We had a friend over for wine and cheese last night . I’ve known him for a few years and Ada has known him since her school days . He’s a Polish guy who lives in Finland .
Part of our discussion was whether or not he is Polish or Finnish . The Poles consider him not fully Polish , he being an ex-pat ; and the Finns usually don’t consider him fully Finnish , it seems . When he travels and is asked where he’s from , he said he tells people he’s from Finland . He’s lived there for decades . He doesn’t say ,” I’m Finnish “. Does it really matter , anyway ? I’m not sure that we pinned an answer to that one down last night .
He described himself as an orchid . His deep in-soil roots are Polish and his “air” roots are Finnish , he said . He’s happy with that . He’s just him . ” I’m just me ,” he said .
We talked passports and citizenship and official mumbo jumbo for a bit . He doesn’t have Polish citizenship because when he left Poland , way back when , he had to renounce his Polish citizenship to get Finnish citizenship . Ada is a Polish citizen and an American citizen . I am an American citizen and an Irish citizen . I travel in Europe with an Irish passport , wishing that sometime somewhere a border agent will stamp it ; but the EU and Schengen Zone have open borders . ( Must all be Democrats ! )
In Vilnius , Lithuania , there is a part of town that artists have declared a republic, the Uzupis Republic . They’ve written their own constitution and it is posted in several languages on a wall for all to see . The guide book says that of the 7000 residents in this republic 2000 are artists . A young woman in a gallery told me that the property values have gone up so high in the area recently , though , that artists are increasingly forced to live outside of the area. The artists had originally moved into the area because it was a run-down section of the city where cheap housing and studio space was plentiful .
Ha ! That process seems to be a familiar one . I’m thinking of Venice California , right now , and Bisbee Arizona . You might be easily able to offer your own examples .
Anyway , my purpose for mentioning the Republic of Uzupis is to say that my passport was stamped with an official Republic of Uzupis stamp . That might confuse some border official somewhere down the line .
A couple of my close friends in America are an English guy who’s been in the country for over 20 years and a Danish guy who’s been in the U.S. longer . I suppose they could use the orchid image to describe their situations . The Polish-Finnish guy speaks better American English than either of these other two guys , by the way ( No offense to the Englishman , but sometimes who knows what those words are that you are uttering ! And the Dane ? I might describe his use of English as colorful butchery of an otherwise respectable lingo . ) Well , to be fair , he teaches English in Finland and so he studies the correct use of the idiom so that he can pass that knowledge along to his young students who then will be able to , no doubt , out-speak the native speakers .
It’s a funny world , eh ! Hey , maybe these three friends of mine could organize a club , They could call it The Orchid Club . There’d be lots of people who could join . Better yet , an Orchid Republic ! Then they could stamp my passport .