Waking up the next day was a prolonged process it wasn’t until afternoon had long made it’s arrival that my eyes peeled themselves open. My stomach had fangs of hunger but my body was a victim of gravity refusing to put up any kind of fight. Luckily, my newly found neighbour met me outside and shuffled my attached sack of bones to a public market where I would be meeting a good number of returners from work.
As the ground shifted under my weight I was surrounded by different food carts and neon signs that advertised street food that sizzled and popped with our every footstep. On my right there were hotdogs, chicken kabobs, a shrimp station, Hungarian fried bread and on my left there were food trucks tossing out dumplings and beer to anyone willing to shell out a few zlotys. I nestled myself among friendly strangers with a beer winking playfully at me and samosas begging to be eaten.
But I was tired. There were so many people. How the fuck did they all know each other? There was only one new person with me. Everyone kept introducing themselves. I couldn’t remember a damn person’s name. I could only distinguish them by accents and countries they are from. Solid foundation. I swallowed my words and remained uncharacteristically introverted for the night. It had seemed that panic and nerves gotten the best of me. I painted a Cheshire smile on my face and watched the time drain from the night as the beer disappeared from my cup, soon enough everyone’s cup was empty.
We had one more day left until my report date and it was to be spent finding new sites to see. My neighbor had asked if I wanted to go to a museum and blindly I obliged. Standing at the gates of the Gasworks Museum one is surrounded by brilliantly restored neoclassical brick buildings with occasional blasted windows adorning bulletholes that have survived since 1888.
Fun fact: this part of the city was not completely destroyed due to the reliance on gas, although some of the buildings had to be rebuilt after the war but opened quickly in 1945.
Throughout the museum one sees the evolutionary process of nearly all things reliant on gas. The smell of gasoline surrounds every fiber of your being, chunky and massive machinery that would once supply the city’s gas sit heavily on the tile coated in a healthy layer of aging rust inches from where you find your fragile self standing. Hallways are adorned with stoves, refrigerators and gas lamps from every era (some of which can be found on Warsaw’s pathways). There are tiny rooms that paint a picture of what a kitchen would look like in decades past. Photos are hung on the wall with care, with explanations only locals can read but images that speak universally. Our brains began choking on the gas infused air and the sky was filled with angry signs so we found our way back home slipping in and out of establishments that promised hops and feed.
Upon the next sunrise I found myself in orientation sorting through personalities as if they were paint swatches. Trying to find a hue that complements mine just perfectly. Careful I don’t settle on a shade too close that will surely end up clashing into the night. Avoiding opposite ends of the spectrum just because the edges get lonely sometimes, although they can be quite lovely I must admit. Luckily, I found a few like me a little left of center in our own unique ways and soon enough the ink started spilling onto our new unwritten chapter in Warsaw…