A Pole Walks into a Bar

It was the season of burnout. 19 years of education stacked like dominoes, falling one upon the other until, down the line, stands the last domino, bearing the weight and weariness of all the others. In other words, it was time for a vacation.

It was meant as a joke, as is usually the case with us. But her “Yes! I’ll be there!” was sincere, and with that, tickets were booked, plans were made, and I was going to spend a long weekend with one of my soulmates in Vancouver. Ours was a bond forged by hours and hours of sitting next to each other in squishy bus seats, confining plane rows, uncomfortable theatre cushions, and hard desks both domestic and abroad.

We measured our first day in empty drinking glasses and used forks, making our way through Vancouver by our mouths and stomachs. When our food cravings were satisfied but our appetites for adventure persisted, we asked a stranger the question that set the course for our night:

“We feel like flirting and dancing. Where should we go?”

The Roxy was the undisputed answer. It was described to us as the kind of place that everyone rolls their eyes at, but where they inevitably find themselves at the end of the night. Our kind of place. Perfect for two plucky ladies in search of some soulful laughs and sore feet the next morning.

Tables and stools littered the seated portion of the bar, overlooking the rectangular dance floor and the large stage pushed against the back wall. We both clocked him almost immediately. Sitting an arm’s length away, facing our general direction. He hovered in our peripheral collective consciousness.

And…nothing happened.

The conversations we’d had over dinner about taking risks and leaving room for possibilities seemed to have little power over our fear and hesitancy to say a simple “Hello.”

Fortunately, lovely music and some good ole don’t-care-who’s-watching-but-we-secretly-hope-you-all-are dancing sparked our latent boldness and energy into flame.

And that’s how one handsome Pole who walked into a bar came to be involuntarily introduced to two embarrassingly outgoing and giggly American women on vacation who wanted to dance and flirt and have fun.

Encounters inherently carry within them a sort of creative power, for energy is created when two people meet, an energy that didn’t exist before. Maybe you’re lucky and it’s a magical moment. Or maybe it’s a learning moment. Ours happened to be a bit of both.

Our new Polish friend taught us something magical. Our encounter created a special type of magic—not of a romantic nature, but of a human nature.

We danced all night long. We yelled into each other’s ears over the music, laughed into each other’s faces, imitated each other’s dance moves. We listened to snatches of insight into each other’s lives, driven by curiosity and wonder—the purest of motivators.

We were two American women and one Pole. (My second-choice title for this piece.)

And the laughter continued as the night faded into early, early morning, even as we parted ways with meaningful well-wishes and profound parting glances and hugs. No promises for the future, for we had lived fully in the present, and that was enough.

We embodied the moment. We lived it fully. And there was joy and delight and a wondrous beauty in simply sharing our existences with one another.

We just were.


Abby Lombardo

A twenty-something, soon-to-be couple and family therapist, Abby decided to evade the tragedy of a life unexamined by writing—a lot. By studying English and psychology at Westmont College and pursuing a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy at Seattle Pacific University, she forged her passion for telling and listening to stories about how humans experience the world. Abby lives and breathes in Seattle, the city of her dreams.