Our final moments of family time

The last four weeks have consisted of innumerable hellos and goodbyes. We have lived out of our suitcases; unpacking and repacking every few days. In 28 days we have slept on an airplane and in seven different beds. Tomorrow, if everything goes well, we’ll split up the night between a bus and hopefully our own bed.

A before photo of the suitcase

The first week in Poland, I struggled. Despite having traveled here for over 11 years, it always starts off feeling unfamiliar. Not speaking the language nor fully understanding the culture is overwhelming. I longed for the comforts of home, the ability to understand what was being said around me and to communicate for myself. I missed my friends, my family and my ability to be independent. Here, due to the language barrier, I heavily rely on Michal to translate the world around me. This process is exhausting, and often frustrating, for the both of us.

Enjoying a pint of Guinness during a layover in Dublin

About two weeks into our trip, I felt like I had hit my stride. We were in an area where more people spoke English, I began to feel more comfortable branching out on my own and slowly the small things that originally seemed so abnormal just began to be a part of daily life. I slowly began picking up bits and pieces of conversations in Polish and finding myself able to respond in English.

It is hard to believe that our trip is wrapping up. While it started off slowly, now it’s difficult to believe that our time in Poland has ended. I’m writing this on a train, the first step of our long journey home.

Old Town Warsaw at Night

At the beginning of the summer I was not excited about spending a month in Poland. I longed for relaxation along the Mediterranean, exploring ancient islands of Greece or discovering more of my favorite country, Croatia. Much to my surprise, Poland turned out to be better than I expected. It was interesting to travel to Poznan and Warsaw. Both of those cities were so different from each other and remarkably different than Koszalin, the city that Michal is from. It was interesting to seeing how the culture varies in different cities. Of the cities we visited this summer, I think Warsaw was my favorite. Despite being enormous, I appreciated the diversity and the history. My favorite place we went this summer was Bobolin, a small village close to the sea.

Sunset over the Baltic

Water has a way of cleansing my soul and enveloping me with a sense of calm I cannot find elsewhere. It was a perfect place to recuperate from three weeks in cities. It allowed me time to refocus, to settle down and to reflect on things that needed my attention and thought.

Here we are, on the move again. At the beginning of my blog posts this summer, I mentioned how beautiful and difficult it is being married to a man from another country. That hasn’t changed. I am thankful for the opportunity to discover more of his country, get to know his family a little more and learn to assimilate to his culture. However, here we are in that in-between. Heading away from one family and back to another. We are flooded with a mixture of sadness, emotional exhaustion, longing and anticipation. In the last four weeks, we have not figured out a way to merge our families to a more central location or figured out how to teleport ourselves. This constant state of longing and never feeling like we’re in the right place is to be continued. At least we have each other.

As for now, we are slowly making our way back to the United States. Because our families live nowhere near a large transportation hub, this journey is long and exhausting. Currently we are on a train. The train ride should last around 3 hours. Followed by this, we’ll be a bus for 2.5 hours to Berlin. We’ll spend the night in Berlin and try to get as much rest as we can prior to tomorrow’s trip.

Tomorrow we’ll check out of the hotel around 9:30 (3:30 AM EST), fly to London (where we only have a one hour layover) then fly to JFK. If all goes well, we’ll take a train from JFK then catch a bus from Port Authority to Ithaca. We should arrive home around 2 AM (8:00 AM Polish time) Sunday morning.

I am looking forward to my own bed, to unpacking my suitcase and just staying in one place for a little while. I am yet undecided how I feel about once again being able to understand the world around me. Sometimes not understanding has its advantages.