Monday, November 17, 2014

It's all the same to me

We met with some new/old friends over the weekend for dinner. Both husband and wife speak excellent English. They also have 5 children and began homeschooling this year, so you know, lots in common.

 The question was asked: How is your Polish?

I gave the same answer I give everyone. "Not so great. I really don't have the time, energy, or motivation right now to learn, I get around fine."

The truth is, I get around fine. I don't like talking to people in Polish but I can and I do. I avoid conversations if I can and I remain silent most of the time we visit family and friends who don't speak English. Aside from the exhaustion of trying to keep up with the conversation and translate as well as keep my eyes on the kids and manage to scarf down the food before it's removed from the table -  I really just don't mind silence. Or rather, I don't mind me getting to be silent. I'm not a naturally gregarious person, so sitting quietly while Martin visits with family is fine with me. All my friends speak English, otherwise we wouldn't be able to be friends, so it works out for everyone really.

So after giving my regular canned response I got something unfamiliar... a laugh.

"You mean you're planning on moving even further out of town, to to a tiny village, and you don't yet speak the language? Do you have any idea what village life is like? You will be so far removed from the city and then even more removed for not speaking the language, you'll be like this princess in a tower all alone..."

This was apparently very funny. And of course, a very Polish way to say it.

I just smiled and said, "I know."

Because on the really good days I remind myself that I prefer silence. I'm too busy to really care what other people think when I don't actively seek out their opinions, and heck, this way I can avoid a whole lot of town gossip, criticisms, and just plain awkwardness. It'll be great!

And on the bad days I am reminded that not only have we moved to a foreign country which continues to be fairly foreign, where I don't speak the language, but now we are basically moving to the country surrounded by people who speak even less English than the average Pole. To the side of a hill with one close neighbor and two others who all happen to be over the age of 60 (and who keep trying to give me stuff that I don't want, and won't take no for an answer)...

My sides are splitting...

But see I get the last laugh really. For two reasons.

1) *I already live outside of town, in an isolated area that takes an hour by public transport to reach downtown, 30-40 min. by car depending on traffic. We can't even secure a decent babysitter because no one wants to travel this far and taxi drivers hate us. I already travel anywhere from 30-45 min. one direction to see the few friends I have. And all our neighbors? Over the age of 60! Isolation? Inconvenience? Village life? I've got that shizz sewn up!

Reminds me of this scene from Princess Bride. Martin is the Princess, I am the man with the bitten up shoulder from fighting giant rats. ( I know all the secrets of the fire swamp...ahem) It's so sweet, you gotta watch, she gives up her freedom so he can return to America his ship, but in reality he is just going to a different kind of fire swamp certain death.

2) This little piece of info. came across my "desk" (re: lap. while sitting on the couch drinking hot chocolate after all the kids are in bed, asleep, at the same time).

The gist: The speedy commuter rail from Wieliczka to Downtown Krakow, 20-30 min. And there is even a bus that takes people from two separate locations straight to the rail...and one of them stops right in our future little village. So by moving to a village outside of a town that's outside of Krakow we will actually be able to get to Krakow proper quicker than ever before!

It's all so funny!!

Or not. But it's good. Because I can see myself letting Hejjo and Felix, in a few years, hop on it and take themselves downtown without my help. That will be great. And some days we can ride it for fun. And did I mention it has free Wi-fi? So people who like screens can look at them even more.

Martin likes to send me these little notifications from time to time and this was his email heading...

...don't say i didn't do nothin' for youuuuuuu

He's so benevolent.

I'm the one fighting the giant rats, Martin. Me. Don't you forget that.

*This is not necessarily because we live that far from town but rather because, I swear there is a conspiracy, Nowa Huta and surrounding areas are completely neglected when it comes to roads. People avoid our area of town like the plague. (it can take over an hour to city center to travel 8km during traffic)


  1. On the one hand, I'm confused by your metaphor.
    On the other, you said "shizz" - so that's cool.

  2. You have a very nice blog; your header is lovely! I understand languages, as I live in Montreal, Canada. The first language here is French. I am English. But even though I am fluent in French some days I just prefer to communicate in my mother tongue...English. :)

  3. Hey O --

    We are coming again to Poland (longer time in Krakow on the next trip, than we had in 2014) -- would love to meet up with you and your family ....

    no worries, I speak perfect English! (I am taking a Polish language course at Eastern Michigan University starting in January, but not sure how much I will be able to learn).

    send me an email --

  4. Olivia -- your last blog post was in November -- it's now the middle of January, and I am going through "Olivia Withdrawals" ... Please post soon -- also see the message I left for you above....

  5. Great post! If you can communicate with people in another language, your skills are more than fine!

  6. Long overdue another post! I only have 2 babies and can't even keep up with email so don't blame your..!. Hope you are all well.

  7. You really live in NH? I have to polish my Polish :) to see you and talk to you.
    If you have problems with roads, we have to be neighbors!

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