Monday, February 14, 2011

please remain quiet and respectable

I don't dream often of Bryan. I had a phase of vicious recurring nightmares in the spring and summer, but since, my few dreams of him are very good. In most I'm unable to really connect with him-- he's preoccupied, talking to someone else, working-- but I am always happy to see him and follow after him, and he always looks healthy and exquisitely handsome. They're reassuring glimpses of him in another life, where he is healthy and well and does not need me. The other night I dreamt I found him with another girl. I wasn't hysterical about this, but quite calm-- get rid of her, please. He seemed noncommital. Perhaps he would, perhaps not. I was patient but firm.

I woke from this dream in a dormitory bed in Krakow, Bryan's urn in the wardrobe. Sometimes waking life is far stranger than even the dreams formed in the mourner's subconscious.

I am staying with my lovely friend Tomcat (longtime friend via writing and online travel communities). Having a beautifully English fluent, licensed tour guide at your personal disposable is quite a luxury. Days wandering the city, scaling up the passageways of Wawel Castle, through the streets of Kazimierz (former Jewish district, now a bohemian enclave of cafes and boutiques), stopping to admire monuments and the details of the architecture. What does this say, Tomcat? Who is this, Tomcat? What does all this mean? I fear I'm trying her patience (in my high school French class, the teacher told us if ever we were embarassed or confused in Europe to just explain, je suis une americaine stupide-- I'm a dumb American-- and all would be forgiven), but I am grateful for the intelligent company.

In some way, I hoped this trip would be a return to form: an end to the grieving me, who can indifferently pass the day YouTubing British sitcoms or wandering aimlessly around Flint lost in thought, and a circle back to the passionately curious me. The adventurous me, who traveled the world alone and spent days trawling city streets and art museums for mental sustenance. England was a bland start (how I mourn your Walmart takeover, your flavorless Americanization), but I am slowly waking up in Poland. My mind begins to spark and reel. Who are these kings and saints, their echoing voices in this beautifully preserved cities? Perhaps the alcoholic vitality of cherry vodka and mulled wine (not together, of course) helps, too.

Yesterday we toured Wieliczka salt mines-- impressive, vast system of mines dating back to the Middle Ages, complete with chapels carved out of salt, the slowly eroding faces of the Virgin Mother and King Casimir the Great. A sign on a chapel wall said, please remain quiet and respectable. I thought that the best possible advice for a tourist--a widowed one with a head full of strange dreams and a brain cranking and shuddering back to life after too many episodes of Nevermind the Buzzcocks and The Royle Family. Please remain quiet and respectable; observe all this, process it.

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