10.01.2004

To begin with.

Right. So here goes nothing.


Step onto a plane in PDX International. Pocket-size pillows. Rolling luggage. Streamlined cutlery. Step off in Frankfurt. Go down a long tunnel in the terminal following a funny little German man in an oversize pinstripe suit, loudly leading a clutch of elderly Germans. Rolling walkways. Illegible signs. Brushed steel everything.
Step onto a train in Berlin. You can still see the sixty-year old bulletholes and half-ruined cathedrals. The River Spree weaves through boathouses and the remains of the Berlin Wall. The sky as clear as a glass of water. Beware of neo-nazis in dark boots with white laces.
Customs officers pad by on the train. Curious blend of anachronistic mechanical visa-stamps and infra-red passport verification devices. Sip strong German beer while watching Eastern Europe wheel by out the window. Kick off boots for the first time in almost twenty-four hours. Feel eyes watching you everywhere, the other-ness of a stranger in a strange place. Remember what color your skin is. Sip more beer.
Arrive in Szamocin, wrinkled and road-giddy. Stars are brighter, clearer. Roads weaving in the wilderness, crosses at every crossroads. Unwrap the sleeping bags from the stilts. Start to question why you packed what you've packed, and why you didn't pack what you didn't pack.
The floorboards are worn smooth and dark, like polished mahogany. Even the nail studs are rounded from one hundred years of footfalls. Strange eastern European toilets that whisper all night.
Days tumble by rapidly. Long hours of sweat and language difficulties. Feast on kielbasa and potato salad, latkes and strong vodka. Swap some American songs for a few Polish and Ukrainian ones. Fall head over heels for the sunlight and the singing. Build some torches and flaming walls. Carefully husband your stock of wicking, because you've got a lot to build. In Poland, beer is cheap and women are deadly. Begin to hunger for newspapers. Watch the grit get into your fingerprints, no matter how often you wash your hands. Remember to send some damn letters one of these days. Get lost in the dark forest, singing loudly and drinking strong Polish beer. Learn that six shots of vodka really isn't a good idea.
Do some breathtaking theatre in a converted train station. Listen to the long speeches Polish directors love to make. Play with fire and bears and taciturn Polish audience types. Miss home. Wonder how you'll ever eat anything that isn't Polish. Struggle with more language problems. Reinvent self-conceptualizations based on a fluid paradigm of identity. Run out of Stumptown coffee the first week.
Look for more mass posts when I arrive in Gdansk. Peace and Health to you all, know that you're much missed, and watch your mailboxes.

keep on rocking in the free world,

paulmonsterinpoland

3 comments:

The Lioness said...

What colour IS your skin then?

paulmonster said...

the exact hue and pitch of Ben & Jerry's New York Triple Fudge Ice Cream, of which I consume so much

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