Tuesday, September 12, 2006

a rainy afternoon, looking at pictures of Poland...

My namesake, Sara Louise Bradshaw, of Jacob Have I loved, describes spring: "Every spring a waterman starts out with brand clean crap pots...That's the way I started out that spring. Shiny as a new crab pot, all set to capture the world." ( p. 202)

That's how I see September. You know, bouquets of sharpened pencils...I don't think it's a mistake that the Jewish calendar puts New Year's at this time of year.


But today was rainy, buckets, and all I had was my slicker. I have once again lost my pink umbrella in my tiny garret. My slicker is yellow, like my momma's, and I got it at the LLBean outlet in March. This morning I had the Bellefield Women's Bible Study Breakfast, which was over around noon. I had a doctor's appt at 1:30. My doctor's office was around the corner, so after I ate lunch, I hung out in the University of Pittsburgh bookstore. I spent most of the time sitting on the floor, poring through travel books for Poland, well, Warsaw, specifically. I had forgotten the names of streets and I had the best fun looking at maps, reading about the history, the sights, the city that for me is Paris on the Vistula.

(Background: when I graduated high school, my parents moved to Warsaw, Poland for three years. They just happened to be the most exciting three years you could pick: 1989-1992, when communism fell and the economy went private. Lucky duck for my dad that he was the head of Economics Dept. at the US Embassy--he worked 24/7 those three years. I visited them seven times: every summer and every Christmas. Um, and if you clicked on the Warsaw link: they've come a long way, baby, in fifteen years.)

When I was in college, my roommate Andi made a point to get to know the Eastern Shore of Maryland where we were situated. She knew the locals (and dated more than one townie) and drove her red pick-up from Chestertown to Rock Hall to Delaware, where there was no sales tax. "Wouldn't it be great," she'd say, "To be able to say, I lived here for a little bit but I got to know it, really know it." I thought of her saying that, yesterday when as I walked on paths I'd not yet walked in the Highland Park. I know that park like the back of my hand--I've been walking it for a good eight years or so. But there are still surprises.

So for me, I want to get to know Pittsburgh, and the East End particularly, like the back of my hand. I don't care if I never get to Paris, but I want to roam the streets of Warsaw again, walking the places I've walked before, and discovering new paths in the parks. I want to see the peacocks at Wazenki Park and hear Chopin played on a pianon outside on a Sunday afternoon in front of a huge sculpture of the Polish composer. The first Andy Warhol exhibit I saw was one that traveled to the National Museum. I remember shoes and shoes and shoes and Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor...

I recently found a letter from an old college friend. He and I were in a summer school program in Vienna, Austria. In the letter he was responding to, I'd written, "and I only want to be in Warsaw, riding the trams late at night." He wrote "I've never been there but I hear you sister loud and distant." He goes on to reminisce about times we spent at Upper Belvidere, a palace near where we lived for three short weeks in Vienna.

Not to paint a rosy picture of my past: my summers in Poland while I was in college were long and boring. The library at the Embassy was abyssmal. TV was in Polish. Mail from the US took weeks. This was before email.

I didn't really speak the language,
I held some currency,
and I saw angels in the architecture. (with apologies to Paul Simon)

1 comment:

MsCellania said...

Reading you every day, my dear.
And enjoying it.
Wish I could come explore with you. Pittsburgh is a great city.
But Paris? It is a wonderful, breathtaking place! If you go back to Poland, carve out a coupla days for Paris on your way back to the States.