Judaism, Poland

all the way back

My friend T, who I spent the whole bus ride to Michalowice with yesterday, has been to Poland with her father before, specifically to visit the camps. I told her I had no intention of doing that.

“Well,” she said, “I did it so you don’t have to.”

But as we doubled back to Legnica, she told me that we passed a sign pointing to one, anyway.

“You can’t avoid them,” she said. “They’re everywhere.”

T and I have been talking lots about what it feels like to be an American Jew on this trip. I’m glad she’s here, because I really needed someone to share all this with. In the course of the conversation, I learned that she’s also a Los Angeles Valley Girl, went to high school just a few years apart from me, and in many other ways has a parallel background to mine. We’ve worked together for a year without knowing this.

I guess it takes coming all the way back to Poland to figure out who your countrymen really are.

California, can you hear me now? I know that over half of your residents don’t believe in gay marriage, and I know that probably the same over-half would like to deport undocumented immigrants and their children. I know. But compared to the world I see here, which is, I know, a world of the past, but still a world I and T cannot avoid seeing – you look, Home State, like the paradise you always make yourself out to be.