about departures

It’s been almost a year now since I quit my job as a cabin crew.

Two years of a wanderlust finished with a very laud bang: I landed heavily in a well structured society, having a very little knowledge of how does it function and even worse, how on Earth am I going to try and fit in. I quit the cabin crew job because I was exhausted. I was homesick, sleep deprived, I missed my friends and normal, human behaviors. I missed going for a beer, popping in with a cake, I was sick of begging strangers to swap their flights with me so I can go and see my boyfriend.

And so the plan was to be jobless and happy, just for a little while. It appeared to be a reasonable thing to do: take my time, enjoy life, and don’t worry about anything. I knew I worked extremely hard for the last two years, probably too hard for any of my friends or relatives to comprehend, and therefore I knew that I needed some time to recover mentally and physically before starting something new.

But this is not how the capitalist society works, and it is definitely not a plan that could be accepted as a “reasonable” one by anybody functioning in our money driven world.

So what I’d heard for the most of time since I left my job was “WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO NOW?” “WHAT JOB ARE YOU GOING TO GET?” “ARE YOU APPLYING FOR JOBS YET?”

The questions seemed to be coming from each angle, attacking me at the least expected moment and I started getting seriously worried.

I was trying to explain my idea of a frivolous existence, but with each attempt I sounded less and less convincing. The looks of “you should get a job” “you are wasting time” started to feel more and more draining, and the very idea of an easy, simple existence and taking time to figure out things slowly lost it’s own sense in the long, tiring, self explanatory process. The value of the experience, the priceless lesson of wanderlust, independence and curiosity, all that I valued so high, suddenly felt to be completely worthless in the eyes of everybody. I was, first and most importantly, a jobless young person, a serious threat to the society.

And so, the next thing I recall was running for a job interview.

And hey! I got it. A good job, so to say, relatively well paid, a kind of a job that your parents are content with.

And here I am now, not even a year later, handling my resignation form.

Why?

I proved myself I can force myself and function in the society. I can put an alarm clock every morning, and drag myself out of bed. I can get myself to the underground and coexist with all the other sleepy faced people, and with all the sleepy faced people I work with too. We can have a little laugh.

So you see, I can do all these things. I can pay my bills every month and feed myself too.

But there’s one thing I haven’t managed to do, and that thing proved to be essential for my current situation. I haven’t managed to convince myself that this is what life is about. At least not now.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that people work hard out there. Yet I can’t help feeling it’s all a game. A big, capitalist, well manipulated game, where everybody works their asses off, and the winner buys a new, bigger car, and lives in a bigger new house, or in a fancier district. It all feels like a fun game, a big fun joke, sometimes, and I rush to the shop during my lunch break so I can buy myself something fun, a pretty little t shirt or new shoes maybe?

I may, or may not have made a mistake a year ago, letting all the voices convince me that they know better. But I do feel I learnt something and I proved myself something too. I know that I can trust my own voice now.

I’ve decided to quit the society again and embrace the experience. This time, no longer alone, but with love by my side. This time I don’t worry about all the questions. I let them flow.

We’re going to leave the place we called home for almost a year now, and homeless, packed in our big backpacks depart for the big adventure.

What am I going to do next, how am I going to make my money in the future and all these tiring, big people questions, I refuse to answer them now. Pack your bags and come with us. You will be amazed with all the beautiful things it will bring out of you. Live your life. Discover the world, meet the people you share the planet with, learn about it and and keep it . The world is way too fascinating to ever leave it for later.

And am I a little scared?

I guess a little less than I should be. There’s a little voice inside me, it tells me what we’re doing is right. People talk too laud, sometimes I can’t hear myself, I get lost and confused. But this time I have no doubts about who should I listen to.

I feel free again. I feel excited and I feel a lot of different things really, but the point is, I feel. I’m alive. I’m not a robot, not a machine, I’m a free spirit, with a strong desire to observe, to learn, to get lost in the unknown.

and so, I hit the road, again

(or should I say the air?)

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the tube diary

Shallow breath, exhale

I worry about the strangers in the underground, their faces close to mine, fighting to keep the balance in the romantic embrace, sharing the common air, the common ground, the miserable reality of the seven a.m. of the tuesday morning in the rainy city of London.

I worry about the unconvincing image of the world I live in, floating in the mother Earth’s veins, the tube canals, like rats, sweaty.

