My husband, the hopeless romantic, and I, the consummate dreamer, decided after almost four years of traveling and living out of a suitcase that it was time to settle down. During our time on the road, each time we landed somewhere the discussion was always the same. “Could I live here” was the question and the conversation pursued.
We talked about ease of getting around, the possible language barrier (generally for me since Zdzich speaks four languages and I just barely speak English), the food, the politics and people, things to do, places to travel to that are nearby. We talked about moving to Spain, France and Italy, which are our favorite destinations. We worried about missing family and especially the grandchildren. We discussed growing old in a foreign country and death. We calculated our savings time and time again. We talked about our fears, trepidations and intimidations. And we found that these discussions brought us closer together.
Through this process, we eliminated and cleared the clutter that although we had no personal belongings left we did have mind clutter and emotional baggage that we needed to let go of. Both of us had stuff, the kind that is swept under the carpet to fester. But wait a minute, all we wanted to do was decide on a place to live and then this bag showed up at the door. A big one too! One for each of us that needed to be dealt with and sifted through.
After 3 marriages for both of us, we had lots to release, lots to forgive and let go, lots to be grateful for, lots to look forward to. We spent our days and nights talking about what this move meant to both of us. What settling down away from what we were accustomed too was going to mean and how we would function.
After a trip around the world in the later part of 2015 we finally came to the decision that our first home abroad would be Poland. Believe it or not there are many reasons to want to reside in Poland. A country that has a tumultuous history is also one of strong and determined people. They suffered so much loss but are full of love and humor.
We knew we wanted to live somewhere in Europe within the EU and when we looked at a map, Poland was in the center. Since we both love to travel that was a big push for us to live in Poland. Getting anywhere in Europe either by plane, train, bus or car is easy and inexpensive. Being in the EU brings ease of travel and makes other personal concessions mindless. Cell phones and health care is all interchangeable, so it almost feels like we are in the US. Zdzich, being a Polish citizen, allows for this ease. I hope to become a Polish citizen within the next few years, that is if I can ever wrap my tongue around this language.
We agreed right from the beginning that we wanted to live in a historic building. And although we did look at units in newly built complexes, we kept going back to our love and warmth of being in New England. Altogether we viewed around twenty units and spent hours on the internet looking in the wee hours of the night.
Because we also both love the outdoors we wanted a balcony. Because we love to travel so much a house was out of the question. We wanted something that we could lock the door and go without having to think about upkeep. We saw ourselves sitting on the balcony, having an herb garden and some flowers. A little place to escape too.
The other things that were important to us was a building that had an elevator. This is hard to find in the older buildings as under communism buildings only were allowed an elevator if they were over five stories high. And although my first love is an attic unit with the awkward ceiling line, climbing ninety-five stairs several times a day seemed a bit out of the question as we age. And although I hate to talk about age in that way, I had to be real.
Then it was dealing with the car. Just how much longer would own one, do we really need it or want it? Winters are harsh, we need a garage, or do we?
After what seemed like an eternity, we finally saw a building and without even entering, knew that this was the one. It was sheeted and we couldn’t even see the front of it, but it had a rich history. Built in 1915, this old tenement has stories to tell and I felt like it was ready for a new beginning.
So, although we let go of the elevator (the unit is on the second floor), the garage – not in a historic building, balcony – traded for big windows we feel like we won something else, something we didn’t expect. A feeling….
The seven-foot windows blast light throughout the space. The original parquet floors are in nearly perfect condition and all in place waiting for their new family. The eleven foot ceilings bring an air of elegance and the original double paneled doors welcome you to settle in and get comfortable.
In Poland, when you purchase a unit, it is empty, totally, no kitchen, bath, appliances. You buy the space and the walls and then it is up to you. In this case, the building is going through a historic renovation both inside and out. The unit is just as it was left, holes in the walls and all. Everything, down to where the electrical outlets go is up to us. Thrilling, scary, ludicrous, outrageously exciting; all kind of mixed up together.
The journey is just beginning. We both know that there will be times of joy and times of fear. Times of excitement and times of wanting to throw in the towel. Times of love that we have not yet experienced and times of disappointment. It’s crazy to say though, I think we are ready for whatever comes our way.