The Valencian

Pleased To Meet You: Hope You Guess My Name

As Sasha Elizabeth Parker ponders how to plot her next move – from Poland to Valencia, obviously – she realises she forgot to say much about herself. So she has decided to introduce herself in her own inimitable manner…

So, I know we’ve been formally introduced thanks to my editor-in-chief – he’s very good at that (he makes everyone sound super shiny and new and you think, goddamn, I need to get to know that person he’s just dangled in front of me on my screen – he even made me want to get to know me a little more, too). So, what did I do? Well, like any good journalist, I sat down with myself over a cup of tea (it’s a school night after all, plus I don’t want to make too many typos – I’m trying to make a good early impression) and I asked myself those juicy questions only the best journalists dare to ask. I ought to add, now is in fact the best time to get to know me. Why? Well, I’ve just started to get to know me, myself– the true-me person that is lurking in there. 

And she’s so cool. Actually, I feel the same way about her as Alabama felt about Clarence 28 years ago when True Romance first graced the big screen, in 1993. In fact, I often reenact that famous scene when amid the Tarantino chaos Alabama couldn’t help but repeat those three words (her feelings towards Clarence) endlessly to herself: you’re so cool, you’re so cool, you’re so cool (I have Hans Zimmer echoing in my ears right now). Of course, I do it without the Tarantino chaos – but not always without the internal chaos that naturally creeps in from time to time.

Too cool for school: Christian Slater as Clarence and Patricia Arquette as Alabama in the Quentin Tarantino, Tony Scott-directed True Romance

I am on the cusp of turning 30. Yes, the big three zero. And how do you feel about that? I’m thrilled. I might actually be as excited as I was when I crossed the threshold from 12 to 13 and became a fully fledged teenager (of course, at the time I thought I was officially becoming ‘adult’ and that I knew all there was to know about life and everything else, for that matter). Oh how oblivious I was. But my feelings about turning 30 come as quite a surprise to me. Why’s that? Because up until about three months ago I was in a completely different mindset. I was a completely different person. I was on a completely different mission. The wrong one (of course, I thought it was the right one at the time). I was hell-bent on ‘settling down’ and doing all those things that society tells us to do by the grand old age of 30. So, what happened? It’s simple really. I woke up. What do you mean? Well, for those of you who have given my piece on What My Tarot Teller Told Me the quick once-over, you’ll know that a wonderful woman named Iwona helped me to come to terms with my past in order to meet my future. 

Where are you right now? In life or physically? Perhaps let’s tackle the easier question first – where are you physically? I’m sitting in my Airbnb apartment in Warsaw, Poland, in the Powiśle neighbourhood, to be exact. I’m just down the road from the Warsaw University Library, which boasts quite the most enchanting rooftop garden and I’m across the road from the Vistula River and the Bulwary (as it’s said in Polish) – that’s the Boulevard in English. I spent a blustery blue-skied afternoon strolling along the riverbank today with my dog. We feasted on sweet potato fries and I washed them down with a strong black coffee (in search of that afternoon kick). After that I came home for a improv cat nap (I didn’t find the afternoon kick). An Airbnb apartment? But I thought you lived in Poland? Yes, it’s an Airbnb – a cute little studio with subtle references to the arts dotted around. A framed poster of the Polish National Opera hangs on the wall in front of me and reads: Sen Nocy Letniej (after two days of pondering and a quick Google translation check it translates to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I knew sen meant dream and nocy meant night but as is usually the case, the penny hadn’t yet dropped until Google confirmed it). Where were you two days before? I was in the north of Poland by the sea, first in Gdynia and before that Gdansk (in another two Airbnb apartments). I preferred Gdynia but that’s another story for another time. So, yes—I live in Poland but I don’t have an apartment with a long-term tenancy agreement. I most certainly do have a home though. Regardless of where I am, I’m always at home. I don’t see ‘home’ as being bricks and water – for me, home is both where my heart is and where I lay my hat. 

Now, I’ll tackle the supposedly tougher question: where are you right now—in life? But I don’t think it’s such a tricky question to answer. Why? Because I take comfort in knowing that I’m exactly where I need to be. Would you care to elaborate just a little bit more on that? Well, I’ve just never felt more ‘me’ before. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows – I’ve never felt like this before. I mean, I can literally feel emotions in a whole new way (all of them, the good, the bad and the ugly). But I’ve finally started to get to know the true-me so it’s well and truly worth the tears and the tantrums that appear from time to time. At times I feel a bit like a kid again. I’ve started learning what I like and what I don’t, who I am and who I’m not. But as the cushion beside me reads: good things take time – right?

What is it you do? Professionally—I mean. I hate that question. In fact, I’ve stopped asking that question when I meet new people. I rather prefer the question – what do you enjoy doing? But, if you really want to know how I earn a living, I teach English but recently I’ve started to write. I admitted to myself (not so long ago) that deep down I wanted to be a writer. Recently, I admitted that to others too and I was overwhelmed by the warm response I’ve since received. I currently have two projects under way, so as they say watch this space! One is a children’s story titled ‘Lilly and The Door of Curiosities’ and is based on my student, friend and muse, Lili Lejman and her four-legged companion Samon. Together they wind up in a whole new world, one which real-life Lili describes as a happy place (she later added when asked, why is it a happy place?, that it’s a happy place without maths and e-lessons). 

Real-life Lili is quite the artist as well as a comic and she very kindly agreed to illustrate this story for me. All the more reason I ought to finish it off sooner rather than later. She reminds me each week of just that. The other is a memoir from Poland titled Poles Apart – it isn’t just my own personal memoir of my time in Poland but rather a collection of memoirs from the Poles I’ve met along my way, personal stories from those who have helped to shape me in one way or another. So, while teaching English I must admit that I too have been learning some much needed lessons – life lessons.

After all, as WB Yeats said, “Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.”

Now the tinderbox has been sparked, the true-me wants to see it blaze incandescently…

Sasha Elizabeth Parker is from York, England and is slowly working her way to Valencia, Spain — via a five-year sojourn in prickly picturesque Poland. No, not a Ryanair cock-up — as John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”. On the plus side, along the way she’s won the hearts of Poles and developed a penchant for pierogi.

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