Life is beautiful, I feel somewhere deep in my unconscious, deep in my London fume penetrated brain, deep in my skinny bottocks willing to run run, sat in my office, my office job, my well paid, my freedom, my nine to five, my creativity death and reborn, my little bird cage, my bills and my travels and my expenses and my tube.

ORGANIC COFFEE

ORGANIC organic ORGANIC

I worry about the cancer cells and about the fume expansions, water bills, regularity of periods, periods of the happiness and sadness, the anxiety periods, and periods of rain and droughts. About the food that goes off, about children in Africa and my children, unborn, nonexistent, about homeless dogs and pregnant woman in the tube, I worry about the crowd on the Piccadilly Circus,

I want to make the Picadilly Circus meditate. I want to tell everybody there to stop running and stop taking the bad quality photos and stop moving and I want to tell them all to stand there, their muscles frozen. I want to take my big red megaphone and from the depths of my heart say

You need to go home. You need to go home and make a cup of hot tea, and lie down in your warm bed. This is the supreme state of a mankind. Thank you. You can go now.

And so they go, because they know I talk to them from the true depths of my heart, the cardiovascular depths, from the tired, soft, pulsating organ, and so they leave the number one London tourist destination, covered in pidgeon excrements and paper bags with Costa logos, empty plastic coffee cups with names forever spelled wrong.

London would have impressed me deeply if I haven’t lost all my sensors in it’s crazy paced everyday run. That everyday life perversion I grew throughout my two years of flying around, mocking around, running away from something I can’t quite name, has turned into a real monster. Nobody has told me that the life down here is nothing but a washing machine, going round and round, morning, lunch break, going home, going to bed, morning, lunch break, going home, going to bed,

Tiring as fuck

I am sitting here, swinging my legs back and forward, drawing little cats on the sticky notes, answering the calls with that serious note of mine, smiling like oh, how I love this life, OMG, IM LIVING DA DREAM B’TCH and sometimes I do it so well I believe it, too. On the days when the rain is not pouring on the chunky, black British ground, shiny black cabs, I like to lie on the bench in the park. The planes are forcing it’s way through the big, white clouds, looking dreamy, like some ugly little birds

Shallow breath I close my eyes,

exhale

it’s oh, so peaceful

Frankfurt, Germany

Sparkling lights, Christmas trees, chocolate pretzels, hetctic crowd of warm people, hot wine, white breaths,

red cheeks, woollen hats, laud conversations, beer in the tall glasses

heart cakes saying “Ich Liebe Dich”

homeless man sitting on his bag next to the tiny, moving polar express made of matchboxes, little girl in a pretty coat watching it with a sparkles in her eyes

Her pretty coat father hustling her

Let’s go let’s go

Chocolate in the shape of a Christmas ball, chocolate in the shape of a Santa.

mummy can we buy this

(…) Christmas is typically the largest economic stimulus for many nations around the world as sales increase dramatically in almost all retail areas (…)

excuse me

entschuldigung

wie viel kostet das

sich verpissen


I’m not sure what Christmas is about, but I think it’s a kind of feeling.
A bit like, you are five years old and you are wearing a beautiful coat your parents brought. You see the small shiny polar express made from the matchboxes, a big old man with a grey beard and his dirty dog sleeping right next to him. You just stand there for the infinite amount of time watching the polar express going round and round like it was the first thing you ever saw. You can’t explain why you look at homeless old man’s express and not the fancy electric one in the shop next doors, but it is just how Christmas feels.

(…) these holiday sales reflected about 19.2 percent of the retail industries total sales that year and (…)

Ich liebe dich

about sleeping in the night and eating breakfast in the morning

For the last couple of weeks I gave up on writing.

I would probably say that for the last couple of weeks I gave up on living in some acceptable human way, and that is my only excuse for abandoning my writing.

As I opened this blog, or journal, or anything you would call the thing you are looking at in the moment, I understood how much it is missing, and for all that I have the poorest excuse the world knows: I’ve been busy.

There is not a single word about how I caught the last metro in Paris to see my old friend and spend a night in a student house that looks just like Hogwarts, nothing about how I went on my sixteen hours flight to Houston, Texas, how I visited the actual Apollo mission centre. I didn’t write a single word about how great I felt with the wind in my hair when I rented the city bike in Houston city, or how beautiful it was to get drunk on the beach of small Texas island Galveston and run in the water with my clothes wet.


