Finding Myself at a Polish Club

Greetings from San Francisco! Where today I experienced fresh eggs from a chicken coop in Los Gatos, Dim Sum in Millbrae and Mexican food at El Metate in San Francisco. My action packed weekend visiting friends is coming to a close. Tonight my friends took me to the KALW 91.7FM 70th Anniversary special, a local public radio station hosting a night of storytelling and a live broadcast of Crosscurrents. We were there for three hours.

Essay topics revolved around a “Beginnings and Endings” theme and included a man being bitten by a Harbor Seal while he swam from Golden Gate Bridge to the Bay Bridge and a woman who recorded the sounds of Antarctica (like cracking ice) and created musical instruments out of stone and bones to re-create sounds. There was also a segment about the amazing life of a Queen Termite, who lays eggs every 3 seconds for 15 years and at the end of her life cycle gets licked to death by her spawn. Yep. All this I learned from the very gifted writers I saw read tonight. Where was all this held? Why at the Polish Club.

I was kind of excited to compare a Polish Club in San Francisco to the Polish clubs I know from home. There were similarities: walnut paneling, no fewer than 5 Polish eagle emblems, Pope John Paul II photos, etchings of past Polish Kings, and even an oil portrait of George Washington.

There were a few construction paper collages with pictures of Warsaw and one of the great battle of Monte Cassino, Italy where I noted my own grandfather was wounded in WWII. I tired to get up close to read about the person whose picture was photocopied on the collage, but it was a dimly lit while the writers read on stage. I thought, someone else probably had a grandfather there too. Even though the edges of construction paper were curling, the person who made it cared. I couldn’t help but walk over to it. It reminded me to ask my mom some more questions about her father.

I felt at home and it wasn’t just the paneling. I thought it was so appropriate that I should find myself there. In a Polish club. Listening to writers read stories about beginnings and endings with the ever-watchful Polish Eagle eyes above our heads and a George Washington smirking in the distance.