I have been wanting to share this photo for a couple of weeks now after I found it. I thought this week was perfect.
When I was digging through old photos, postcards from my family in Poland when I was young, slides of Wroclaw, and other mementos they had sent us to remember where we had come from, I found this photo and held my breathe.
Staring at it, I had found something I had been searching for years.
Where had I stayed as a Citizen of the World, a refugee fleeing the Soviet crackdowns against Poland and her people as they rose in Solidarity against oppression. Fleeing tanks crouched on the borders, ready to come in and do who-knows-what.
I ran to my husband and showed him. "Look! Look! This is where I stayed in Austria when we fled Poland and while I was waiting to come to the US (in my mind, where maybe I was meant to meet you). He glanced at it for a second, smiled briefly and said "That's cool." That's cool. That was it? Like I had shown him just another book or something else equally unimportant.
"You will never understand." I say, walking away, choking back tears and words filled with anger at his lack of interest. Lack of understanding.
I know he wasn't trying to be unkind, that he just didn't grasp the full idea of what I was talking about. That he never would. He was born here in the USA, where his family for who knows how many generations had their freedoms and rights just handed to them with no worries of them being ripped away.
I show my daughters. They glance at it, my older daughter asks a couple of simple questions, as though this was just another cool looking town to live in, then they walk away.
I'm left holding a picture that means nothing to anyone other than myself.
To everyone around me, it's just a postcard. A photo of some far off place. But it's something much much bigger to me.
It is where I lived as a political refugee, 2 years old, having left the country I was born in, having left with my parents away from my family, away from my birth language, not knowing where I was going to live for the rest of my life.
In limbo. Living on kindness and a prayer. Eating Potato Soup.
My mother's belly growing with the baby brother who would be my closest friend forever.
And growing stronger because of all of it...