I did not write a word about how after a night of no sleep I was refused to be taken on board of the plane to my country and how desperate I was to go, how much it hurt when after travelling for 12 hours I had just one day to stay at my parents house.  I probably wouldn’t even know how to explain how I tried to make that day last forever and spend some time with all the people I miss, and how it felt when I had to get up in the morning and take the airport train, again, again, again.

I moved my flat in Dubai. I packed everything I have, a mountain of books, heavy photography albums, Buddha mask made of mango tree, frozen food, all my pillows and clothes I keep on buying to make myself happy. I used some superpowers of my new flatmate and we moved it all, from A to B, so maybe I can start everything from another beginning, in another place.

I was busy and this word is empty. It doesn’t mean anything anymore. Words busy and tired lost its meaning long time ago and I naively keep on using them, with a little trust that maybe this time I will be understood and learning over and over that the vocabulary I brought from my previous life does not have much communication to offer.

Tired, more tired, the most tired

Busy, busier, the busiest

During last month I probably went around the globe some three times, but it does not impress anybody anymore, and most importantly it does not impress me.

I did not write a single word about how after a night of work I jumped on my seven hours flight to get rejected on the assessment day for my dream job, and how I cried a river in a hotel room, the place I live in, with my boyfriend holding me and patiently saying

it will be okay.

It gets my eyes wet right now when I am writing about it too, but I learnt my lesson and I am thankful for it. It always hurts to get back to ground, and I suppose it hurts even more, when you spend most of the time around thirty two thousand feet above the ground.

Growing up in the world of dreams, books, summers and winters, cats and cakes, it gets hard to face the life as it is.

I should have written about how I met an Italian stranger once walking on the Milan main square in the chilly autumn afternoon and how he showed me the city . Maybe it was the smell of the European winter and my Christmas scarf, or maybe his italian accent and refusing to speak in any communicative English, but I couldn’t stop laughing for a second.

The smell of italian bakery, Poland covered in red and yellow leafs, the taste of pierogi. My dad and sister smiling at the airport arrival doors, the wind in my hair once I opened the car window on the Texas journey, the warm nights, the cold evenings. My friend laughing at me at Paris Cité Universitaire station in the night, the wind from the massive engines tugging my uniform once I’m standing on the airport and directing my passengers to the bus. Eating cheese crepes by the river Thames and holding my boyfriends’ warm hand, birds flying around my head in Milan.

Conversations with strangers. Sun rise

from

the

plane

window.

My job is taught, but beautiful. I have too many memories to share them with my friends. I have too many memories happening to watch news. I am too busy to tell my parents where am I going next. I am excited about evenings when there is nothing to do so I can go to bed early.

I feel constantly guilty for people I care about. I feel guilty for not having answered the messages, for not meeting friends the day I was supposed to meet them. I feel guilty because I’m missing birthdays, weddings, Christmas, mother’ days, family arguments, for not knowing what day it is, sometimes even being lost in another month. I bring wrong currencies to wrong countries, sometimes I forget to eat, sometimes I eat in the night and sleep in the day.

All the things I wrote make me realise one fact, which is, I am pretty much left alone with all my memories and my work. To spend most of your time in the sky is beautiful, but pretty lonely.


My life at some point has divided into the life itself and its narration. It is the nature of my job and I don’t want you all to listen to me whining, but instead of describing the places I see and get amazed with, I thought, at once I will describe the place I am in, so maybe you can understand it a little bit.

And if you don’t, it’s okay too.

