Tuesday, April 29, 2008

From the Heart ...

For Patrick, with big love …

August 11, 1978. Maia and bubu (my grandparents) and I were walking down the street in Constanta, a beach town in Romania. I was a little over 3 years old. Maia said: “She has another girl. Andreea is her name. She is small, bluish-black, underweight and full of hair”. And then there was silence. And footsteps down pavements. We were all thinking. I could not figure out whether “your sister” is supposed to live with you, or she kind of stays in the hospital, where they were telling me she “came”.

That is my first memory about my sister.

Through almost 30 years of life, growing pains, sisterly bickerness, competitiveness and sweetness, we grew up into women, into loving, giving and accomplished women. We grew up to be each other soul’s mates. She is probably the love of my life. I have never been able to love someone else so unconditionally, so fully, and desperately like I grew to love her. So completely!

And today, her son was born. This is her first. How this puts your life into perspective! I have been trying all day to come up with something intelligent to say about this miracle, but I don’t think miracles are of the mind: they are of the heart, and they should stay there, where they belong.

So, here it is… straight from my heart…

She always wanted an Aries baby. She tried so hard to conceive him just so he can be feisty and determined, just like her sister. But her due date was set for June 11. Oh, well. Like every pregnant woman, she said to herself: “I want him healthy and happy, not Aries”. But he was to have a mind of his own from the tummy already and not just by not being an Aries.

He moved when he wanted to, not when she wanted him to; he was hard to measure, throwing his own due date around all over the month of June for every doctor that’s seen him: June 11, June 10, June 21, June 18 – he was the first baby with no set due date. Headstrong and early, just like his dad, he turned head first at week 28. Ready to go somewhere. He was beautiful in the 3D movies, and he was shameless, he even peed in one. He had his “gentleman”-ly moments though, according to her: “He never kicked too hard”, she’d say.

Any baby is special, but he wanted to be extra-so! He broke the water on Resurrection night of the Eastern Orthodox Easter, April 26 – more than 6 weeks before his earliest “due date”. Doctors wanted to keep him in for days and weeks, but he was determined. He will humor his mom and aunt after all, and be an April baby. Sure, he’ll pick Taurus, just like it’s fitting for a stubborn child (I can’t blame him: less impulsive is always a plus!), but he wanted to be out by end of the month.

He was born today, the last day of Easter. They say a baby is a good omen, but a baby for Easter, when the Heavens are wide open, and God’s light floods the Earth, you can feel the holiness in the air like liquid honey, so sweet and light and yellow, is absolutely angelic!

He is a preemie, but the largest preemie in the NICU of a Montreal hospital, at 4.2 lbs. He even breathes on his own, pretty much. Preventive oxygen tube or not, he is perfect! He is pink and vivacious. He has a wide chest and broad shoulders, just like a man should: to be the support of this family and weak mom, in older years. He has a big foot, like his dad, and a good mouth, like him, too. And all in all, again, he is perfect.

I have a million questions for God and Life right now… and I am sure in time, I’ll get my answers. I do know that he will have the best care and the most love any baby in our family ever had. As his aunt and Godmother, I can promise that!

I am pretty sure, he will have his parents youthful looks for a while, and their well defined features. He will be culturally sophisticated, like them, and bright like them, also. He will be funny, like everyone in our families, and enjoy life. He will speak at least 3 languages, and he will be well traveled. Again, I can promise that! Will be an artist like his grandfather? A gardener like his grandma, or an animal lover or chemist like the other grandparents? Will he be a lawyer or an accountant like his parents? Or, in his perfectly rebel spirit, will he just choose to do something totally unrelated to all? Will he choose Europe or North America to live?! Will he like to fish like his dad? Or will he like cats like his mom? Will he have blue eyes or brown?! Curly hair? Wavy or straight?

Will he like fries like his mommy, or mashed potatoes like his aunt?

Right now, I am looking at his picture and crying … He has so much LIFE packed in those 4.2 pounds! So much curiosity! So much verve and determination! They hooked him up to tubes and he’s clutching on them. He can’t even suck on a bottle, but he’s clutching onto things! He’s a feeler, you see.

I have been melting away with love all day, in splendor of this one shot of him. I want to feel him close, to smell him and touch him, and kiss his feet.

