I think I’ve pretty much established the fact that my family’s pilgrimage to Europe last summer was one of the more important events of my life. In addition to crossing off a handful of Life List dreams, Viktor and I were able to take our children to my husband’s childhood home. From the moment they were born, I’ve wanted nothing more than to take our children to visit Poland while Viktor’s parents were still alive, and last year we were able to make that happen.
It was a big. fat. deal.
There are so many parts of the trip I haven’t shared because I truly don’t have the vocabulary to properly express their significance to me. I’ll get there eventually. There are also so many things I’ll never forget, so many meaningful moments, and I want to share a couple with you.
We landed in Warsaw after 25+ hours of travel, all of which can make a person a little hysterical, this person in particular. I vaguely remember holding my children’s hands, walking through marble floored hallways to the baggage claim, all the while rotating my head from side to side so I wouldn’t miss a moment on the ground. Viktor grabbed our luggage and allocated a piece to each member of the family while I stood open-mouthed, looking frantically from one Polish guy to another swirling around me.
It was the first time since the moment I’d laid eyes on Viktor 16 years earlier I’d ever seen another man look anything like my husband. Many other men. Multiple men looking just like Viktor!
In fact, every single man in the baggage terminal could have been Viktor’s brother; they all looked more like him than his own brother. So many Viktors in one room I didn’t even know where to feast my eyes! My sweet little hysterical babies started bleating into my ears before my brain was even able to process what I was seeing,
“Everyone looks just like daddy!” Where did daddy go? I can’t tell which one is daddy, they all look the same!”
“Mom, are you getting this? Mom! Mom. They’re all dad. Every single one of these guys is dad. But like, not dad. Have you ever seen so many ‘dad’s’ in one place?’
I know this all sounds crazy but when you don’t live in your native country as Viktor doesn’t, every time there’s a sliver of cultural identity to be found, no matter how seemingly insignificant it seems, it’s a big deal. It’s the reason I feel such pride every time I see an American flag. It represents a part of who I am, of what it means to be Allison Czarnecki.
Viktor doesn’t live in his home country, he doesn’t eat traditional Polish food, he doesn’t speak Polish all day every day, he doesn’t put his hand on his heart and sing his national anthem every time he goes to a sporting event. The very things that make my husband who he is are rarely represented in his life, and it breaks my heart.
So touching down in Warsaw and immediately seeing an entire room full of Viktors, an entire airport filled to the brim with carbon copies of my very un-American husband, was like coming home again. It was putting hand to heart and having a moment of solidarity and representation. And when my baby boy traced the names on the chapel wall at the cemetery with his fingers, and sounded out the names of the fallen men from Katyn, he marveled that another little boy somewhere in Poland spelled their name just the same way he does.
What was your most meaningful moment in the last year? I know you’ve had some good ones, so don’t hold out on me.
You can share your moment for a chance to snag a skin care Anti-Age System from Meaningful Beauty. That’s pretty fancy.