© 2017 Catherine Le Blanc

Birch Trees and Pools

 

It's still like this when I am at the airport, I want to stand up in the middle of those who are waiting, those on the phone. I want to bring my feet into position. My arms. Fold in my thumb. Stretch my neck long like a swan and start up a dance with the mirrors.

 

A few years ago I came back to Gdansk and returned to the house of my childhood.

 

When I opened the door to my bedroom I couldn't believe my eyes - my toys still laid out exactly the same way as I had left them for our apparent vacation. First we attempted to escape by air. I was just seven years old, when I danced with the mirrors at the Warsaw airport. For me, it wasn't just a waiting hall, it was a real ballroom, in which I flew over the parquet and my dad applauded my performance. Then, two men came and took us with them, and I realized that we weren't in a ballroom after all, but in the Poland of the 1980's. There, where I learned to make something out of nothing, and where a small birch tree becomes an enchanted princess. There, where the amber is quarried.

 

I couldn't take much with me from my room, for when we left, we left quickly.

 

After a train ride that seemed to be longer than my life we arrived in a new land with a new life. We had traveled from the north of Poland to a German reception camp. Behind us lay only a couple of lines of rails, but on no account a way back.

 

At that time, I learned to play, to play without a game. I wasn't even eight years old when I staged plays with my sister. My aunt frequently told me I had discovered my passion for theater much earlier, when we came out of the theater, and my eyes were glowing so much...

 

Life always stood a bit on edge. Will you manage, won't you manage? I was lucky and decided to act.

 

A few years ago, when I felt safe and secure and had great engagements, I thought, if only a child would come into my life, that would be incredible, my life would be virtually perfect! And right at this moment, when I believed this, it all came apart at the seams. Even though I was so sure that I had everything under control.

 

Make something out of nothing! Paint without colors! And my world is pretty colorful in doing so.

 

Dark blue, like the cold sea in Gdansk, when I dig my heels into the sand and my tracks lead directly into the water. Luminous turquoise, like the accumulation of pools as seen from the air at night when approaching L.A. for landing. The color of orange trees in California.

 

No matter who I play, in what language, or where I am. If it is a castle or an hourly hotel. I breath what the role breathes. I feel what the role feels. Until for this moment no role exists anymore. A waiting hall becomes a ballroom. I get off the train and start a new life. I am not afraid to lose anything.

 

When I see a little birch tree I still see a princess.