He’s molecule by molecule part of my sister and her husband. They made him from love, and she made him grow from the first ultrasound of a pulsating spot into this whole human, with all the right features.

I asked my sister about him and she said “he has the biggest and softest feet” – and started crying instantaneously… They don’t call this a miracle for nothing, you see. It’s like this door just opened for all of us, and just like after Jesus’ Resurrection the world was never the same place again, so after each birth the world is a little bit more different … A little bit more hopeful, for sure, and a little brighter.

It was supposed to be an ordinary day: clear blue crystal sky and crisp April air. Half asleep drivers almost ran me over twice this morning, and I underdressed, as usual during this month, because it’s so fickle! “April is the cruelest month”, Elliot said, but is it now?! Cruelest-sweetest. Maybe.

His life will be nothing like ours was growing up. Born in the Free World my dad talked to us about like he was telling us a fairy tale. This world is his now. And the possibilities are endless. A woman running for president is on the front cover of the paper today. And so the torch passes on. And so I feel grayer today. My smiles are wrinkled at the eyes. But happier, and hopeful, that there is a man in our family, a new man, who brings hope and support. Just simple hope that life will live on. That our blood will forever live.

It’s strange: I don’t feel like half of my heart that has been dedicated solely for my sister my entire life is now halved to make room for him. I feel, instead, that my heart exploded, and it’s twice as big, and gives them both the same amount of love I’ve given her for 30 years.

Now, I know babies don’t just live at the hospital, where “they come”. Thank God, they come home with us, to brighten our lives and rooms, and to make us more loving, more tender, and more forgiving. To teach us responsibility and kindness.

I just hope I can live the day when I see his baby, just like I see him today. So that I can see him one day as happy as I have seen my sister today. Their love, bond and happiness will fuel me for another 30 years, to be sure.

Thank you, guys, all three of you, for letting me be part of this!

Romanian version here. Please click. _Pentru versiunea romaneasca dati click aici.

First picture of Patrick_ Prima fotografie:

Din Inima ...

Pentru Patrick, cu dragoste mare ...

11 august 1978. Maia si bubu (bunicii mei) si cu mine mergeam pe strazile Constantei. Eu aveam un pic mai mult de 3 ani. Maia spune, la un moment dat: “Are inca o fata. O cheama Andreea. E mica tare, neagra si plina de par”. Apoi se facu tacere. Nu se auzeau decat pasii pe caldaram. Eram plini de ganduri. Eu ma intrebam daca “surorile” vin sa traiasca cu tine, sau stau la “spital” unde erau “aduse”.

Aceasta este prima mea amintire despre sora mea.

Dupa aproape 30 de ani de viata, de dureri de crestere, de rivalitate frateasca si de dulcegarii, am crescut amandoua, si ne-am transformat in femei, in doua femei pline de dragoste, in doua femei implinite. Am crescut si am devenit surori de inima, nu numai de sange. Ea este, probabil, dragostea vietii mele. Nu am mai fost in stare sa iubesc niciodata atat de complet, de neconditionat, si de disperat cum o iubesc pe ea!

Iar astazi, s-a nascut fiul ei. Primul ei fiu. Cum sunt puse lucrurile in perspectiva acum!Am incercat toata ziua sa scriu ceva inteligent despre acest miracol, dar nu cred ca miracolele tin de intelect. Ele tin de inima, si acolo ar trebui sa ramana.

Asa ca … din toata inima scriu aceste randuri…

Ea isi dorea un copil in Berbec. A incercat sa il conceapa in asa fel incat sa fie Berbec, si sa fie luptator, si hotarat, asa ca sora ei. Dar data probabila de nastere i s-a fixat pe 11 iunie. Ei, bine! Ca orice femeie gravida, si-a zis: “lasa, sa fie el sanatos si fericit, si ce daca nu e Berbec”. Dar el avea sa aiba planurile lui inca din burta si nu numai prin a nu fi Berbec!

