Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Back home

July 25, 2007, Iasi-Romania – brief and disjointed notes on a trip back home, and, as always, back in time, too …

Uneventful trip by plane to Bucharest and then further yet, to the hometown of Iasi. I have meant to mention the $5 beer on the flight over the Ocean, because once again it rubbed me the wrong way (you know which way that is). But I am not going to say another peep, because I was all over the “appallment” of it last year! This year, the surcharge for the extra luggage went from $25 a bag to $50 – something to note for next year! No more shampoo for mom then! And so on, the less courteous, customer (DIS-) service woes continue.

No other details worth mentioning, before I made it home.

The ice-cream treat with dad on the bench in the airport was priceless and timeless. Long awaited and so loving. No quarrels and no fuss. We talked about the family, and the friends, and politics, and music. We talked about how we’re getting old and we change. We talked about missing each other. And in those moments I swear to God and to me that no matter how expensive this trip back home gets every year, I have to take it! He bought chocolate ice-cream. I bought the vanilla, of course. He asked me not to tell mom he bought the chocolate, because it’s bad for his heart and she doesn’t allow. I did tell mom. She shrugged and added: “that’s your dad!”.

The airport in Iasi is like no other: minuscule to non existent. You land in the middle of grass and dusty trees. There’s hardly a building there. More like a barrack. Quite deserted field. In the middle of all the tall, yellow, sun-scorched grass, about 5 to 10 coke machines, abandoned, all still bright red in their “Coke” attire. They look like bleeding scars open to the sky in the middle of the yellow field. Do crows and hawks get thirsty for coke?! I laugh and wonder. My sister reminds me: “Hello, Romania!”.

I pull out the camera to shoot them, and an airport worker comes running towards me, yelling: “ No pictures allowed in the airport! Illegal!” For the life of me, I don’t understand why; it’s the trees and the sun, and the silence of a hot summer day; a handful of people and their pilot, an old, small plane. Who cares? And why would they? Apparently some do! I bet there is no written law against pictures in airports, but there is such a thing as the self-importance of the Romanian public worker that is stronger and louder than any law. Romania!

Same thing in Bucharest: no pictures in airport! So, I had to “steal” a shot of a beer machine: this coke-like machine, filled up with beer cans for sale. Yeah, we have a law against taking pictures of an open, scorched field we call “airport” but we got no drinking age reinforcement! Oh, I love my country! I do! There’s a surprise at every corner indeed.

This year, Romania is hot, too. But really, “hot” doesn’t even begin to remotely describe it! You’re literally (read carefully people, this is NOT a metaphor; this is the REAL, painful word: ) STEWING in your won sweat! You feel like you’re going to start sizzling soon. It’s gross and it’s defenseless. The flowers and plants look sadder than dying sadness even with plenty of water. They’re stewing, I tell you, too!

People’s faces look like Dali paintings, decomposing, liquid, flowing, running … Cats passed out on wheelbarrows, and dogs buried under piles of wood where the sun can’t reach them. Cats and dogs silent for once, and refusing food, because of the heat. They don’t want more calories, and they have nothing but their own body to burn up! They are silent and given up!
And mom cooks! Every day the kitchen is an oven. I want to scream but I have no air and wind left. None. The fan only blows hot air. The illusion of a draft. Waking up in a pool of sweat on the spongy mattress. Icky. But home! Icky but sweet!

Small babies in nothing but diapers and cranky. Gypsy kids knocking at the gate for a handful of grapes, to tame the thirst. They say they never had grapes before, and they’re thirsty. Mom cuts a bunch of grapes for them and threatens to kill them if they steal the grapes! Romania …
At night, the guests (me included) are sharing stories from abroad, of the easy life, the cool air in the A/C vents, while mom and dad share painful stories of living here. You deal with so many jerks and you become one. Otherwise you don’t survive. The nicest people have roughened up and are hurting they’re so blunt at the edges. And it’s hot and the heat makes them even harder …Crankier…

I have reached the end of everything: my will power, my physical strength! I am stripped down to pure sensation and pure need. Nothing philosophical anymore. But I will keep one random thought of high persona: I am indifferent of how hot it can get down here, or how expensive, or how amoral, or even how absurd … I will do this trip every year, most likely, just to sit on that bench with dad and eat ice-cream, and look at the busy airport people and tell each other how much older we are and how much love we share! Everything else is just an accident.

Pictures from trip:

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