Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sort of the same old song

This is the building in which I lived last Winter in the Old Town of Warsaw, Poland. Kaya requested a better look at it after she posted a pair of photographs on her own blog showing the square in which my apartment is located. She once spent a week in Warsaw herself. It is the sort of tan building with the figurines on the facade more-or-less in the center of the photo. It is the two windows on the third floor on the right, front corner of the building, and the adjacent three windows on the third floor of the right side of the building. I hope that descriptions makes clear the location of "The Apartment." This building was totally destroyed during World War II, and rebuilt from the rubble after the war using photos to duplicate it in precise and exact detail. I miss Warsaw -- very much -- and will return to this city for a while before too long. Maybe, in March or April next year, to resume the calendar at the point where I returned to America this year.

A season in the city
Part 1 of 2

Looking through some photographs taken last winter in Warsaw very naturally brought back a few memories. Among my favorite activities was "people-watching" from the third-floor windows of The Apartment overlooking Castle Square to the front and the narrow, alley-like Piwna Street to the side. It made me comfortable and uncomfortable in the same breath.

I have experienced very brief stays in the center of major, metropolitan areas in the past -- a few days here and there -- but never actually lived in one before. I came close some time ago, almost moving to downtown Minneapolis simply for the experience of doing what I did in Warsaw: to live in the midst of crowded civilization.

I always have needed and usually have lived with trees and water, or, sometimes farm fields, in sight from my windows. Even when living in metropolitan regions, this has been the case. I once lived in Burnsville, a suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul. From the yard, I could look one direction and see the skyscrapers of downtown Minneapolis about twenty miles distant. I could turn and see nothing but cornfields and groves of trees in the other direction.

When I moved to Montana, I lived in a town. It was the eastern side of the state, semi-arid, with miles and miles of flatlands. I quickly grew lonesome for the presence of trees and water in my life. Once or twice a week, I drove out to a place along the Missouri River where I could sit beneath a tree and watch the river on its journey toward the next river and on to the sea.

When I built my Sanctuary/Refuge, it was on a hilltop, in the midst of thousands of trees going on for miles, with the Missouri River in sight.

The Apartment in Warsaw also was my only civilian experience of ever being without an automobile or a truck for more than a day or two. I did not like it, living this way, but not because I felt compelled to drive somewhere else. I actually do not like to drive, and much prefer to be a passenger. But, and many people cannot understand this, having a vehicle in a garage is much like having a pistol in a desk drawer: It is symbolic and emblematic of security, a measure and an expression of freedom, of mobility and of the ability to go where I want when I want and to live as a free man.

Yes, of course, it is possible to live that way in a city -- I mean to own a vehicle and a pistol there -- but psychologically it is not the same. Sometime, if you do not understand that, I might try to explain it, but not now.

So, I still hope to spend a Winter or a Summer or some period of time actually living at the center -- within the core -- of a few more major, metropolitan cities rather than merely visiting them. But, I do not think I ever will take up permanent residence in one -- at least until I am too old to run in the woodlands and to swim across the rivers.

(To be continued)

The music becomes the film

The word "nomad" recently entered into the discussion of life as I experience it. The word, which I sometimes use as a password on the Internet, incidentally, brought to mind deserts and, from there, my thoughts leapt to the musical score from "The Wind and the Lion." So, what else could I do other than include that music as part of this post?

Once the music was in, I turned to the movie itself, which easily falls into my list of all-time favorites -- probably into the top dozen or so. For anyone who has never seen this motion picture, I would suggest buying it, renting it or even stealing it. Experiencing this film is worth the risk.

The movie is loosely based on actual events that occurred in 1904, and while the story line is stretched to fictional ends, primarily to create a romance element, many historical facts are woven into the tale.

For the sake of "Semper Fidelis," I included with this post the scene showing U.S. Marines storming the palace of the Pasha of Tangier. Those of you who would prefer to see Sean Connery and Candice Bergen playing chess will have to secure the film for yourselves.


Kaya said...

Well, what I can say about this post, Fram? First of all, I was waiting for this post and a photograph. Right now I even more curious about your life and your experiences. You have an interesting and complicated life in my opinion.

What I like the most are your observations about life and yourself and surroundings and people.

Looking at the building where you stayed in Warsaw I thought how I miss buildings like this one. Old European buildings.

"People watching from the windows", that was also my favorite activity in the Warsaw, especially in the late evening. I always watched people walking on streets and tried to imagine their lives and their concerns.

And Montana?... I heard about this state good stories and not so good. Interesting state. Some day I will see it. People whom I met from Montana are very different and in some way are interesting and very open.

I read with an interest about your relationship with a car. I am opposite, I like to walk and go somewhere by bus or by train or tram.... Not much freedom, of course.

The Wind and the Lion??? I am not sure what to write about it. I have to listen to this fragment again and I will try to find, rent or as a last resort to steal this movie. I can say only that this music is very powerful.

And some day I am sure you will come with a great post about Nomads' life.

Anyway, that it's complicated and excellent post, Fram.

Fram Actual said...

Interesting, possibly; complicated, well, most lives are complicated, are they not? My goal (after a fashion) in recent years has been to simplify my life, but it seems just the opposite has been happening.

As you might imagine, most days the number of people who passed by the windows of The Apartment overlooking Castle Square numbered in the thousands. That is why looking out of them made me "comfortable and uncomfortable in the same breath." There was complete anonymity among them, but also the feeling of being trapped in a march of lemmings to the sea.

When I lived in Montana, I was told many of the people who moved there came because they needed more personal space. A generation or two later, the children and grandchildren of those people were leaving Montana for Alaska. It makes sense. Soon, there will be nowhere left to go for those who are not lemmings.

For sure, Kaya, watch the movie. It is a perfect film in my eyes: Adventure, a lot of realistic action, a bit of romance, a fairly accurate historical portrayal of Teddy Roosevelt, who I admire, and a variety of other elements from the era of the very early Twentieth Century, which was the last of the "good days" in America from my point of view.

Thank you, for your visit.

Something special ....