Changes in Latitude

Ellen – October 6, 2007

Not intending to sound like our dad, who could happily spend hours in front of the TV watching The Weather Channel – and this was years before his Alzheimer’s diagnosis – I woke up this morning to pelting rain, feet like blocks of ice, and wondered, not for the first time, to what extent the dramatic change in climate is going to affect me.  Gdynia is the only genuinely beautiful place I have ever lived.  The price for all this verdant beauty is obvious. 

I left Tel Aviv in the middle of a vile, muggy night at the end of what everyone agreed was the most relentlessly evil summer yet.  It was almost incomprehensible that at the end of a 4-hour flight, I would need my coat.  Just adding a blouse with elbow-length sleeves to my long Indian dress and nylon stockings to sandals was a sweaty compromise for the pre-flight hours, and dragging my leather coat with me was irritating.  I stuffed it into the overhead compartment with relief as soon as I boarded the flight…but donned it with equal relief upon arrival.  The 4th of September in Gdynia was already colder than the coldest winter day in Beer-Sheva.   

So far, aside from the occasional initial shiver upon waking, I’m enjoying it.  It’s a crisp, lovely autumn and the scenery, even outside my window, is breathtaking, the leaves of the huge trees of the park across the street streaked with orange, yellow and red.  My friends, the natives, smile indulgently when I gasp over a perfect red-gold leaf on the sidewalk or savor the light, warm rain showers.  They know what awaits us all in a few weeks:  entry into a dark tunnel of winter such as I’ve never experienced.  They’re helping me prepare, both physically and emotionally.  According to everyone,  the worst month is just ahead:  November, dark, dreary and depressing, the trees stripped and the rain cold and incessant.  The following months, while much colder, are said to have their rewards:  an energizing high pressure, snow and more sunlight.   

I’m gearing myself up not to be a wuss – although I know I will be.  I’ll try to keep my whimpering to myself, though, as much as possible. 

Enough about the weather.   

It’s been a decent week, although like you, Ruth, I’m battling the issues of lack of structure and isolation.  I have a handful of private students, but so far have not yet started working for the language school – they’re in the process of forming different groups of students.  I see more of my friends than I ever did in Beer-Sheva, but there are those days when I too wind up talking to a cat and getting no feedback unless he’s hungry.  Actually, this little fellow (whose name in Polish sounds like “Kotex”) is a nice temporary companion.  But purring and yowling doesn’t compensate for human conversation.   

In the years since I stopped working full-time, I’ve discovered I need people more than I’d ever expected.  I think I’ve adjusted relatively well to living alone again.  It’s been a long time since entering a dark, silent apartment – or just contemplating doing so – has induced self-pitying tears.  But I crave and require some day-to-day contact with others.  Co-workers and students will fill this need.  For now, on the days when I’m alone, I take advantage of living in the center of town and walk the crowded streets, the vast park, the nearby port.  There’s always an opportunity to exercise my 10-word Polish vocabulary, or be challenged to extend it.  People are always asking me for directions! 

Ha!  Do I really look like I know where I’m going? 

Copyright 2007 by Ellen Dlott

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