New York, New York

Do you know why did Frank Sinatra put it twice in his song? Simply because the city is so great, you need to say it twice, like some kind of magic spell. And it really is a magic spell, and a spell of all the great things too. It’s a synonym of the freedom, of if I can make it here I can make it anywhere and there is no need saying that, because once you sit on a bench in a Central Park or get into any tube station, you know exactly what do I mean. New York, New York. I packed my little suitcase and took my dad to the city that never sleeps. He took his little suitcase too. I remember how one day me, my boyfriend and my dad were sitting around the table in my parents house. They were drinking some vodka, and talking some vodka talk. My father doesn’t speak any English, so I was stuck sober between the two of them, and translating. It’s great, translating two drunk men, you can make things sound any way you want them to. I don’t quite remember why did we start talking about travelling, and where did the question came from. I don’t remember my answer for it neither, but my dad, once asked where would he like to travel to, said New York. He said that with that special look on his face. This New York sounded way too big in his Polish smaller city mouth. It sounded almost like the answer of a kid asked who does he want to be in the future, saying a rockstar with all the belief and hope painted on his face, like it was the only obvious answer. That answer would make the family laugh with the warm laugh, maybe somebody would say ah, he’s so funny even though the kid’s face would be as serious as it could get. It was long before I even thought I will ever get myself to New York. So I laughed too. I have to admit it: I fell badly for New York. I love every single street of it. I love SoHo, South of Houston, the neighbourhood of the old textile houses occupied with its new residents, standing out with its tall windows and high roofs. It has it’s own smell, the smell of an old piano and bricks. I love it’s small cafes and its old style outside fire stairs hanging on the building. SoHo looks like jazz, looks like a music, even though it’s quiet. We got ourselves lost on its streets in the early afternoon, when the Sun is not quite there and it slips through the small spaces between the old brick buildings making your eyes squint. If you are lucky enough maybe you’ll spot Leonardo di Caprio or Julia Roberts in the crowd of the people wearing washed, ragged jeans. I look inside the flat through the high open windows, there are pictures all over the walls. There are people sitting on the window frames with a glass of a white wine, there’s some quiet music playing in the back of the flat. In New York there are no curtains. Two minutes away you get to NoLita, North of Little Italy, North of Godfathers and Sopranos. When we’re passing by, me with a cup of Starbucks coffee (which I’m not a big fan of, it’s just that in this ocean of choice which New York definitely is, Starbuck’s is always the choice that’s the nearest) and my dad with a cigarette. I’m imagining I have a flat there. My flat is in the old red brick building, it has black fire stairs on the elevation and tall tall windows. When you ride on the street and look in the window in the night all you see is long rows of books, and me sitting on the wooden chair. I may be smoking a cigar or kissing with my boy, or maybe sitting by the wooden desk with a bright desk lamp lightening my face, writing something really great on the piece of paper. My cat is sitting on the window frame. I would only close my window in the winter, because this is how much I love the music of the streets in New York. This noise would wake me up. My dad loved Wall Street. When I told that to a tour guide we made friends with, he started laughing. How could anybody on earth love a street surrounded by walls? There is a lot of man in white and blue shirts on the Wall Street. They all look like they were in a hurry and they are checking their business mobile phones while standing in a queue for a hot dog and a black coffee. When they get their hot dog and a black coffee they pay for it quick, and disappear in one of the wall’s doors. The guy who is a guide and now is a friend too said that these guys in shirts running on the Wall street don’t have an easy life, he said they have no girlfriends because all they can talk about is finance. Girls don’t normally talk about finance, at least not all the time. Of course unless they are serious girls in shirts, who check their email while waiting for a hot dog on the Wall Street, but I don’t think there is too many of them. In the financial buildings there is a floor where guys in white or blue shirts leave their laundry in case so they don’t wear the same thing for a few days. There are drug and alcohol counsellors offices too, so once the men in shirts after months of working on seventeen hours shifts get a problem, they don’t have to look for help anywhere far. Working on the Wall Street means pressure. There is nowhere higher to go. Unnecessary a comfortable place to be, if you asked me. We got lost in the Central park. After some small shopping we decided we’re too tired of the wild crowd of the claustrophobic metro line number two and we took a walk through the park. If you think that abandoning the lights and noise of the New York streets in the name of Central Park is boring, it means you have never got yourself lost in these acres of greenery. Central Park means thousand different things. It means streets full of joggers and bikes, it means lakes filled with little boats, big green fields with young men playing baseball, little boys and girls climbing the trees. It means dogs. The dogs have all the craziest hairstyles and wear all the different clothes, some of them look like they were an accessory of their classy owner, some of them look more of a mutt, running all over with a smiley expression. There are fluffy dogs lying on the green grass serving as a pillow to their owners reading a newspaper and a tiny chiuaua dogs in funny pink jackets. Central Park is a massive music hall, with all its singers, guitar players, medieval poem singers (yes, that is right.), saxophonists and jazz masters in one place. The grass is the scene. The ticket costs as much as you’ll decide it’s worth. My favourite part of the Central park is its small, sinuous narrow paths, going up and down left and right, under the bridge made of bricks and around the lake you’ve never noticed before. The grass around is moving, from time to time a squirrel cuts your way begging for a nut. Constantly changing the directions we got so lost that we ended up on the wrong side of the park, almost at the East River. The Sun was going down, and the calm East side of Manhattan looked like a dreamland. The lights in the tall apartments were lightening up one after another sharing the secrets of those who live there with a passer by. The man in a suit opens a tall wooden door for the older man taking his small