My socks are completely wet; I had been walking for more than five hours in shoes full of rain water. It had been pouring since I left the hotel to visit the death camp. After my heartbreaking visit, I go back to the hotel before taking the train to Krakow. The first thing I do in the lobby is to change my wet socks and shoes.

On the train, leaving Auschwitz. Photo by Kamran Ashtary

I ask for a taxi. I tell the driver to take me to the train station as fast as he can, not minding how much it costs. Not caring how he will drive in the small streets of the city of Oswiecim. I want to get out of this small Polish town as soon as possible.

Finally in the old looking train; I sit down, put my headphones on. I press play:

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love

Leonard Cohen’s Dance Me to The End of Love is with me in my head until I get to Krakow.[/youtube

On the train, I leave two other men who I saw in the camp. For a moment the three of us look at each other. Their body language tells me Leave me alone. They are lost in their deep thoughts as am I.

In Krakow, I take the first taxi to the hotel.

In my hotel room, I take off my clothes and shower for longer than I have ever showered. From the minute I put my feet on the ground of the camp, I wanted to get out of that place as fast as I could. I am not sure if I did the right thing to visit. I want to go away from the place that made me feel as though I was surrounded by the ghosts of those who ware horrifically put to death. I am angry with myself that this journey took me more than 25 years after first learning of the Holocaust.

When I get home, I begin to paint.