I have a Pesel Number! This means that I am officially registered in Lublin. It feels monumental. More than seventy years after my mother and her family were forced to leave this city and this country because of death threats against my grandfather and a generally inhospitable atmosphere for Jews, I am back. Not all descendants of Polish Jews would want to set foot here and I understand that. Even I have had thoughts about it being weird to be here when my mother’s family were forced out and when so many were murdered. But I also feel like I belong. It feels like home. The language belongs in my mouth, some people seem like old friends, some, like annoying acquaintances, but not strangers. I’ve got a bank account too.
Today a friend’s husband and daughter took me to another supermarket; it was so great of them but I have got to figure out how to order online—I cannot keep asking people to take me. It was a godsend though because all stores are closed tomorrow (Independence Day—100 years!) and Monday. I stocked my larder (larder, along with pantry—one of those words that was just not in my first generation vocabulary growing up, along with: divan, settee, doily, sconce…) and got lots of essentials like a colander, an apron and a broom and dust pan. Some other weird observations about stuff in (or not in) Polish stores: aluminum foil come in a roll but not in a box! They don’t seem to have index cards (if someone reads this and I am wrong please let me know). Spices come in packets, not jars.
I observed my first Brama Grodzka tour today. Of course I have been on lots of tours with Bridge To Poland groups but this was the first time I watched and took notes with the idea that I will be a tour guide. It was a group of Israelis. So when I got home I practiced giving a tour in Hebrew. It was fun. It will be fun if I can get them to listen to me—the groups are big and they tend to be rowdy. I am psyched to learn to give tours though. I loved doing it at Yad Vashem and the JFK Library.