Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.
A friend asked me, “What did you do in Krakow?” I smiled to myself because my chief activity was wandering. I walked for hours in random directions. I sat in parks to people watch. I saw a boy kicking leaves like an endless supply of soccer balls, lost in his own game, complete with sound effects. I spotted a young woman who also watched the boy and delighted at his happy solitude. She walked away wearing a broad, reflective smile with her hands deep in the pockets of her pale blue coat. Near my apartment, and through each neighborhood, I watched little oldsters go out on their balconies and lean. They leaned over the city, over their courtyard, over their pots of flowers or air-drying laundry.
My second hobby was church hopping. There are ceaseless Catholic churches in Krakow, so it was a delight to go from one to the next, exiting, looking left or right, and heading for the next steeple. In one small chapel, a nun came to me and handed me five plastic medals, then she gestured to the icon of Mary and Jesus and began to whisper a story. Random patches of the Croatian language were coming to me. I had been passing off the Croatian “goodbye” all week, though the Polish goodbye has a different pronunciation. I tried to say I didn’t understand, hoping it was a cognate to Polish: “Ne razumijem.” She nodded happily and tried to tell me her tale again, but with a bit more volume. I kept shrugging and putting my hand over my chest in apology as she kept on chatting and smiling. Finally, I started to laugh almost silently and she joined in.
It was a perfect, quiet, peaceful week full of surprising October sunshine. Next time, I’ll sigh off my balcony, learn a few more phrases, try to find the nun, and aim to translate my gratitude.