meat?" He asked, as he took a drag on his cigarette, staring at me as though my answer might reveal the very depths of my soul. (He had heard that many American women were vegetarians.) Did I have pets? He had parakeets or as they call them papugi- but one had escaped and the other he feared, would "die of a broken heart." When we next met, he brought me a poster from a KrzysztofKieslowski film that my friend had told me about. The time after that, it was a box of grapefruit; the next, a fancy bottle of cognac. When we finally went to his apartment in a crumbling Belle Epoque mansion, none other than Ronald McDonald (abducted by his roommates during an evening of vodka-induced euphoria) greeted me in the entryway.
The next morning, his father calling to ask how his English classes were going awakened us. And so it happened that I received my first invitation to his parents' home in the Beskidy Mountains, near the Czech border. His mother, who he says resembles the fine-boned Polish actress Grazyna Szapolowska, greeted me with a warm hug and whispered, in sparkling English, that the bed she prepared for us in the guest room was "fine for sleeping as well as making love." I should of thought that the first Polish family to welcome me into their home might one day be mine. But, of course I didn't know. It was hard to imagine that our differences could come between us when they were clearly part of the attraction, but long before the end of my stay in Poland, it had become clear to me that I didn't want to stay. Przemek's English quickly improved with intensive private instruction, while my Polish stagnated at menu-reading level. I was often left circling the room at parties, feeling invisible, hoping and fearing that somebody might try to talk to me. One night after a joke at my expense went un-translated I realized how foreign I really was. Making my escape into the evening, I was a few blocks away by the time Przemek caught up, and I wailed that month's worth of frustration at him. I waited for him