“Food, sleep, language, city, music, money, clothes, things, nature, travel and I”

Anna Lesiczka
2nd February 2023

“Food, sleep, language, city, music, money, clothes, things, nature, travel and I”

For the first few weeks after moving somewhere, I don’t cook. During this time, either  I am hungry or quickly broke by spending more money to eat out. When I finally started cooking in the previous house, the landlord asked me “who taught you how to cook?”. I thought the time when I used to hear this kind of questions has already passed.

I used to hear them a lot in primary school. During classes or when we were having breaks, I used to draw to kill time. When classmates noticed, they would ask “Who taught you to draw so well?”. I was living in a muted mode as a child and it was the only reason they were talking to me. So disappointing, what was I supposed to say?

I remember when I learned to cook. Nobody taught me. I started living by myself and I wanted to eat normal food. When I lived with my parents I barely cooked anything. They were doing everything, even breakfast for me. Moreover, whenever I wanted to cook, my mom would get angry (and she still does). She threatened that if I want to cook, she is leaving the house and I have to spend my own money on groceries and go to the shop by myself, (which is not so easy without a car in the place where we live). So in the end it was not worth it. 

I was already living abroad for more than a year and more than six years without my parents. I wanted to make Polish dumplings. Still being so far away, my mom got angry when I mentioned my plan and strongly recommended me not to do it. Her reaction is always strange. The simplest explanation is that she is not a very good cook herself. She cooks, but only basic everyday dishes. She can’t deal with difficult ingredients and she has never prepared most of the traditional Polish food herself. It’s my dad who is the best cook in the family. Then I remember that my younger brother was always allowed to cook and everybody cheered him up. He was around 13 years old when he prepared a pike for Christmas Eve and it was the best fish I have ever eaten.

Over three months in Stockholm and I hugged one person once. Although I wasn’t completely deprived of touch. I had a dog to hug - a big labrador I lived with. I used to hug her at night when everyone else  was already sleeping. Sometimes she was tired of me. She stayed warm and silent.

I was eighteen when I spent the  summer in London.  My grandfather’s younger sister lives there, so I met her twice. It was the first time we saw each other. I found out that she can’t speak proper Polish which actually makes sense because she is an elderly lady and she has lived in London for most of her life. Her children and grandchildren speak only English. She doesn’t come to Poland anymore. But still, it was a mind-blowing experience. She was talking to me in English because she couldn’t find words in the first language she was taught. Later on, I observed that it’s quite common to neglect keeping fluency in your mother tongue. Therefore I was always a guard of mine.

In Stockholm, I was speaking Polish only at home. I didn’t like that home and almost all I was saying was forced. Nothing was truly heard. I was tired. My English is limited - I use only a few sentence structures and the dictionary in my head should be already much broader. Yet it isn’t and I had never truly believed that at some point it will become my comfort zone. And now leaving a Polish-speaking household I feel relieved.

Maybe lately I long for English more because it became my sign of independence. A language nobody ever taught me in a way I was taught Polish many years ago. All the importance of it, I had to discover myself.

At the beginning of autumn, I was walking a dog with my 17-year-old roommate. She came to Sweden when she was four. She speaks Swedish at school and Polish at home. When we talk and she forgets a word, she uses English. In the way she speaks, I can sense that she thinks in this language as well. Her way of communicating is very similar to my cousin’s who translates Polish from English. When I asked about it, she said that she would gladly speak only English. It’s the language her parents don’t understand.

She barely leaves her room. When she does, usually with headphones on, just to take an apple juice from the fridge. I entered her room for the first time a few days before moving out. I thought she only plays computer games but she tells me that often she sits on a chair and listens to music for two hours or more. Sometimes she dreams about how rich she would get. She studies to be a dog hairdresser so I am wondering what is her plan to have so much money for. She wants to open an internet store like Amazon. She watches YouTube videos about people who earned millions doing this. I didn’t know what she wants to buy for all of the millions she would have. Nothing - she said, she only wants to die rich. This is what she dreams about - to die rich. I didn't understand so she explained that she has never had anything she wanted. She doesn’t need anything anymore but she wants to be sure - she can get whatever she wants.

She tells me that this is not possible to communicate with parents. They would never understand. She says they don’t have this ability, because they know a different world. It touches on something I am worried about. What if I have a child and I am not able to understand them? My cousin is waiting for his child to be born somewhere this week and I am already worried for him. It is going to be a girl and she will be very new. It would be impossible to see things from her perspective. What if he doesn’t know it?

We watch “How to train your Dragon” late at night. Her drunk mother enters the room. She looks at us and laughs. While leaving she shouts  “They are watching a fucking dragon”. At the end, I nearly cried. I remember what she told me about going to the cinema with her friend to watch the third part. At the end of the movie she cried and since the next day that friend never talked to her again. Therefore I told her about my tears.