dog for a walk. The lamps lighten up and you can see the faces of the strangers talking about something passionately. Times Square never sleeps. It gets me a headache. It is a vortex in a washing machine, it mixes older ladies on the holidays with a group of Asians and a young gentleman in nothing but pants saying a naked cowboy. The two policemen stand lost in the crowd looking at it with tired faces, ignoring the mass passing on the red lights touching a mask of a yellow taxi. Times Square smells of million smells, it attacks your nose with such an intensity that you feel lost, aroma of caramel nuts changes into the smell of a tramp within two seconds. Street food from 53rd has everything in it: fried oreos and a grilled chicken. Somebody passes by next to you with his big black Starbucks coffee. We hide in a metro station, three floors underground, surrounded by the heat and a noise of street musicians, who didn’t fit in the crowded street. The noise goes down as we walk west on the 53rd, heading to the Broadway dance centre, a dance school I always dreamt about visiting, hidden in the old brick building. There is some dodgy car, a big puddle and a limousine in front of the red, not too visible sign that I know from the dance tv shows I was watching over and over again as a teenager. I go around all the three floors, watch all the classes in around fifteen rooms. It’s hard to believe all that magic fill in this old building. I’m sitting on a bench amazed, watching the tap class, feeling like somebody took me out of reality and put me there. On the last hours of the trip, we took a boat from Brooklyn to the Green Point. It’s quite a dodgy place in the north from the Brooklyn bridge, which invited us with shoes hanging on the pylon. Thankfully my dad doesn’t know it is sign of somebody being killed in the neighbourhood, because I don’t think we would go any further in that case. We passed the India street and saw a long row with Polish shops, small Polish restaurant and an old catholic church. As much as I wasn’t too excited about that part of a trip, I need to say that it was pretty amazing, and I could see in the face of my father that he thought the same thing. You feel like you went through the whole world around, don’t even remember how many times you felt asleep and woke up during your fourteen hours flight and you end up in a place that looks no different from what you knew as a five years old. You could have been there million times, but you’ve never been there before, and the food you buy is the same food that your grandma prepared for you during every single holidays, and will prepare for you the next time you will see her too. It gives you this strong feeling that it is not as much about the places as it is about the people. I’m pretty sure that if you placed a Polish community on Sri Lanka, the Polish street would look just like this one, maybe there would be a few more palms, or some weird insect watching you from the wall, but everything else would be just the same. It is great to feel home somewhere far away. Even when you are not sure what home means anymore. This few days gave New York a special place in my heart. It is no longer a city from the movies. It has its own intense smells I can feel, its sounds and its own colours, and every single memory, every time of getting lost, or looking for a metro station or asking for a way are part of my memories, and finally I share these memories with somebody important to me. I do travel all the time, I go to new places every week, but this time it was my trip, my choice, the hotel I booked. This time I was getting lost on the airport with no make up on, I was standing in all the queues like any passengers. I was sleeping, watching movies and being served on a plane, at once. I became one of the million thousand people I say hello and goodbye to every single day at work, and being one of these nameless people was one of the greatest things that I had an opportunity to do thankfully to the job I have. And it felt just great, to finally be myself instead of a smiling cabin crew. As we talked with the bus tour guide we made friends with, I was gradually realising how similar our jobs are. After some time I told him I am a cabin crew and my dad with his regular proud face showed him my photo in the uniform, which still gets me a little bit embarrassed. The tour guide looked at me with a super excited face and almost shouted oh man, that is awesome!. He said he’s seeing us girls when they drop us off from the airport, and he always wanted to talk with one of us, but he thinks, it must be tiring to smile for so many hours, probably makes you not want to talk with strangers for a while. I was curious whether he is a bit tired, because he does pretty much the same thing, plus he shouts loud the whole history and story of the New York city in the meantime. And you know, once he finishes the job and gets dropped off at the Times Square around 10 pm, he just walks. He does not talk to anybody and he does not look at people faces. He goes along central park and just look at the lights in a complete silence. In this enormous surprising indifferent silence all the pictures are more vivid than anything, and every quiet sound of a bird sounds with more intensity. The silence sounds like a music and the relaxed part of the upper Manhattan looks like the most desired place on the globe. He didn’t tell us all that, but once he started talking, the voice in my head finished every sentence, almost like they were uttered by the voice in my head. He is a bus tour guide on New York city and I am a cabin crew. My job may seem like the most exciting one to him and his job seems like a great fun to me. We both thought for a little tiny second I wonder how is it like. But than we are done, the job is over, and it is all just the same. In the silence you still hear million voices of people, million questions. You still see faces but you cannot place them in time and place. Things that happened in your job may have happened few hours ago or months ago and you don’t know anymore, you just go, quiet. Your face wears no expression, your heart have no feelings. You just walk. Open the doors, close them. Breath in, breath out. You come back. Realising things like that calms me down. There is a guy in a red jacket in the New York City who feels the same thing I do. There are million other people like that too. You probably feel this way too, and if not, I’m sure one day your time will come too. Me and my dad walked miles of the sleepless streets. You could see us in the wild crowd of tourists on the Times Square, and among the tired faces of people going to work by the metro line number three, craving for a seat. We were nothing special just a part of a picture. Some lost tourists asked us whether we are New Yorkers and know how to get to some place. And that was a great feeling. Because you know, for these couple of days, we in fact were just a pair of the casual New Yorkers. And this is all I know about the New York city.

