They put in the stairs at our new home this week. For the first time since we bought the new place, I’m able to walk from the second floor to the third. Previously, this was only possible by taking a chance on a ladder and platform structure that looked like something from an apocalyptic version of Donkey Kong; so, needless to say, I’ve been patiently waiting for the stairs to arrive.
Seeing the third floor was a big deal for me because this is where my office is going to be, as well as all of our books. I’ve dreamed of having an office to write in for as long as I can remember – an office that wasn’t also the bedroom, or a place to work that didn’t require me to buy a cup of coffee to stay. While the whole home has been exciting, the third floor is where my head is at most of the time (though, to be honest, the kitchen gets a lot of attention too).
Standing there this morning, looking down the stairs to the bottom floor, I had one of those moments expatriates inevitably have living abroad, when you realize exactly how far you’ve come and how far away everything really is.
People ask me why I came to Poland. Poles have a hard time accepting why an American would choose to live here. When they ask “Why Poland?” there’s a certain level of disdain in the question’s tone that has always bothered me, mostly because it’s revealing more about their attitude about the country than it does genuine interest. My answers on the subject aren’t terribly exciting, and I’ve often considered making up an elaborate story involving police chases, dead prostitutes, and lost passports. If they’re going to be disappointed in my answer, the least I can do is entertain them.
There are days when it’s cold and gray, the language pushes me from every direction to the point that I can feel myself suffocating from the lack of vowels, and the weight of all this history that’s brought more misery than joy comes pressing down, and I wonder if this is where I want to be. And then there are the days when it’s sunny and blue, the language wanders the air like music, and the history comes alive in ways I never expected, and I wonder why I even doubted myself. Without trying, I’ve stumbled into an amazing life in one of the greatest cities in the world.
Why Poland? Because my heart is here. Because my home is here. Because my family is here. Because the future is a universe of infinite possibilities. Because no matter far away everything is, the things that matter have always been close.
I felt this and more this morning, standing there on the top of our home that’s both far away and near.