I’ve been sitting on this post for awhile
now. I guess that’s obvious by the amount of
time that has passed since my last post. This
post is deeply personal to me and I feel a
little vulnerable putting it out there. But
the time to take counsel of my fears has
passed, and it’s time to not listen to any
fear, to paraphrase General George S. Patton.
While visiting Poland, the hotel where I was
staying was about two miles away from the
casino where the poker tournament I was
covering was being held. I decided that
walking to work would be a good way to get
outside and fight off the winter blues.
Along the way, I noticed on my left a large
overgrown area surrounded by a large fence,
and inside I could see what looked like a
couple of sheds. It looked like an old
orchard, with the old farmhouse sitting
there. I thought it was some sort of
historical reserve and made a note to leave
earlier the next day so that I could explore
The next morning, I walked along the fence
and found a gate. There was a sign up, but
not being able to read Polish would be the
excuse I would use if I got in trouble. The
gate was open anyway, so I didn’t think I was
I walked onto a little road, and on each side
of the road was little plots of land with
little houses. Some of the yards were
overgrown, some were well-kept. Both added to
the charm of the place. I wandered around in
a daze, wondering if what I was seeing was
I noticed a woman working in her yard, and I
said, “Hello? Hello?” She was bent over,
working with her hands. She paused. Didn’t
look up. Then she kept on with her handiwork.
That made me fall in love with the place.
See, I didn’t fit. I’m just some dumb
American standing there with a camera in my
hand. And she ignored me, like she should. I
was in her space. I was in her country. And I
didn’t even have the decency to try to say
“hello” in her language.
I kept walking.
As I walked, I kept wondering how a little
beautiful secret place like this could be in
a metropolitan area like Warsaw, Poland. I
felt like Harry Potter, when he went to the
train station he had been to over and over
again, and his friends said, “You have to run
at that column as fast as you can, and you’ll
go right through.” He ran and found a whole
hidden world he didn’t even know existed,
even though it had been under his nose the
I think the place is where Warsaw workers go
to get away on the weekends. Just a little
cottage, with a bed and a sink and a small
stove and maybe an old record player and a
few books. And they go there and putz around
and don’t do much of anything for a weekend.
And I would love to have a place like that.
But it wouldn’t be my weekend getaway.
After the kids grow up and leave our home to
go out and take on the world, Banu and I are
going to buy a little piece of land hidden
away in some secret place, and we’re going to
build our little cottage. I’ll go out and
prune the tree. Banu will make a little loaf
of bread and some stew for dinner. She’ll
plant some daffodils and I’ll replace the
little rubber washer in the hot-water spout
that’s been leaking lately.
I’ll put some Dean Martin vinyl on the record
player and we’ll sit down at the little table
and start to eat that stew Banu made. And
there’s a knock at the door. I open the door
and it’s you. I couldn’t be happier to see
you. I grab the only other chair we have and
put it at the table. Here’s a bowl of stew
for you and you have to try Banu’s bread.
It’s the best.
And we’ll eat our meal together and you tell
me about what you’ve been doing lately, and I
tell you I haven’t been doing much of
anything lately. And I’ll put another record
on. Banu pours more coffee, with a little
brandy mixed in to relax. And the
conversation will go on, the night will get
darker, colder. And I’m not sure if I’m alive
or dead, but it doesn’t really matter.