I have a habit of moving a lot in my life. I accumulate more and more stuff that ends up packed away in boxes for years without a thought thrown it’s way. Vintage clothes, old charm bracelets and expired hair dye are amongst the list of these dusty treasures. Along with letters.
I still have all the letters from my first love as well as every fleeting romance since. As it turns out, I also have a stash of old letters written by my mother and father before and after my birth. Not really sure how they ended up unnoticed for so many years, heaped into a box with old tax returns and mix tapes.
But they did until now. I have been studying every detail for hours at a time since they were uncovered and it’s sort of growing into a endless fascination. You see, not only is it intriguing to read letters from your parents from before you had memories all by itself but these letters have a twist.
My mother is from Cincinnati, Ohio. She was born and raised here. When she was a young woman, she ran off to Poland to study theatre. Her fiery disposition was perfectly matched with the world of “the stage”. It was there that she met my father, a poet and in essence, a revolutionary. He was a critical member of Solidarność or Solidarity. The social movement in Poland during the 1980’s that was the catalyst to ending the Cold War. It was a trade union that fought on behalf of the worker’s rights as well as fighting for social justice and change in Communist run Poland. It was a pivotal and desperate time in the country, one that many people don’t even know about. It was the setting for a national revolution brought on by the citizens who refused to be mistreated, oppressed and stripped of their rights.
My mother and father were right in the middle of it all.
These letters that I have stumbled across are the correspondence between these two people.
I have to admit. It’s almost like being in shock when I read them. They reveal so much and in such a personal way. I almost feel as though I am reading an old biography I picked up at a second hand book store. It’s hard to explain with words. I would rather show you my way.
This is the first installment of latest project. The letter in the photograph is one from December 17th, 1981. I have transcribed it’s contents below. None of the spelling or grammar has been changed.
“If I am with Z or do I use it for Sybil and desert Z? Z can be arrested. He can also be killed. Sometimes I look at Sybil and wish she could quietly stop breathing. When she’s nursing I wish she’d drink faster and harder and more and grow big and faster. It’s not fair but I don’t know what to do with her-she’s in danger here…
Maybe we will finally take our marriage tomorrow-Z has been trying the emergency approach. He has to talk to soldiers every day.
The television news people won’t look up at us and have now read out about the pity of the death by shooting of 7 (probably more) people in the Kapalnia Wyik in Katowice. These are the 1st to die. At night we watched out and listened and thought we heard heavy armour being moved and jumped at even children’s voices in the corridor past the 10 p.m. (now 8 p.m.) curfew. In the night we wondered what was happening and what we’d know had happened, the next day. 350 people had been wounded, beaten. Today the gaz in the train station made people cry as far away as Rynek. People had been gathering to blokade the streets and ways against the advance of tanks and the tanks missled gas, at the people gathering. We were married today. They waited something late on us and we hurried there and took quick care, at last, of the final formalities. One paper says that Sybilka is not a”