I just got back to the US this afternoon and I’m far too tired for a lengthy blog. But I wanted to write about Warsaw, rebuilding and my own life.
Krakow is commonly known as the city in Poland to visit because its old town was so well-preserved when much of Poland was razed to the ground. Warsaw, in contrast, was one of the most damaged cities in WWII, with 85-90% of the city destroyed. While Warsaw was rebuilt, Krakow still gets more love for being “authentic,” even though the rebuilt Old Town received UNESCO heritage status.
I was in Warsaw for the first time in 2011, a brief stopover between Poznan and Munich. I wandered to the Old Town at night. It was a few days before Christmas and full of vendors selling hot wine – and it was gorgeous. I read a historical marker about the rebuilding and was suddenly hit with a sense of how powerful it was that this city was so utterly destroyed and then rebuilt. (Especially coming from the US where beautiful, fully intact old building are knocked down for parking lots and condos.) Even though the beautiful building I was looking upon weren’t original, they represented hard work, determination, a love for ones city and the unconquerable spirit that I have observed in the Polish people. I decided right then that Warsaw was much cooler than Krakow.
Fast-forward six years. I have spent the past four getting knocked down by cancer and rebuilding. I am back in Warsaw, no longer the carefree younger traveler I was before, and I realize that this city is a metaphor for my own life. I go to the Old Town and gaze upon the reconstructed building. I pull strength from them and again vow that no matter how much this terrible disease tries to destroy my life, I will keep getting back up and rebuilding.