Academic journal article Chicago Review

Professor Andrews Goes to Warsaw: December 1980

Academic journal article Chicago Review

Professor Andrews Goes to Warsaw: December 1980

Article excerpt

Professor Andrews represented one of the very important, very profound schools of psychology that had a real future ahead of it. Like almost all such schools, it had grown out of psychoanalysis, but had torn away from its roots and now practiced according to its own methods. It had its own history, its own phenomenology, its own dream imagery, and its own theories on raising children. Professor Andrews was at this moment flying to Poland with a bag full of books and a suitcase full of warm clothes-he had been told that Poland in December is exceptionally cold and unpleasant. Everything was going smoothly: airplanes took off, people were talking to each other in different languages, heavy December clouds hung in the sky, ready to send winter's communion to earth, millions of white flakes of snow, each one unique. An hour earlier he had looked at himself in the mirrors at Heathrow and it had seemed to him that he looked like a traveling salesman-he remembered them from his childhood, they would go door to door selling Bibles. No matter-the school of psychology he represented warranted this kind of sales trip. Poland was a country of intelligent people. He just had to plant the seed and he would be home in a week. He would leave them the books-after all, they read English-and then they would be able to consult the authority of the Founder himself. Sipping his drink of fine Polish vodka the stewardess brought him, he remembered the dream he'd had the night before his trip (according to the school of psychology he represented, dreams were the litmus test of reality). He had dreamed of a crow, and in the dream he had played with the big black bird. One could say-yes, he had the courage to admit it to himself-that he had petted the bird, like a little puppy. In his school's symbological system, the crow represented change, something new and good. He ordered another drink.

The airport in Warsaw was surprisingly small and breezy. He congratulated himself for wearing his fur cap with the ear flaps, which he had gotten as a souvenir on a trip to Asia. He saw his Beatrice at once. Small and pretty, she was standing at the exit holding up a card with his name on it. They got into a miniature, beat-up car and she told him the plan for the coming week while nervously driving him around the sad, sprawling space of the city. Today was Saturday, a free day on the schedule. They would have dinner together and he could rest. Tomorrow was Sunday-a meeting at the university with students. (Yes, she said suddenly, it's a little nerve-wracking right here. He looked out the window but didn't notice anything in particular.) Then a lecture at the psychology journal, then dinner. On Monday, if he wanted, a tour of the city. On Tuesday he had a meeting with psychiatrists at some institute; he was in no state of mind to remember the specific names of these places. On Wednesday they would drive to the university in Krak6w. Professor Andrews' school of psychology enjoyed great respect there. On Thursday, Auschwitzhe had requested that himself. To be in Poland and not go to Auschwitz... Then on Thursday evening they would return to Warsaw. On Friday and Saturday there were all-day workshops for practical psychologists. On Sunday, the flight home. Only then did he realize he didn't have his suitcase with the books. They hurried back to the airport, but the bag had disappeared. The girl, her name was Gosha, went somewhere and didn't come back for half an hour. She returned without the bag. Perhaps it had been sent back to London. No problem, she said. She would come back tomorrow, it would probably turn up. Looking out the car window, he didn't hear her agitated chatter. He thought about the other things in the suitcase-underwear, clean shirts, books, xeroxes of articles.

They had a pleasant dinner with her boyfriend. His face was covered by a thick beard and glasses. He didn't speak English, which made him seem somewhat gloomy to the Professor. …

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