For my last night in Kikol, Tomek arranged for a party just for me at Kayman's pub.
"Who is coming to your party?" my mom asked, when we phoned her. I had no idea.
My party ended up having five guests: Tomek, Ala, Kayman, his girlfriend and me. I barely said a word throughout the evening, and with Tomek chugging down beers and snorting some of Kayman's tobacco he got from Amsterdam (I never knew you could do such a thing, but it's true. Makes your eyes water apparently), I think it was more a party for him. But it was still nice anyway.
When we walked home from the pub, Tomek pointed out the stars which shone almost as bright and brilliant as they did that evening in Lake Tahoe where I had my moment of What am I doing with my life? I looked up and tried to be introspective, considering how much my life has changed since that moment, but then Tomek interrupted me by pointing out the North Star and babbling about other constellations that I could not understand.
This morning when Tomek and Ala dropped me off at the station, I thought Ala would burst into tears. I, too, have grown quite accustomed to them this past week, with their twice-daily ham enriched meals, watching "Jaka to melodia?" (Name that song) and Ala's "serial" (soap opera) on television, speaking to all of their family members on Skype on a daily basis and playing Suduku with Ala on the computer.
One of the Polish serials I watched this week.
"Are you sure one sandwich is enough for you?" Ala asked, as I made myself a ham sandwich for the road. It was a three-hour journey after a big breakfast. I was sure.
I was sad to go but I did breath a sigh of relief when I boarded the train. It was the first time I have been alone in a week.
I met Jurek at the bus station, and from there, we went to his home, the place I started this trip. When I arrived, it was a disaster area. Construction workers were installing cabinets and there was non-stop hammering, the smell of paint, men yelling, Jurek and Basia running around, acting stressed. I felt completely in the way. Of course they fed me, and we spoke a little about my trip, but for most of the day, I was off on my own. I took a long nap, read my book, watched Polish tv, frantically looking for Jaka to melodia? with no luck. Home-sickness washed over me, which was slightly relieved by the visit of Jurek's brother, wife and two sons. Tomek, the youngest son, kept looking at me with interest (Who is this strange American person?) while the eldest son was baffled that I put milk in my tea.
"I never knew you could do that!" he said, stunned.
I wanted to buy a cd of Polish Christmas music and Jurek's brother picked two up for me, and when we played it, I nearly started crying listening the familiar music, almost hearing my grandmother singing along in the background like she used to.
Can you tell I am ready to go home?
Slowek, Roman, Tomek and Ola.
Jurek, me, Tomek, Slawek, Roman and Basia. The leaf in front of Jurek's face was intentional.