Hello KuKd Tribeswomen and Inquisitive Guests, from a youth hostel in Krakow, Poland, which is so ridiculously crammed with tourists (yes, we're two of 'em) that we're leaving tomorrow before I have an anxiety attack.
For the past three weeks, I've learned a lot about everyone's favorite cocktail chit-chat topic: World War II history, and the many horrific ways in which the Baltic and Eastern European people, including but not limited to the Jews, were seriously, hardcore screwed (for lack of a better word) by two sadistic assholes . I do vaguely recall my elderly European History teacher from 9th grade saying something about how Hitler and Stalin were "real bad guys," but at the time I was way more focused on flipping my newly permed hair in just the right way so that I'd get the attention of the cute new guy in the class. And if my teacher ever said anything about the grim fate of the Poles and Lithuanians and Latvians, it most definitely fell on deaf double-pierced ears.
Today, we visited Auschwitz. Now, you all know the basic gist of Auschwitz and the atrocities that went on there. So I won't launch into that, or how disturing and distracting it was to hear Russian tourists yap loudly on their cellphones and slurp icecream bars in the background while I was trying to concentrate on close-up shots of emaciated child-victims of Nazi medical experiments.
The one thing that got me was a collection of very realistic drawings by an Auschwitz survivor, one of which was entitled "Goodbye My Dear." It depicted a young couple on the platform where they separated men from women and decided who would go straight to the gas chambers, the young man in a suit kissing his pretty, concerned wife and two children goodbye. Ouch, ouch, ouch. Like triple ouch.
In a moment of a moment of self-reflection, I realized how pathetically miniscle my problems seem by comparison. God, I'm living on easy street, with a husband who's my best friend, a dog who loves me even when I haven't showered in days, nobody threatening to shoot me in the head, two eyes that see and a brain that works, and much, much more. I read or heard once, probably from one of those BOGS in some book, that grief and gratitude form a circle where they blend into one another. At first I thought that sounded retarded, but now I totally get it. And three weeks of traveling here has pushed me a little bit more toward, or further into, the "gratitude" piece of that circle.
So here's what I'm going to do tonight: I'm going to tell K that I love him, even though he's not that into sentimental conversations, that I appreciate everything he is and does, and wouldn't ever want him to change. And I'm going to try, from this day forward, to say a little "thank you" to the sky each day, or every other day at least, for giving me such an amazing person. I challenge all y'all to do the same, this very day. Like, right now if you can. Think of that one person you'd die without, or at least be seriously F'ed up without, and tell them or e-mail them how much you love them. You don't even have to relate it to Auschwitz - they might think it odd if you do - but you can if you want.
Oh, and while I'm on the subject of gratitude, I'd like to give a personal shout-out to Elsa, who recently posted on my guestbook, which I would link to right now but this Krakow computer isn't letting me - probably all those drunk Brit tourists' fault. So you'll just have to click on the upper righthand side to view her post. Elsa is a very strong, recent KuKd Momma and has dreams to go to Cameroon and keep making sarcastic jokes. I have a feeling she will in the not-too-distant future, and that Zachary is keeping her little one company up there.