That's my Olecko
Updated: Apr 30, 2021
Olecko is a small town with a population of 17 000, located in the northeastern part of Poland, generally known as Masuria.
Masuria has thousands of lakes, endless expanses of wild nature, the scream of birds before and after sunrise. Masuria is the feeling when you draw too much air into your lungs, and you feel dizzy. Masuria is a land saved by God for a summer’s camping.
This is where my town is.
Olecko's identity is assigned to me. People I’ve met there, whom I was lucky and honored to meet, shaped my personality, determined who I am, and added the right spices to the sauce of my life.
When I think about Olecko, I see sails: my great love! The first wonderful and truly unconditional love of my life - old boats, crackling with gusts of wind, as if they wanted to whisper something important, white sails gnawed by the teeth of time, often not so white, smelling of the history of a pre-war sailing club, steeped in memories of an old tavern, resin, and beer. Corrupted, proudly puffed canvases echoing Irish shanties.
The sailing club was my life when I was 16. My parents were getting divorced, and I wanted to belong. A teenager's rebellion combined with a disintegrating family is a recipe for a Molotov cocktail.
I didn't explode. I was sailing.
I would close my eyes and indulge in the feeling of boundless, undefined, unlimited, wild, primal, true freedom. But like everyone else, I needed support. Sails have always been there for me. There the rules were set by Neptune, and I understood them. I loved Neptune and I believed he knew it.
When the sailing season was over, I would fall into the pool season. I loved billiards. I played, played, played. The night was too short, the day too bright. The precision of the blows confirmed the existence of gravity, Plato, light, and wave. Suddenly, physics crept into the dimension of personal reference. I didn't like physics, but I understood it pretty well. I was good at this ball game. So locally good that I remember the funny situation associated with it.
During one of the cruises on Masurian lakes, together with friends from the sailing club, we visited a lively, small, noisy, remembering better times tavern to support business and drink beer. The pool table was part of the decor. My fellow sailor, without thinking, suggested that we play doubles with local regulars. Beer for free and a moment of feeling like a winner! Sure! Always!
He went, he was gone, a few minutes later he came back with some guy I had never seen before. He shot me a distrustful look and said in an unquestionable tone: “I buy beer, but I don't play with you! I saw you playing ... I'm the best here! And let’s leave it that way! "
We drank a beer. We never played.
Even more than sails, billiards gave me a sense of control. Sails, more than billiards - a sense of understanding.
In addition, art was an inseparable part of me, my life, and my town. Never again have I met so many great real artists per square kilometer. It was Olecko's soul hidden in the lake, it was they who set the direction of the wind on this lake.
Great musicians, painters, writers, cinematographers, photographers, and actors. Poland knows about some of them, and only us, people from Olecko, know about others, so that makes them even more special. I always feel like the chosen one when I think about it.
Their efforts and willingness to present Olecko's energy to the world led to the organization of the famous Olecko Stop.
And yet they could sit at home, in slippers, enjoy the general nothingness, stagnation, and small-town apathy. And they do not! They wanted confusion, noise, publicity. They figured that even the birds on the lake, which are absolutely protected and in a quiet zone, should experience rock'n'roll at least once a year.
Has become! And it is happening to this day, for almost 30 years.
Yes! I know those people who do this every year. I thank them for never giving up, I admire their imagination, I love them for their optimism and the need to create. They are my people!
On my personal map of Olecko, there are thousands of small colored points, marking places, events, people ... Everything that was important. This is my favorite map because I have a whole collection of maps.
This one reminds me of where I came from, how far the road was and how I was able to overcome it.
When I look closely at this map, under the microscope - 100 times magnification - I see gray dots, various shades of gray between the wonderfully bright points. They are those who have fallen into holes and are unable to dig themselves out: they complain, envy others, are mean, malicious. They are those who do not lack the energy to hurt their neighbors but do not have the strength to look inside themselves. They are those for whom venom dominates the composition of the blood flowing in their veins.
However, when I move away from this map - the perspective brightens my reflections - I know that these grays are not Olecko's nature, they are human nature, and I often think with a bit of sarcasm that it is even so patriotic Polish nature.
My Olecko is dominated by color, it is like an encouragingly blinking neon, an invitation to dance, a temptation to indulge in madness.
You want to come back to Olecko.
I am coming back ... And again, everywhere is close.