He was born and raised in Communist Poland; I grew up in the small town of Washingtonville, N.Y. He was sent to the store with the family rotation card to wait in line for Cuban bananas; I argued with my parents over making my bed. His mother was a solidarity labor organizer who narrowly avoided arrest during martial law; my mother was in the PTA. A pile of our clothes scattered on the floor of our Tarrytown apartment makes me so happy that I took that unexpected, unfamiliar trip to Katowice, Poland.
While we were warned that entering into a multicultural relationship entailed certain risks, we trusted that whatever it was that brought us together in the first place in 2004, in Poland-and had withstood transplantation to Tarrytown, where we moved a year later, would survive any tensions and miscommunications that arose. The fact is, were it not for those tensions and miscommunications, we might never have decided to be together in the first place. When we met we literally didn't speak the same language. I was in Italy staying with family, and had eventually learned of a friend who was in Poland. When I arrived in Poland I saw him, he was an intense, blue-eyed, black-clad architecture student, his name, Przemek. The next week after seeing him a few times in town he invited me to a pub to "check out his portfolio." Our lack of words forced a breathtaking directness. "Do you eat meat?" He asked, as he took a drag on his cigarette, staring at me as though my answer might reveal the very depths of my soul. (He had heard that many American women were vegetarians.) Did I have pets? He had parakeets or as they call them papugi- but one had escaped and the other he feared, would "die of a broken heart." When we next met, he brought me a poster from a KrzysztofKieslowski film that my friend had told me about. The time after that, it was a box of grapefruit; the next, a fancy bottle of cognac. When we finally went to his apartment in a crumbling Belle...
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