Se misca atunci cand avea chef, nu cand voia ea; era greu de masurat: toti doctorii care l-au vazut i-au tot mutat data probabila a nasterii, bazata pe masuratori: ba pe 10, ba pe 11 iunie, ba pe 21, ba pe 18. Era primul copil de care am auzit fara data fixa probabila a nasterii. Incapatanat si devreme, ca tatal sau, s-a intors cu capul in jos de pe la 28 de saptamani aproape. Era gata de venire! Era superb in filmuletele tridimensionale de la ecograf, si era fara rusine, ca la unul chiar a facut si pipi. Dar era si “gentleman”, dupa spusele mamei lui, ca “nu lovea tare” cand se misca.

Orice nou nascut e deosebit, dar el voia sa fie si-mai-si! A rupt apa in noaptea Invierii, pe 26 aprilie, cu 6 saptamani inainte de cea mai devreme data probabila a nasterii lui. Desi doctorii tot au vrut sa il tina in pantec cat mai mult, zile si chiar saptamani la rand, el era gata de venit! La urma urmei, ii va face placerea mamei si a matusii lui, sa se nasca in aprilie. Bineinteles ca a ales zodia mai buna, Taurul, lipsa de impulsivitate fata de Berbec e oricum mai buna!

Asa ca s-a nascut astazi, ultima zi de Paste. Se spune ca noii nascuti aduc bucurii, dar noii nascuti de Paste, cand Raiul este deschis si lumina dumnezeiasca inunda pamantul, si poti simti sfintenia in aer, ca o miere aurie, sunt de-a dreptul angelici!

E un copil prematur, desigur, dar e cel mai vanjos prematur din spitalul din Montreal, la 1 kg si 900. Chiar si respira singur. Fie ca are tub de oxigen preventiv sau nu, e un copil perfect! E roz si plin de viata. Are un piept lat si umeri lati, asa cum sta bine la un barbat: sa sustina familia, si pe mama lui mica, atunci cand va fi batrana. Are picioare mari, ca tatal sau, si gura frumoasa, tot ca el. Si, in genere, ma repet, dar e perfect!

Am un milion de intrebari la adresa lui Dumnezeu si a Vietii, in genere, si stiu ca in timp, imi vor fi raspunse.Stiu cu siguranta ca va fi extrem de bine ingrijit si se va bucura de cea mai multa dragoste si grija din partea tuturor celor in familiile noastre! Ii promit eu asta, ca matusa si nasa lui.

Sunt sigura ca isi va pastra frumos tineretea, asa ca parintii lui, si le va semana, prin trasaturi frumoase si bine definite. Va fi sofisticat din punct de vedere cultural, asa cum sunt si ei, si destept. Va fi comic, ca multi din familiile noastre si ii va place viata! Va vorbi cel putin 3 limbi si va calatori mult! Asta e sigur! Dar va fi oare un artist, ca unul din bunici? Sau ii va place gradinaritul, ca bunica? Sau ii vor place animalele, sa gateasca sau stiinta, ca ceilalti doi bunici? Sau, in spiritul sau rebel, oare va face ceva cu totul diferit, si fara nici o legatura cu inaintasii lui?! Va alege sa locuiasca in Europa, sau in America de Nord? Ii va place sa pescuiasca, precum tatei lui? Sau ii vor place pisicile, ca mama? Oare va avea ochi albastri? Sau caprui? Parul cret? Ondulat? Sau drept?

Ii vor place cartofii prajiti ca mama lui, sau pure-ul, ca matusa lui?

Acuma, ma uit la o poza cu el si plang. Pare ca are atata VIATA inmagazinata in acel 1 kg si 900 de grame! Are atata curiozitate! Verva si hotarare. Cand avea tuburi pe el, tine cu manuta de ele. Nici nu poate suge la biberon, dar vrea sa simta el cu manuta lui tuburile. Vezi, ca e sensibil, ii place sa atinga lucrurile.

M-am topit toata ziua de dragostea pe care o simt in splendoarea unei fotografii. As vrea sa il am aproape, sa il miros, si sa il ating, si sa ii sarut picioarele!

Molecula cu molecula, e parte din sora mea si sotul ei. L-au conceput din dragoste si ea l-a facut sa creasca, luna de luna, dintr-un punctisor pulsativ pe ecograf intr-o fiinta umana completa, cu 10 degete la maini si 10 la picioare!

Cand am intrebat-o pe sora mea cum arata, a zis ca are picioare mari si asa de fine!!!! – si a inceput sa planga instantaneu. Nu degeaba se spune ca sunt miracole copiii!

