September 2, 2016

The town’s square was so wide, I almost felt like grabbing someone out of fear that I might fall off the earth.

Like most town squares in Europe, Warsaw was like many others. A statue dedicated to some man that most locals didn’t know with fountains spewing out water from figures that only experts knew what they represented.

There were two horizons. The one to the east was a tower. To the west was a long building that went from north to south, the oldest of anything there because it was the most simple.

The tower (was it a cathedral or maybe it was a clock tower?) was orange painted in orange. The brownish brick was a tone somewhere between bark and citrus. It was bathed in warm rays of the unseen setting sun. It was a firework of changing colors only this explosion lasted hours, not milliseconds.

There was a man climbing the tower. Was it an old tradition or a new one that television stunts provided? I wasn’t sure but my eyes followed eyes as I did what every human does when a group is looking in a single direction, I followed their stare.

But men on ropes on walls was not was I was there for. For the locals it was a scene since it was so unusual. For me, the locals were the scene since I was a stranger in an even stranger land.

I talk to two girls about what was happening. They confirm its a television stunt. The modernness disappoints me. I notice that one of the girls has her hair shaved close to the skin on the side of her head. I find it odd but then in the coming days I notice it more and more. I arrived in the middle of a strange fad. One could never predict the weather.

I crossed the plaza walking away from the tower, the sun no longer providing beauty giving way to the carnival of ridiculous acts. The beauty of God was exchanged for the absurdity of man. I had to leave.

I passed the statue of the unknown hero. Unknown to me and most everyone there but at least that man of stone was more well known than me so he had me beat.

I finally entered the building towards the setting sun. It was a single story building, white on the outside but older than most nations on earth. It was an ancient indoor market that had been around for centuries. The man of stone outside probably walked the same steps that I was on now.

As I made my way into the covered marketplace I could see the way out to the other side. As it was long north to south, it was relatively short, east to west. But when I turned to my left and right, the building’s south and north, I couldn’t even see where the marketplace ended.

I had to choices, right or left, and went left. There were lights that hung low, almost like the inside of a mosque. The ceiling was exaggerated in height as the electric lamps came buzzing down low.

I was ready for the history, ready to see what generations before me had seen. Trading, bartering, selling. All under this one roof. Only there was no cattle, no real wares. No one brought exotic spices from an unknown corner of the world. It was filled with souvenirs and sad ones at that. There were attempts at selling what was sold there but one could tell that the carpets were machine made. An “I Love Polish Girls” t-shirt brought me a smile but also let me know that my day’s trip was coming to an end. Just like the man hanging on a rope hundreds of feet up in the air outside, there was nothing to see inside either.

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