About how for the one day I was an American / New York City

For the one day I was an American.
That one day I was walking on SoHo and watching the mannequins with my eyes wide open, I was riding on the Wall Street and observing with disbelief how true is what they say, “slow down” said noone ever on the Wall Street.
I was eating a creamy chocolate ice cream of the size of my two fists together in the Central Park and laughing at the tiny dogs struggling to follow their jogging owners along 8th Avenue, five minutes walk from Broadway.
I was smiling to the massive billboards on the Times Square, and they were smiling back, and while listening to the Nat King Cole singing Smile, what’s the use of crying, you’ll find that life is still worthwhile If you just smile I thought,
the life is great.


This journey has started a bit different from all the others.
Once a year I have a reserve month. This means that I get no roster for the following month and have basically no idea where am I going next, how long for, and whether I’ll sleep in my own bed or in the one thousand miles away.
I suppose it does sound exciting, but believe me, it costs a lot of nerves too. My bag is lying on the floor packed: half filled with sweaters and jeans, the other half with bikinis and flip flops.
I pray that once I’ll pick up the phone the voice in the speaker will say “hi Emilia, you are going to San Francisco”. Or something like that. Or at least somewhere with grass. And trees. After all these days spent in melting Dubai, that is more than enough to keep me happy.

So I’m lying in bed, watching Al Pacino in Donnie Brasco and feeling like a proper New York gangster. I feel so much like an American wise man that if I had a cigar I would be sitting there smoking it in my bed. If you know what I mean.
The phone is ringing like stupid and when I pick it up mechanically what I hear is that in four hours I’m going to the New York city. It feels great. It actually feels so great that I put Louis Armstrong’s What a wonderful world and we sing together when I’m putting my clothes on.
It is okay that I’m tired,
I’m leaving today
I want to be the part of it
New York, New York

The first thing I remember is the view of the old cemetery. All the concrete crosses looking the same, a bit too tall and a bit too grey, set into the long rows measured with mathematical precision contrasted with the background of all the tall buildings in any possible shape and size you could imagine, smiling to you with the promise, if you make it here, you can make it anywhere. This view had something powerful in it, the contrast of the dead cemetery and the city more alive than anything I have ever seen in my life kept my eyes wide opened for the whole New York morning traffic journey.
And the New York traffic is the real deal, I’m telling you.



It hasn’t even crossed my mind to get into the bed after twelve hours flight. The New York city is not a place to sleep. It doesn’t matter how tired you are: every street forming another square filled with another high building, carrying another yellow taxi that sound merged into one melody with thousands of others will call you to come and become a part of it.
The thing about New York is, that the moment you get there, you don’t feel like a tourist or outsider anymore. You are a part of it. It doesn’t matter whether you are black, or white, or Asian, or whether you wear funny pants, or your dog is wearing funny pants. It makes you fit.
The moment you step out, you become the part of the picture.


As much as I like going out and exploring with others, I couldn’t wait to be in New York by myself. When you are on your own, everything gets more vivid. You know where you want to go and what you want to do there. Strangers are more friendly. Shop assistants and homeless people talk to you, people on the streets smile when you’re passing by. The possibility of getting lost makes your brain draw a map, and constantly fill it with new nooks and crannies. This is how you make friends with a place.
And I really wanted to make friends with New York.

