For a while it seemed that absolutely nothing was happening. My life was paralyzed within the middle of the pandemic, all these pieces of the machine were stuck with nowhere to go and then in an instant everything activated at once. One of my feet was placed in Warsaw and the other was desperately trying find ground to land on, preferably in The Netherlands. I am writing to you now nestled in a living room with strawberries and chocolate cake next to me feeling more at home then I have in what seems like ages.
Let me take you back a bit, if you will. Scene is set in Warsaw, Poland and the weather is starting to heat up just as masks are no longer required in open spaces. Restaurants opened their doors, spaced their seats and masked their waiters as cautious connections began to happen again. I had give or take a month to wrap up my time in Poland and though it was chaotic, it was also crazy beautiful. My birthday was spent popping Prosecco in the park, drinking imaginative cocktails and eating Georgian food before walking home and spotting my very first hedgehog. My footsteps reverberated off blank spaces in a place I used to call my home. I couldn’t catch a wink of sleep for weeks, invisible smoke would fill my mind and my nerves would be squeezed so tight I could barely breathe.
Come June 5th, the school year ended. We worked through Spring Break, which in one sense sucked, but in another I am so damn glad it was over sooner than later. Walking down the halls lockers were gutted and the air felt heavy with memories. It’s hard. You don’t envision leaving your school or the families you worked so closely with this way. Our desks were emptied and there was a parade commencing in the front of the building. Time basically stood still as Porches, BMW’s and Range Rovers bid us adieu with tiny waving faces and occasional kids on roofs. Honestly, I enjoyed it more than I would have ever thunk, seeing as I was essentially dragged out there, but that’s our little secret okay?
I had about 27 different plans to get out of Poland, and the majority of them blew up in my face. Most of the time I knew it was coming but it still hurt. Many tears fell down my face sometimes because I was sad. I was upset I wasn’t going to be able to see my parents. I was mad that this is happening. I was sad that I was without my partner in all of this. But, one of the most amazing things I saw happen was that my support group here in Poland was ALWAYS there.
On social media it may have looked like this time was all about finding beauty in the breakdown but in real life it was messy. It was just another graceless night, walking in the park because we felt so far from those we loved. It was wine and laughter because we felt sadness and uncertainty too long. It was learning how to break things down into super simple pieces just so I could make it through the day. The first step in any way is opening your eyes, and if I could do that it was going to be a good day. Being gentle with myself was (and is still) my priority. (Because we all know that COVID is in no way over.)
This wasn’t always easy because sometimes I would wake up and it would seem that the entirety of America was aflame. If it wasn’t COVID-19 throwing some shit my way, there were armed protests at a capitol building or it was the screaming injustices that Black people face in America that broke my heart and filled my newsfeed. I had to learn to shut it off. To feel that I was falling down the rabbit hole and drag myself out of it. I had to show up for myself. Our minds are not built to take in this amount of bad news, we do not have an unlimited capacity for trauma and heartbreak, so I had to learn to pivot. I learned my limit, pull away from the screen and sit uncomfortably with myself so that I could show up for others when needed.
In the meantime, I am left grasping for words to describe my gratitude for all those who played a role in my quarantine team. How do I even go around thanking people for helping my feet finally find some solid ground? Words seem so superfluous. How do I thank people for singing our troubles away in the middle of the night as the world collapsed around us? Is there a way to describe the happiness I felt rushing down the stairs for a homemade mazurek drive by drop off on Easter day? Or how do I tell people that my veins filled with golden glitter every time I saw them after being alone for so long? How does one simply say, thank you for showing me your hometown and sharing your bits of fear and anxiety with me so that we can get through this alright together? How can I ever describe the relief my skin felt when the warm rain cloaked it and the thunder shook the world a bit to wake me up to it’s beauty? A simple thank you for sending flowers filled with love, having dance parties through phones and a forbidden hug when I felt like I was about to fall apart, a simple bit of gratitude just won’t due. But I suppose the greatest gift I was given was the gentle shaking and shaping of my perspective, just so that I could recognize life’s tiny miracles that unfold every day allowing the chance for me to be, happy.