Today, one year ago…. I started and amazing three week adventure. It was on August 14th, 2011 that I left my home in Florida and flew to Chicago, then Warsaw, and finally to Gdansk, Poland, arriving there about noon on August 15th. What happened to me over the next three weeks was truly magical. I spent three weeks with my cousin Alicja and her family and extended family. We traveled for 12 days (and over 3000 kilometers) through Poland, Romania, and Ukraine. I met family that I had never known. I was the birthplace of my great-grandparents, walked the roads they walked, saw the river they swam in, visited the Churches at which they’d worshipped.
But that’s not all. I also gained an immense understanding of Poland and what it means to be Polish. I gained a sense of history and culture. I saw castles, churches, cemeteries, and other sights that dated back hundreds of years. I learned a lot about this history of the region–much of it grand and glorious, but some of it from a darker era as well. And yet, I am not done. In the past year I have learned more, constantly. I often look back at this blog and re-read parts of it, look at my pictures, or end up engaged in yet more research, learning, trying to understand, and appreciating where my ancestors came from and what it meant to them to be Polish.
My journey is not done. I will go back. Sooner, I hope, rather than later. I’ll visit my cousins and family again, but I’ll also explore new sights. I cannot wait to return and I dream of it often. But until then, I have many very good memories to comfort me, memories of that trip that began just one year ago today.