I Had a Dream…

Lately there has been a lot of news about the place, or rather places!, where this year’s May 3rd parade will be held. Polonia’s home in Slavic Village has for some time been getting painfully smaller and now will have to adjust to the closing of churches and schools…And then we have an unexpected development – two parades! Someone might say, „Enjoy it! That’s the way it is!” It’s not good, though, because too much of a good thing is just the same as not enough.

After much discussion it has been decided that one Polish parade will be held, in accordance with tradition, in Warszawa (that is, Slavic Village) and a second parade will be held in Parma. It’s a little absurd…unfortunately, our Polonia is not able to hide its divisions or, rather, its chronic dismemberment. The saying, „where there are two Poles, there are three parties” has not lost its significance but rather gathered strength. We might say today that where there is one Pole, there are two parades.

I wonder how this second parade will look. I tried to untangle this Gordian knot, but I quickly gave up. I was left with questions like these: Will those who go to one parade do so in order to protest the other parade? And if someone wants to be neutral and go to both parades (since such a possibility exists, without any need for cloning), don’t the parades then turn into a farce for everyone looking on?

Hurray! I’m sorry for such a completely out of place remark, but Logic has just returned to help me, suggesting that perhaps geography and math might explain the dilemma of the two parades. Those who are closer to Warszawa can go to the parade there and those for whom it is easier to strengthen the ranks in Parma can go there…Perhaps there is someone out there under the illusion that the two parades will increase attendance, since each year the May 3rd parade becomes significantly smaller and a less attractive event. Perhaps reproducing the event will improve something, perhaps not. Logic still does not understand that Poles are just not able to figure out the math; seeing my face at the mention of numbers, Logic gave up. And so I just succumbed to a wave of random, illogical (!) thoughts….

It suddenly occurred to me that, as long as we’re thinking about our own comfort and convenience, we could just organize a private parade in our driveway. Why not? This is certainly a manifestation of patriotism. Inviting the neighbors or even everyone on the block would be an additional way to strengthen Polish identity. Because individual events like these are better than collective action. I already had this fight with Logic, but I fell alseep over tables and graphs. I’ve got it, I thought, Poles can do this. And then all of these questions came back, without any answers, and I started to fall asleep again…

A colorful river of people makes its way down the main street of downtown Cleveland. At first I don’t really know what’s going on; I can’t see because of the reporters with their cameras and notebooks. Local television and radio are here and all the local government representatives. I quickly try to remember something that would help me to explain all of this. St. Patrick’s Day? No, wrong time. Somebody famous in town? No. A strike? Yeah, right. The long awaited victory of the Indians or the Cavaliers? Where have you been? The parade comes closer. I see red and white flags with the Polish eagle, the flags of Polish cities, folk costumes; I recognize the faces of some friends, read some Polish words, and hear some songs from the Vistula….This is the May 3rd parade! A Polish parade in the center of Cleveland! Finally! Everyone together! I’m probably dreaming! But I feel it when I pinch myself…

Unfortunately, the pinching begins to hurt a little more. „Now! I have to go to the parade! This is it!” – I call out, brushing something aside. Suddenly I open my eyes. My son’s grabbing my arm and saying, „Mama, wake up! I have to do a school project on Poland. You have to help me!”

Małgorzata Oleksy

Forum, 3/2010