Radom, the old Powerhouse.
My brother and I used to study in Lublin. At this time, his flatmate had a girlfriend from Radom. Just after I went to the room, they've asked me:
"Ada, do you know the shortest joke in the world?" "Nope?" "Radom city". That was our way to cope with this strange, unpleasant place. Radom. Roundaboudom. Random.
Curious finding on the main Square.
My friends from Ireland asked me quite often if I will write something about this city and finally, here it is. A bit cliche. A bit melancholic. With an irony. This city is a huge part of my life.
Radom. Behind one of the gates on the main street, Żeromskiego.
I left my hometown about ten years ago. As a matter of fact, I always knew that I'd leave - first, to study and then to work in a different city and I knew I wouldn't come back, to those concrete playgrounds, to those gates with bums, to grey blocks, ruined houses and emptiness.
Radom, abandoned mattress in my neighbourhood.
I come here once in a while; I enjoy changes. I walk the street and enthusiastically explain to my husband: here, in this ruin that is empty for ages, was my school, behind those closed doors was an antique shop where I used to go truant, and I tried to sell my photos for the first time.
XIX century printhouse of Jan Kanty Trzebiński. The one and only.
I enter the archway with my friend to go and see a countless time a XIX century old Jan Kanty Trzebiński print house to show it to my husband. Efka and me, talk about how we wanted to buy it and make a fancy cafe inside. And while we talk, we listen to the GET-THE-FUCK-OFF screams of a bald crowd coming from the stadium.
Radom. Doors opposide the old printhouse.
I'm strolling through Moniuszki, and I think about sandwiches I've eaten hundreds of times when I didn't know about my intolerances.
I'm going further and "admire" a signboard "Pole's Kebab", and later I joke with my friends about "traditional Polish kebab recipe".
I'm annoyed when I listen complains from my mum, grandmother and friends and I bravely withstand reproachful looks that say "you're here too short". I'm here for a week, and I'm already pissed off. I feel heavy. I suffocate because of the city, because a lady in a pharmacy breaths ice towards me and I'm sure she has an ice needle in her heart, and I want to run away before I change into an iceberg.
Radom, the note says "Please pay the rent because waterworks wants to cut off the water".
Because I can't find right shoes for my size and because I miss smiling, happy people that I can see on the streets and in the restaurants. I miss people who sing and hum while they walk instead of grumbling under the breath that "some eejit got in their way".
And as my friends don't understand my need to run away from the dense ambience of this town and memories that are less than pleasant, I don't get their need to be here.
I'll be relieved to leave again and again I will be homesick soon because I can't make a life-lasting friendship in one day.
And somehow it happened that Radom had joined my best, dearest friends and me. Because I can leave Radom but Radom won't let me, it will stay in the admiration for sandwiches from Moniuszki, the love for urban exploration or in memories. Memories that join us, not only the ones that we've made together but also the ones that happened in four walls of our flats.
Radom, "My little homeland"
My husband and I walk to my playground where on concrete used to be swings, sandbox, carousel and ladders and now there's nothing left, and I'm walking into my grandma's building that is protected by the code. The old doors were made of metal and didn't have any protection; anyone could get in and out. I'm walking through the playground (it's the second time when I wanted to write "graveyard"...) where I got hurt innumerable times, where I even had a "boyfriend" and where I even talked to people. I'm walking through the stairs where once I saw a huge bald guy with a baseball bat, plenty of bums and youth in many states of consciousness.
We're getting into the dingy, dirty elevator full of graffiti, markings and some oozes and dried out fluids with an unknown provenience. The lift terrifies my husband whenever he's there. He's never seen something like that. The elevator's button was burnt whenever it was changed. Inside there's a shabby bulletin board with random cards and tonnes of stickers with questions or rather reproaches to the president "Why do we have to run away from this city?". It terrifies Tomek, and for me, it's a part of my life. Concrete playground on the residential area full of same blocks full of flats. 40 square metres flat where six people lived - me, my brother, parents and grandparents. Just a regular Polish childhood.
I'm walking through Żeromskiego and "admire" board with a leopard or panther pattern "Nail world of Karolcia" and some beerhouse where over ten years ago was a headquarters of "Wyborcza" newspaper where my mum used to work.
I pass abandoned fountains with the huge inelegant contraption called "Titanic". I look with melancholy at the abandoned buildings - one pink and another decaying, historical one - where my middle and high school was, where I lost any hope to become a graphic designer.
Ha, I forgot about this dream for years.
Radom, Cathedra. I think this is the only place that still looks the same.
I sit with my friends and talk about Hit, a shop where we used to buy black shirts and spike bands. The shop was continually robbed because of unfortunate location. We talk about concerts that took place in buildings that either don't exist or changed their purpose. We talk about how we found 100 zł (about 20 euros, a huge sum at those times) in deli shop on the corner (now there is a bank).
We pass another former deli with just the neon left. "No one buys in deli. Everyone goes to Biedronka (cheap discount store)", Tomek says with melancholy.
At the "Titanic", we look at the thoughtful Leszek Kołakowski. Tomek starts quite a drunk monologue about school - that it should teach life, Mark Aurelius, Voltaire, not some detached Mickiewicz and Słowacki. "Too much romanticism", he states.
Kościuszko Park without Kochanowski and Orszulka.
At the Kościuszko Park with constant amusement, we look at the sculpture called by locals "A paedophile's monument" - our XVI-century poet Jan Kochanowski with his legs wide open and his daughter Orszulka, peeking over his shoulder straight between his legs.
I think that some time ago we could go only to Parkowa and Legenda and now we even have sushi places... although they're far from good. Some time ago I couldn't walk through Żeromskiego without meeting a friend but also a bunch of bums or thugs. Now there is no one there. Everyone is gone, they've either left the town or started their families and leave homes at different times.
Radom, the window in the abandoned building close to the cemetery.
My Radom is gone, and that's good. I don't have to look around when I come back home; I can safely walk into my grandma's building, I can go for a good tea and coffee. I don't meet men with crowbars in second-hands. No one catcalls me when I'm walking through my neighbourhood.
But people make the town, and this town is so terribly empty, looks so dead.
When it's sunny, it can be even pretty. But today is rainy and windy, and the main street is almost empty, not counting the cold smoker and a dog with a lame leg.
It's so terribly, terribly grey.
Today this city looks the way I remember it.
For this post, I used my old photos from Radom. I took them on the old film camera more than ten years ago (maybe fifteen?). Some of them were for photography projects in my art school.