Thursday, July 20, 2006

This is uncanny

This July marks the completion of nine years since we first came to Poland. That means we are beginning our tenth year here, and I thought it would be interesting to journal the events of this tenth year, with the events of the first year as a sort of backdrop. During our first year in Poland, I sent weekly updates to a group of friends and family, detailing many of our first impressions, our language difficulties, the children's activities, and our early ministry efforts. I always tried to share the things about Poland that made living in Poland "different" from living in the states.

I thought I had saved them, but they got lost. I was heartbroken about it, because I really wanted those first-hand accounts of our first year here, written as I wrote them at the time, with a "voice" that I cannot recover nine years later. I was using AOL version 3 (I think), with a dial-up connection at the time. Would you believed one of my dear, long-time internet friend has saved those emails all these years, on an old computer? And would you believe, she is a Mac-user, as I am? Can you imagine how thrilled I was when she managed to send me two files containing all those old emails from her ancient version of AOL. Really, it's amazing, and I was so, so excited to recover those emails.

Now this is the uncanny part, and I'm still trying to figure out cause and effect. As I read through the old emails, I discovered that all of the things I remember about those early days are in the emails. So far, I have encountered nothing "new" that I had forgotten. Many of the stories I related in those early months via email are the same stories I have told in person, again and again, to anyone interested in hearing about life in Poland. Even one of my earliest blog entries, about having our apartment rewired in such an odd way, was chronicled in those emails.

So, are these the memories that I have, because I wrote about them at the time? I mean, do I remember what I remember, because I wrote it down? Or would I have remembered these events anyway, and I wrote about them at the time because they were what impressed me at the time, thus creating permanent memories whether I had written about them or not? How will I ever be able to figure that out? Mostly, I'm wondering if I should be writing more about what happens week by week, so I will be capturing or retaining memories for the future?

It's hard to say for sure, but here is part of one of those emails, written as I wrote it then, when the impression of all that I saw and encountered in Poland was still strange and new, and I could not communicate with many people.

Would you like to hear about eggs? The only kinds of eggs (jaja) available here are brown eggs. No problem. People sell them everywhere, but they are not in cartons. When you buy eggs, they put them into a little brown paper bag, and yes, they break easily. Some of the larger stores do have them in cartons, and if you get a carton, you *keep* it. Then you can take it to the little shops in the neighborhood, and they will put your eggs in that. In a store recently, I saw a little plastic "egg suitcase"--had a handle just a suitcase, and was made for storing eggs. So funny. Bet they don't have them at Walmart!

If we had a car, I think I would shop at larger stores. It's so much easier, because you can walk around and pick up your own things. In the neighborhood stores, most everything is behind the counter, and you have to ask for it. Much like the old "general stores", only they *look* more modern. I have to say "Prosze to", and point. That sort of means "It, please." I know the words for bread, juice, bananas, apple, kielbasa, sugar, and flour.

As we begin year 10 in Poland, I can say that things are much different now. I nearly always shop at the big Western-style stores; I always buy eggs in cartons (but 10 or 15 in a box, not a dozen!), and I haven't seen one of those "egg suitcases" in years...

What will I remember ten years from now, if I don't write it down today?


At 5:43 AM , Blogger HowGreatADebtor said...

Egg suitcases--Our WalMart here sells them in the camping department! :)

Colleen in Wis.


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