Confounding Confinement

Dr. Murray Zedeck

Dr. Murray Zedeck

While it’s hard to feel confined in Steamboat because of the mountain views from almost every window, social distancing takes its toll.

After eight weeks of home quarantine, I yearned to re-explore our local supermarket, my usual way of learning the culture and people in a new or changing environment. When I finally ventured out to roam the aisles of my favorite market, I found myself in the milk section. A couple stood five feet from me perusing a similar purchase and speaking a foreign language. A confirmed introvert, the sound of their words drew me in as if somewhere in my brain, there was a vestige of their language.

Stepping a little closer, mumbling through my medical mask, I asked, “Excuse me, what language are you speaking?”

“It’s Polish,” said the female shopper. Taking no offense at my intrusion, the gentleman added, “It’s our native language.”

“My parents were born in Poland,” I blurted out. “What city did you come from?”

“It wasn’t a city, more like a village, not unlike Steamboat of old. It’s not a town you would have heard of. It was called Zambrow, not too far from Warsaw.

I couldn’t believe my ears, “That’s where my Father was born!”

The man’s last name is Zilber, and he told me that his family had owned the town grain mill, and how the mill stone was turned by a horse, real “horsepower.”

How is that possible? My grandparents owned the mill in that village, surely there was only one. I hurried home to call my father.

“Dad, what happened to the Zambrow Mill when all of your family came to America?”

“We sold it to a family named Zilber.”

 “Why didn’t you ever tell me?”

“You never asked.”

I hung up the phone and thought of the experiences we miss by secluding ourselves away from our neighbors. Perhaps when this period of isolation concludes. my introverted spirit will hear the whisper of my extroverted self and venture out more often. There is so much to learn.

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WINNER of Bud's 2020 Stories from Home contest during our pandemic pause.

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