E ca si cum o usa s-a deschis pentru noi toti si asa cum lumea era transformata dupa Invierea lui Iisus, asa si lumea e putin transformata dupa nasterea unui copil! Un pic mai plina de speranta, si de lumina!

Se anunta a fi o zi obisnuita: un cer senin, fara nor pe el, cu aer proaspat si rece de aprilie. Soferi pe jumate adormiti aproape ca m-au accidentat de 2 ori dimineata, iar eu m-am imbracat prea subtire, cum fac mereu in aprilie, ca luna asta e asa de capricioasa. T.S.Elliot spune ca “Aprilie e luna cea mai cruda”. Dar oare este? Cea mai cruda si cea mai dulce, se pare! Poate.

Viata lui nu va semana deloc cu a mea si a sorei mele. El e nascut in Lumea Libera, despre care tata ne vorbea ca si cum ne zicea o poveste. Dar aceasta lume de basm este lumea lui acum. Iar oportunitatile sunt fara limita aici. Pe prima pagina a ziarului de azi este o femeie candidand pentru presedentie. Si asa dam faclia mai departe. Si asa ma simt si mai albita. Zambetele mele au acum riduri la ochi! Dar zambesc, pentru ca sunt fericita. Fericita ca acum avem un barbat in familie care va aduce speranta, si sprijin mai tarziu. Viata merge inainte! Iar sangele nostru merge mai departe.

E ciudat: nu ma simt ca si cand jumate din inima mea care a purtat dragostea pentru sora mea atatia ani a fost injumatatita azi, ca sa ii faca loc si lui Patrick; dar mai degraba ma simt ca si cum inima mi-ar fi explodat si e de doua ori mai mare, si astfel le port amandurora aceeasi cantitate de dragoste pe care am simtit-o pentru ea timp de 30 de ani.

Acum stiu ca noii-nascuti nu traiesc la spital, unde “vin”. Multumesc lui Dumnezeu ca vin acasa cu noi si ne lumineaza vietile si casele si ne fac mai iubitori, mai buni si mai iertatori. Ne invata responsabilitate si dragoste.

Ma rog sa traiesc de ajuns ca sa vad ziua in care va avea si el un copil. Ca sa il vad si pe el la fel de fericit cum e sora mea astazi. Sa le vad si lor dragostea si legatura solida si plina de iubire pe care am vazut-o azi intre ea si el. Ma voi hrani din vederea acestei legaturi inca 30 de ani, cu siguranta!

Dragii mei, va multumesc la toti trei, pentru ca mi-ati ingaduit sa fiu parte din aceasta experienta unica!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Just Observing the World

Random thoughts on a quiet April night … of all sorts ...
Apologies in advance for those feathers which will be ruffled or those eyes which will be polluted.

I have a nest of birdies above my door. I love them, as I love my plants and my cats, almost! I guess the maternal instinct in me loves to watch things “grow” and live. There used to be one birdie in the nest. She looked frazzled and skittish. Every time I’d open the door, she’d fly away. Now there are two. I am guessing, she found a mate. Woo-hoo! I’ll have babies next to watch! I cannot wait. Now, every time I look up at the nest, one birdie always looks asleep, and the other is on the lookout for noises and what might happen next. I am (almost) betting my yearly paycheck the one on the lookout is the momma, and the daddy is just asleep and lazy. But then again, I might be wrong.

I found a wine at the store, whose name is “Oops…”. The “subtitle” (can wines have those?) is “Mistakes Happen”. Hhmm… I guess that’s what you should have to drink before a one night stand you’ll regret for the rest of your life, or before you get knocked up. They’ll ask you: “what happened?”, and it’ll be fun to say: “well, we both had a glass of Oops and that did it!”. It’s all in the wine – isn’t that what Romans taught us?!

Browsing the fish counter in the store, I read the salmon label: “Fresh Atlantic Salmon. All Natural. Color added”. Hhhmm… Why in the hell would you add “color” to fish?! You don’t add preservatives to keep it fresh; you don’t even freeze it to keep it fresh; but people are worried it’s not pink (or orange) enough?!? There are some folks out there in marketing that are terribly confused, I think. I just cannot imagine this: you send out a survey, with this question: “What is the main reason you didn’t buy Atlantic Salmon at Harris Teeter in the past 6 months: a)freshness; b)price; c)not interested in that fish; d) the salmon is not pink enough” – and a bazillion Americans check d). I just cannot see that!

