Monday, June 18, 2007


I have felt a bit paralyzed since returning home from Poland. The only times that I get to feeling comfortable are when I'm sleeping (when I can sleep) or working in the garden. I was home for just a few days last week when I took off and drove down to Tennessee to spend the night and my parents' house. I'm glad that I followed my flight instinct, because on Friday I met up with my dad for lunch, and we ended up sitting and talking for about three hours. With us both returning from far off places to meet at granny's funeral, I think that none of it really sunk in until a few days after the fact. We could finally talk about losing granny and finally talk about our foreign adventures. There was a lot to talk about, and I suppose there still is.

One thing that I kept feeling when I was in Poland and Ukraine was this strange sense of understanding when my local hosts would hint at these undercurrents of resentment and/or other indescribable emotions toward neighboring nations (Russia, Poland and German for the Ukrainians and Russia, Germany and Ukraine for the Poles). As a Southerner, I could relate on a certain level to these feelings some of my new friends would allude to. But there was no way I could really communicate this to my fellow traveller, who wasn't from the South. I was both surprised and relieved when talking to my mom about my trip, that she actually brought up the mutual understanding that Southerners could have with the Polish people. I told her how one of the most interesting things for me was when I got to spend some time hanging out with a young Polish woman my own age, and how she talked about the process she had gone through with her feelings toward German people. First hating them for all the recent history, then falling in love with a German boy in college and making some really good German friends. Then being treated like a piece of "Polish trash" by a German man her dad's age that she met while traveling in Ireland and feeling those resentful emotions rekindled. Mom made the comment that as Southerners it was easy to relate to being automatically treated a certain way by people when we travel. Reconstruction wasn't as recent nor as horrible as what happened to Poland, but those feelings really do continue, and it is a difficult thing to describe to people who have never felt that. I have an uncounscious tally stored away of particularly nasty encounters in which mere strangers have treated me like I was stupid or backwards or racist or all of the above, simply because they heard my accent or learned that I was from the South. You don't forget those moments, and it makes you automatically weary and/or suspicious of folks you meet when you travel. For her it was Germans and Russians. For me it is Northerners and Californians. We both have friends from those places, but there's this unspeakable divide. I hope I got this down in a manner that does not offend my non-Southern friends. It's just something that is there and very difficult to describe, but if you're a Southerner or Polish, you may just know what I'm talking about.

Enough banter. Sunday evening, I managed to weed a good portion of the garden and plant basil and peppers next to the tomatos, squash and butter beans in with the corn and plant a good three rows (well, 9 rows if we're talking actual plants) of Cajun Jewel okra. I hope to clear the rest of the weeds out and plant a few other okra varieties and some more basil later this week.

Today was another day that I could not make myself go into work, instead choosing to catch up on emails and other projects from home. I think that I have it set so that I can do almost all my summer work away from the office. This will make easier the inevitable transition (my insides keep screaming "Must move SOOOOON!").