I think a lot of what makes New York, is what you have already seen and it doesn’t matter whether you’ve been there or not yet. If you have a little bit of imagination and you’re able to see Frank Sinatra singing in the old style jazz club on Broadway filled with a smoke from long, thin cigarettes, or a man playing a solo on his golden saxophone from the little balcony above the street on SoHo, if you can see with your eyes how Jay Gatsby crosses the Brooklyn bridge in his car, how Marilyn Monroe presses a dress to her knees on the Times Square, how Al Pacino walks down with Johnny Deep on the streets of Little Italy wearing dark glasses and heavy coats, it doesn’t matter whether you’re there for a day, or forever, you will feel like the happiest person on the globe, just like I did.


So that would be all that I wanted to say about the New York.
And if you are wondering whether Downtown and Central Park look the way they show them on the movies, and all that fuss about America is there for any reason, and if you’re curious whether it’s worth to fly around the North Pole to see it all, I suppose I’m too much of a dreamer to give you the right answer.

Unless you are thinking about selling your fridge and buying a plane ticket.
Than listen, sell your fridge and get a ticket,
if you know what I mean

Osaka, Japan

Where to start?

I remember it was a summer two thousand and five. It must have been August, because it was raining everyday and the Sun was going down pretty early. My mum was on holidays with my little sister and I was left home alone with dad, pretty cool time. We both have always been horrible cooks, so I didn’t have to come back home at any certain time for a dinner. Instead I was getting some twenty zlotych to get myself a pizza and was let free. Twenty zlotych is not a bad money for a fourteen years old, who reminds more of a bony boy than a girl, and can survive a day on big cup of hot chocolate. These days twenty zlotych felt like you got a freedom.

That summer they opened the big shopping center in the town, twenty minutes walk from home. It was a pretty big thing and a great first step in forming my generation of consumers. I remember how after school we were all going there and window shopping all the things we couldn’t afford. Anyway, that end of summer two thousand and five was particularly boring. So I was taking my twenty zlotych and going to this shopping center. I remember they had a big book store. It was a proper thing: with all the CD albums you could think about, rows of books and red sofas, so people could sit down and read a book. I remember it was a pretty cool thing.

I went around that bookstore and grabbed some books with nice covers. When you’re fourteen you only want to read books with nice covers. I got to the sofas hoping that any of these pretty books wasn’t totally boring so I could sit there still for a short while and look smart. These sofas were always full of people looking smart, especially these days.
There was one book looking particularly interesting. The cover was pink, the kind of Japanese cherry blossom pink, with the name of the author written down to up. It was Murakami’s Norwegian wood.

When I think about it, it is actually quite funny that this was the first Murakami’s book I bumped into. Even thought I think he has many greater novels, this is the one that has made him famous in Japan and all over. Apparently you can find t-shirt and pens with that title in Japan. It is the only one of his books ever filmed. I am not a particular fan of it now, but that day I was miles miles away, and hardly even noticed how it became completely dark outside. By that time I was the only person reading on the red sofas.

That was my first trip to Japan.
It was a first trip to many other things in my life too. It was my choice of later studies and many other choices too. But let me tell you about Japan.

After Norwegian came all the others: South of the Border, West of the Sun, Dance, Dance, Dance, Sputnik Sweetheard – from this one I still have a picture of a woman imprisoned on a top of a still Ferris wheel in my head and I remember it every time I look at one, 1Q84, later Tony Takitani, Wind-up bird Chronicles which is still my favorite book, Kafka on a shore, Sleeping woman and blind willow in a hard cover that I got from my childhood best friends for eighteenth birthday. All of them.
I used to be pretty obsessed about Spirited away which was the beginning of my romance with Hayao Miyazaki movies. When I remember Howl’s Moving Castle it makes me want to get into bed and watch it over and over again. At uni I discovered Kazuo Ishiguro.

Saying all that, I had a pretty vivid picture of Japan in my head when I was boarding on my Osaka flight. It probably doesn’t make me the best person to tell you about Japan. I have pretty much loved it, long long before I even knew I will ever get to see it.

I must have looked pretty stupid using my both hands passing the tiny chopsticks, bowing million times saying “arigato” and doing all that just to be at least a little bit Japanese. Japan is a good lesson on culture.

