Catalogue | Souvenirs | E-mail | Links
«almost ready... | Front | and... »

April 03, 2005
i was just a little boy anyway... the wind is pulling and pushing the apartment door like a mad person. i am not going to let him in anyway, so he better stop. in the living room, a light grey spider clang to the ceiling right above my head as i was removing most books out of the bookcase, so i could connect my wireless hub to an outlet behind this black iron piece of furniture. i then noticed that my hub comes with a fat brick, which would let the bookcase stand half a foot away from the wall. since i have no idea where i put a simple extension cord, I will need to wait for the hardware store to open, so i can exchange an extension cord for a bunch of pieces of paper with george washington on them. the apartment looks as if somebody with a serious case of adult add lived here. maybe, wait a second... the first time i heard about the pope being polish was in the back seat of our car, in poland. i remember that we were going to visit that little cabin we had rented in the mountains. i was again about to throw up, the dog was stepping all over me, there were curves and bumps and chickens on the road, and my father had yet to learn how to properly use the clutch. it was an incredible surprise that there would be or even could be a polish pope. i mean, the pope was supposed to be that italian guy in vatican and he was supposed to just sit there and wait and... what did the pope do really? so the pope was polish. and everybody concurred that it was a miracle. and i think we almost cried because of that. we knew that this was a sign from somewhere that things were about to change in a major, major, major way. it was as if it finally were time to do something good to poland. i know this all sounds very strange to anybody who has never lived in that country maybe even to some who did... or maybe i was just a little boy. and the italians went crazy when the polish pope started to just speak to them in italian. and then we also found out that he spoke so many other languages. he was a bit of a superman that pope. we all knew all about him and we had serious speculations. he might have been the first pope who had been in love with a girl before he became a priest and he also was really good on skis and he was overall a really good looking guy. and my grandmother looked a bit like him. and that was special too. (he would close his eyes almost and just leave one open... and my grandmother would do the same, and so would i... and i still do.) and i think i was just a little boy, but it probably was a bit more than that. and then the pope came to visit poland. and he stepped out of that plane and he went down to his knees and he kissed the ground. and we went crazy. i do not think it it possible to explain how we felt when he did that... he came to poland, who loved him, and he kissed her... now that was a pope, the holy father, our very own pope. the very first stamps i ever bought in a special philatelic store in cieszyn (tsiesheen) for all the money i had for that day (i think it was 70 zloty) the very first stamps i bought were the ones to commemorate the first visit of the pope to poland. i remember bringing the stamps home to discover that there was a little black spec on the largest one. i could not remove it properly, so i used steam and then water, removing the black spec and also the glue... basically removing the 70 zloty value of the stamps as well... crazy? indeed, it was crazy. it was crazy because suddenly there were stamps of the pope, the ambassador of the catholic church in my stamp album right next to lenin and the first may celebration stamps that were somehow much more common around that time in poland. so it was a big deal. the pope was polish and he was the emperor of poland and he was ruling with a very soft spoken army, placed very well in buildings all over the nation, giant buildings with crosses on their roofs and with paintings of mary under their roofs. and he really was so incredibly polish and humble and good. and he even put this giant M into his crest. M for mary and for magdalene and we all knew what that meant. it was as if we were a bit invincible now... and so when the strikes began... the crosses worked as protective shields for all the workers... those who lived and even those who were killed. and when things got really bad and when there was no food in the stores, just empty shelves and maybe boxes with tea, my mother told me that we would go to visit the pope. seriously. we would go and see the pope. in italy, in rome, in the vatican. the pope. he was a polish pope. so we were not technically going to the west. we were somehow about to travel to the west to the vatican, which was currently a polish city... and everybody understood... it was really somehow impossible to get passports to travel to the west... but we were going to see the pope. everybody got that. and so we all got passports. and even the dog came with us. to see the pope, to see the pope. we never made it to italy. we never made it to rome. the vatican. but because of the pope we made it past the polish border and then past the czech border and into austria, where the rules were very different and where we danced in a field outside of vienna because we were now free. the pope had managed to open a door for us. and we walked through that very barely open door. and so did thousands of other polish people in the summer of 1981 and then by december 13th all the doors were closed, all of them, marshal law was introduced in poland, but poland would be fine... it had the polish pope. and people in germany did not really understand. but that was okay. fifty percent of them were protestant anyway. those were the people who did not even have saints. the pope was a saint... and maybe i was still a little boy. and i never managed to go to rome. and the pope kissed about one hundred other places. but i would not be here and i would certainly not write this in english if it were not for that polish pope... and i knew that i would remember where we were when the pope died... and my mother called me and left a message. she said he died at 21:21... which then apparently was 21:37 or 9:37 and they were all magical numbers and we were in the apple store... and it all really made sense... completely. full clarity... yes it might not make sense to anybody else... and the church was closed when i tried to just go in there this morning. but that does not really matter... i think i am going to call my uncle in poland now... oh and that article in the new york times this morning put me back to kraków quicker than i could have ever imagined: There were not very many tears, though some people did weep. It was more a kind of awed and pensive stillness under the dark sky. Candles lined the windows of the residence; in the distance was the sound of a siren. And then, around 10 p.m. on Saturday, the people who had been standing through a chilly evening for hours praying for the pope learned he was dead. They sank collectively to their knees. (more*)