Friday, April 14, 2006

Soaking in the Flavor of Home

Iasi, Romania

"To really love a woman
Let her hold you -
Till you know how she needs to be touched
Youve gotta breathe her - really taste her
Till you can feel her in your blood "

... when you drive down the road and you hear this on the radio, you know youre in Romania .Things are behind here, with everything .Not only by 10-15 years sometimes, but maybe 100-200 . But thats the charm of being here. And when I return I feel like my heart slows down a bit, just to run, for a couple of weeks, on an ancient speed Its refreshing, just like a good nap.
I thought I'd do a short (relatively short, since I cannot write short )entry today, so I won't piss off mom who already thinks I spend too much time on the PC. I also have to defrag this old machine and clean up the spyware, so, here I go...
What's it like being here?! Well, first and foremost, I am reminded every day why I left: too little money, too high prices, always in debt. Potholes the size of tubs in all the roads pickpockets everywhere and they smell too dust... so much dust and so thick and sticky... fines charged for things that are not illegal, but the policeman is always right, so if they should ask for money, you gotta give it to them (although you get no receipt, so you know the money ends up in their pocket); some parliament official decides to cancel customs taxes for 48 hours only, and after the 48 hours the taxes are back in; reason being: he has to import something for his own business from Germany during those 48 hours and he'd like not to pay extra money .Once he's done, taxes are back The blocks of flats have huge holes in between the stories, from water damage; insulation is poor, and the hard winters peel off the crumbling concrete they're made of; but everyone carries a cell phone, while complaining they don't have enough money to fix the insulation; stray animals in heat everywhere, roaming free; biting people in the streets; people dying from bites, and the stray animals get a lawyer (honest to God lawyer), so that the city won't kill the animal, for biting a human to death; you make $500 a month if you are really lucky and your gas bill alone is $100 of them; gasoline at the pump is over $4 a gallon and most of everybody owns a car, or sometimes two...always in debt and I can go on and on till the cows come home.
On the other hand, inside the house, when you see your family, the climate is warm and the smiles are big; we party every day; we cook grilled food on a real wood grill, and home make everything, from French fries to jarred pickles, from ice-cream to wine . We bring out the cloth table covers and the best China and gather around the huge dining room table when we have 20 guests over, pretty much every week and have a sit down dinner, with 5-6 courses; it feels like Christmas again; we talk all at one time and we laugh for hours on end; we turn the TV on and dance on Romanian music till after midnight . We eat non-stop, and drink too, all day long, and yet never feel quite full nor drunk. We hug a lot and kiss on both cheeks. We buy hot bread right out of the brick oven and eat half of the loaf before we get home. When we run out of the goodies, we need not drive anywhere, since the distances here are so close. When some of the non-family guests leave the women in the family get together around the kitchen table and cross stitch and knit and we talk about the men and how corky and impossible they are (yes, some things are universal); one of us gives some a manicure, and sometimes a haircut, while another gives another one a facial treatment; the men go to the living room and watch soccer; it's all under one roof and all very intimate; we love close quarters ...
It's not the quality of life that is offered to us that makes us tick; we lost all the hopes in all the governments we've ever had, and also all hope that Americans will ever come to our rescue; we have nothing to offer the Americans but our history and cultural richness, which don't come with a price tag! It's not the quality, I said, of life we're given that makes us happy; it's how big of a bite we take from it; we gorge on life here! We love the moment more than we love the future, because we know the future might never come, and it never comes brighter. And the moment is here, and now and at least we have each other. And this is what I miss when I am away. This is why I do come back: because every year I need to recharge my batteries from this richness and love. I need to be kissed on both cheeks and hugged a lot! I need to dance along with other people that won't look at me funny if I dance on impulse when I'm cooking a pot of fries! I need to be free, in my heart... Which is odd I left Romania for the complete freedom of the most free country in the world and yet I come here for it one more time... Just like the boy in the Alchemist or the Buddha: you start on a journey only to find out what you're looking for has always been either home, or within yourself ... It's so ironic, and it repeats with every destiny and yet we always set off on that journey! We always follow what we believe is our path. Mine is in America, I guess, with Romanian detours every so often ...
Home smells like dust and unwashed stray dogs; smells like rain on cool April nights; it smells like starch which mom uses for all her bedding; it smells like hot fresh French bread; it tastes like homemade wine and apple pie (NO cinnamon either!!!); it feels like mom's hugs and kisses: plenty and generous and safe; home is patience and slowing down; lack of speed and plenty of attention on the small things. Home is cats on a window sill baking in the sun ... Home is the real wood grill burning outside and waiting on the "mici" meat to be thrown on it ...Home is poor and rich at the same time, but always happy ...Home is timeless pleasures ... And it will forever be imprinted in my personality and character, no matter how many thousands of miles the airlines will take me ... Home is listening to Brian Adams' song and never even crossing your mind its an old song ... It's just singing along and thinking it's a good one ...
For pictures (might have to cut and paste):

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