The Curse Of The Polish Staircase

“You will always have people in your life that you can count on, no matter what happens. And I’m one of them.”

The silly me

As a 20-year-old, I lived the best, experienced the worst in my year abroad. All the blessings and heartbreaks taught me to be who I am today.

Reckless and careless, I missed the bus from Austria to Poland to meet my friend and almost got into a car with a dodgy stranger until my other friend intervened. Stressed by the situation, my friend decided to come meet me half way in Czech Republic to pick me up.

Over the next two days, we took it easy and chilled around her hometown Lodz. On the second day, we decided to take a walk close to her home after breakfast.

Sun was shining bright. We got ready at 9:30am and went out. Her apartment was in an old building without an elevator. It was dark inside. When we stepped out the sun was so bright, my eyes couldn’t adjust. Squinted my eyes and took a step, I lost my balance and fell onto the concrete floor as I wasn’t aware there’s still one more step at the front gate.

It was not the first time…

Staircases in Poland were a curse for me. Exactly two months ago, I fell down the staircase in Poznan, twisting my ankle and scraping my knee, leading to a minor infection and a bad scar. Now, I twisted the same ankle and scraped my knee in the same spot that was scaring. I don’t remember ever falling down a staircase like this before.

My right ankle couldn’t take the hit twice

Losing my sense of direction and was seeing white, I tried getting up but failed. Panicked, she tried to hold me up but I just couldn’t stand. Can’t remember if I crawled back up to her apartment or if she carried me and dragged me, or all combined. I managed to get back up to her apartment and just sat on the sofa.

Twisting my ankle again before it even healed was no joke. Seeing white the whole way, I was dehydrated and disoriented. Tried rubbing medicine on my ankle and cleaning my wounds, both of us had know idea what to do. 20 minutes later, my senses started to come back.

The one who was there to comfort me

Seeing how down I was, she suggested to go for the walk anyways. I could barely move but sitting wasn’t going to make me any better. Stumbling along the way, we made it to the Lodz airport, an open field in the suburb without any planes coming in. The sun was bright as before, the breath of fresh air eased my mind.

Struggling to squeeze a smile, she wasn’t going to force me either. Took the tram to the city centre, we sat down in a cafe along the main street and talked about other things in life. That night was hard when she decided to cancel our trip to Gdansk for my own safety.

Immense guilt consumed me, first I missed the bus to Poland that she had to take an 8-hour bus to another country to pick me up, thus cancelling our mountain trip. Then I fell down the stairs and could barely stand up, now even our backup trip was cancelled.

Carefully patched me up, she told me it was all okay and we would still have fun staying here. Her understanding really hit home. Both times our trip got cancelled because of me, not only was she completely cool with it, she told me not to think too much about it because accidents happen.

None of us had any idea how to do this, but we tried…

The next day she took me to the salon for a makeover to cheer me up. Then we went for shopping. I found this turquoise sweatshirt bought it. The day was better than yesterday.

The trip must go on

After resting for two more days, she took me to Warsaw for the final two nights since my flight was from there. Stayed at her friend’s empty apartment, we had the best time in Warsaw, despite my injury.

My friend was this bubbly girl, always wanted me to make the best memories by taking pictures of me every corner we went. We had the crazy nights where we puked five times and we had the fun nights of just exploring the city.

Every goodbye is emotional, especially to the great friends far away that you probably know you won’t be seeing in the next few years. I flew off, leaving her and her beautiful homeland behind. A few days later she messaged me, telling me I left the turquoise sweatshirt at her place in Lodz. Feeling dumb again, I told her maybe she could just keep it.

She asked for my address in Hong Kong. I told her it’d be hard for me to transfer the money internationally and she just said,

“It’s a gift from Poland.”

Knowing how I am surrounded by people who care about me

Two months later I was back in Hong Kong, the package had long been waiting for me in my room. Underneath the sweatshirt, there was a piece of paper, a letter from my friend.

In the letter, she talked about how glad she was that I came visit and that I should never feel bad for the cancelled trips because we were there to meet, travelling was the supplement only. She also wished that one day I would grow up to be a less careless person and be stronger when dealing with adversity.

At the end of the letter, she wrote,

“Maybe it’s never a curse to fall down the stairs twice in Poland. Now you know you are surrounded by people that love and care about you. You have friends around the world that are always ready to take care of you. It’s not because we are nice to all, but because you are nice to us as well. I hope you will be blessed to be surrounded by people you can count on, no matter what happens. And I’m one of them.”

Can’t remember if I sobbed a bit reading that letter, probably. It’s true that I have mostly been blessed in life with people. I have friends in most corners of the world that I know will welcome me when I show up, take care of me if I feel sad, keep me safe if I need a roof over my head. I always just thought it’s because I spent all my luck on meeting people, but maybe I earned it too.

The letter from her gave me much comfort, knowing that people are nice to me because they feel the same from me. From them, I am always learning how to be a better me as well.

The staircase in Poland wasn’t a curse after all I guess. It was a blessing.

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