First thing that made me smile once I got to my room was a toilet. I know it sounds ridiculous, but Japanese toilet is the highest art of technology. I don’t want to tell you too many details, but once a European person sits on the heated toilet desk and see around four or five buttons with other toilet shower options, it feels a bit confusing. A light shower, spraying shower… let’s not go into the details.

Osaka is busy. If you don’t know where are you going, you will be lost after passing two crossings. Hundreds of people run somewhere, they all look like they knew where they are going. Heads up, look straight. They wear white shirts inside the black office trousers, some of them have surgical masks on the faces. Women hide their white skin under umbrellas. Some people look straight into my camera. Later on I find out how empty these looks are.



The trees are singing. Everything is Japan is living. Streets are full of people, grass is full of grasshoppers. Osaka is loud, but not noisy.

After getting lost in the massive underground train station and struggling with buying a ticket we went to Arashiyama, the bamboo forest. Arashiyama is a small place. It looks exactly how I imagined Japan when reading all these books. It is green and quiet. You can hear the birds singing, it is green everywhere around. Ice cream shops sell two types of ice creams: milk, white one, and a green tea. Everything is a bit smaller than in Europe, the ceilings are a little bit lower, you take smaller steps on the stairs. Seventeen meters high bamboos give a misty light to the path. It feels very spiritual. Girls in kimonos walk slowly in their high Japanese shoes looking like they were some forest creatures. Some of them hold the phones in a pink cover and text somebody. Geishas must be texting somebody too.

In the middle of a forest there is a wide river. Maybe fifteen meters wide and maybe forever long. It has the colour of the trees. The forest is so dense you can’t see it properly at the first sight, but it is there, surrounded by the mountains. When you look at the water you can see it’s moving in all the different directions. It is full of fish, turtle. There is a three meter snake sunbathing with half of the body out. Pilot is running around trying to take a photo of it from every possible angle. It makes me laugh. The little girl in kimono covers the face with both hands when I try to discretely point my camera at her. I feel like I discovered the sense of sight for the first time in my life, that is how beautiful this place is.


After the walk we catch a train to Kyoto. There is a boy and girl sitting on the opposite side, I can see them taking photos of us and laughing. Me, pilots and the other girls must look for them like some crazy creatures from a different world.

Kyoto is much much older and quieter than Osaka. Have you seen Rob Marshall’s “Memoirs of a Geisha“?

Imagining little geishas running between old Japanese houses for their music lessons comes pretty easy. Me and another girl went to the tiny hidden local sushi place for a dinner. Even though we probably have made the older lady who was serving us a little bit uncomfortable, you could see we were a bit of an entertainment. There were only us and an older local lady eating something from her tiny bowl with chopsticks. I ordered sushi and the other girl tried to communicate with a lady and order a same thing, but at the end it didn’t work quite well. The older lady tried to talk to us, and the fact we could not understand each other at all gave her a great laugh. The place was tiny and very tidy. There was a quiet traditional Japanese music in the back, and it all smelled like a seaweed and a green tea. I loved it so much that I almost left a tip, which is a rude thing in Japan. Yes, that’s right – no tips.


My impression of Japan is just the same as it was nine years ago when I read the first serious book in my life sitting in the bookstore.
It sounds like Claude Debussy’s Clair de lune and smells of million scents. It is full of helpful hands and kind-hearted, focused faces.
Everything goes smooth like a wide river.
If you lost your cat than you probably should go on a walk to find it and if it takes five years, it doesn’t matter. If you decided to invent planes, you go to school and invent planes.
Life is so easy – This is how I feel in Japan.
The cherry tree blossoms, people run to work. If it starts at eight, be there at seven. Some people hold hands. Their skin is very fair. Girls are very skinny, they hide their doll-like faces under colorful umbrellas. There is a man with an electric guitar playing on a street.
I buy two bottles of sake in a local market and go back to the hotel.
It’s time to go back.



The lady I met in a sushi place

This is the lady I met in a sushi place.
It’s my favorite photo from Japan. It explains the whole culture and people of the country.
I left it untouched.

We met this lady in a tiny local sushi place in Kyoto. The stuff didn’t speak English and she tried to help us and have some conversation, all I understood she’s from Kyoto and she grew there up and even thought I couldn’t understand what was she trying to say to me, the way she tried to help and the way it made her laugh will mean this place forever.


The lady I met in a sushi place Kyoto, Japan, 29.07.2014.