Of Two Worlds


As with all good things, so too has my trip to Poland drawn its end as I write this entry though it may not get posted until I am in a zone with WiFi. Nonetheless, I wanted to share some of my thoughts that I accumulated throughout this time away from home. A rant I suppose is the best way to characterize it.

To many who know me on a personal level, Poland and especially Krakow (You may know it by its English name of Cracow) itself holds a very dear place in my heart. It was a place I spent almost every childhood summer since I can remember. It was a magical place of legends and hidden history that seemed to be forgotten by most of the world that lived around it, yet every time I was there my grandmothers who I came visit, or aunts, uncles and cousins would revive it with a retelling, much in the way a spellcaster would weave a spell. These simple and yet precious moments would bring to life another world for me. Perhaps this is why I’ve clung so dearly to portal fantasy, this ability to identify with stepping through to another world.

To take this metaphor further and reflecting on the life I have lived, I do feel as though I belong to two worlds. First was, of course, my life in Canada. This has always been my every day and what I am most familiar with. The second is my time spent in Poland. My view, I do admit, may be somewhat romanticised due to only being there while on vacation but there is something about life there that’s not present in Canada and it creates a certain type of homesickness in me when it’s not there. It’s a familiarity with cultural practices and behaviours I grew up with that I’ve yet to witness elsewhere in my life up to date. Vice versa can be said for when I’m away from Canada and I think about my life there. It is where I am grounded, I have friends and family there, a network of people I interact with on an everyday basis. Sometimes, those friends feel as close as the blood family I have because they are there in my every day. The moment I step through the doors of relatives I have back in Poland though, I feel the same way.

It’s a surreal feeling to know two languages also. I’ve always taken this for granted whenever I go and it’s not until I visit a country where I am not a native speaker that I understand the implication of how powerful a language barrier can be. It is a gift to be transported halfway across the world and still understand what everyone is saying to you, even if you forget the odd word here and there. In both Canada and Poland interestingly, I have been told I have a strange accent (In English this is most noted when I pronounce fantasy character names or words I’m saying out loud for the first time) which again has marked me as not being native to one place or another.

In my teenage years, I spent a lot of time musing about what identity I have in the seas of people I would find myself meeting and navigating through. Now after thirty years of wandering and voyaging on this planet, I can safely say that I am not of one but two worlds. Two red and white flags mark my heart and half of it is always left behind in each country.