We hold a deep mystery in our lives: the Polish table.
In 1970, we took our second trip to Europe. As in the year before, it was three months and two people on a Lambretta 150cc motor scooter, about 50 km/hr. with our camping gear on the back. From London thru Netherlands, France, West & East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and our first and only time into Poland.
In those pre-Curtain-dropping days, you had to exchange $15 per person per day for Eastern Bloc visas, and given our camping and meal prep over an alcohol burner, there was almost nothing on which to spend this vast wad of zloty. I remember buying three neckties, a tiny book . . . and, apparently, this table.
It’s a cheap little tin thing, 2 ft. by 2.5, spindly folding legs, cream-colored though stained with years of picnics, and it’s given us good service. In subsequent decades, right up to this contemplation of fog on the ocean cliffs, we’ve used our Polish table.
The mystery is this: where did we get it? In Poland, of course. Except that we couldn’t have.
I piloted the little scooter, Elizabeth perched at my back with saddlebags, tent and bedroll strapped behind. There was no room for a table, none. Impossible. It must have been acquired in later years, when we rented a car with the kids. But we’d never gone back to Poland. So why did we call it the Polish table?
Might it have had a Made in Poland stamp on its underbelly? Might we have once made a tacky joke about Polish workmanship? Might it have sailed in from an alternate reality? Might we have sailed in from an alternate reality? We seem to have exhausted all possibilities.
The best we can do, it seems, is to accept the mystery as mystery. An unexamined life is not worth living, they say, but neither, perhaps, is one that can be fully explained.