I apologize in advance to my very good friend whom I love dearly and who’s been giving me crap about me making fun of fat people. Because I know I am going to piss her off. But sometimes I just cannot help it and … I MUST say this! It kills me!
I know there are folks out there who are large because of some medical condition, and I am definitely never talking about those. But it’s the folks who have no common sense and no measure of what they eat that I refer to in my pet-peeves. There should be no excuses for folks who come to class with a McHeartAttack for breakfast and a supersized milkshake, AND have TWO (not one) enormous chocolate brownies (they eat them with a fork, like it’s a freakin’ cake) for snacks during the day as to why they’re large; that’s on top of lunch, of course. And yep, you guessed it: in a class of 10, they’re the only one taking the elevator for a one story building. Now, that’s lazy-fat to me, not medical-fat.
Also, till today, I never thought you COULD get “to go boxes” at a buffet. It’s an “all you can eat Chinese buffet”. And the woman (again in the 300+ range) has been eating for about 30 minutes, plateful after plateful, and after that … she asks for a “to go box” and fills it up with food. No, not just one spring roll. It’s another … plateful of fried rice and sesame chicken. Again: that’s your fault for being 300+ lbs, don’t even try to squeeze into my plane seat next time, or else!

I noticed while in a public restroom today, that the doors of the stall (at least the logo I am referring to was just on the door, not the walls of the stall, too) was provided by this company called “Hiny Hiders”. After a quick chuckle and thinking: “Wow! That’s the best thing I have heard since ‘The Happy Can’ Porta-Jon company in Atlanta.” – and trying to figure out whether that’s creative or purely too graphic for my taste – I noticed that the logo featured a man using the bathroom: he was standing behind the door that’s provided by “Hiny Hiders”, facing the toilet, of course, in the tiny logo picture. I wondered what the company would be called if they featured a woman doing the same action?! Hhmmm …

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Beach

“A friend will bail you out of jail … a redneck friend will be sitting next to you saying: ‘Dang, that was fun!’”.

I wish sometimes I were a beach gal. No, I really do! This blog would meet the expectations of beach going folks everywhere then! So, I really wish I got a kick out of going to the beach, and the salty air, and the crispy skin in the summer, and the shell-shaped necklaces and the flop-flops, and the funky, flimsy tanks showing your nipples, and the big tall drinks with the cute umbrellas in them, and the cups you get to keep, and all that sand coming off in the shower, and the pools and the hot tubs, oh, joy! … But I have wiry hair that hates the sun and the humidity and the salt in the air. And fair skin that never, but I mean never tans, but always burns! And I am a beer chick. I cannot swim, either. And let’s not talk about the nipples! I am shy, too! So, the beach does nothing for me!

I do want to live within weekend driving distance from the ocean, though, because occasionally, I like to visit it, even for just a change of scenery. The ocean, also, helps me think! When I see that whole world, hidden under waters, as well as seeing the waves coming and going, all that passing, renewing … just like the tides of life – that puts things into perspective, and into motion for me. So, I like to visit.

This spring’s beach trip was not just helpful for my life perspective. But also intrinsic to fill up my dry girlie well. Let me explain!

This trip was all about being with the girls and being a girl. No boys to worry about. Plenty of room to drink beer, feel bloated, burp and do it all over again … Plenty of time to shop till I dropped (you all know I am an anti-shopping crank year-round) and not worry about the bottom line. Everyone else was doing it, so why should I worry?!?

And who cares if you’re too drunk or tired to put on your lipstick or mascara, or whatever, we’re all friends: we’ll tell you it looks like crap, we’ll even take pictures to prove it and then help you put it on right!

Plenty of opportunities to gossip till we feel like we just ran out of victims in the whole wide world! And boy were we mean: from people we couldn’t stand, to people who we felt sorry for! We were ruthless. And plenty, oh, plenty of opportunities to see how fortunate and loved I truly am to have such friends to do it with! Sometimes it’s just good to kick back and just speak out loud about people you withhold about all day long, because of darn political correctness!

Yeah, they told me I am a “damn Aries” who can’t keep her mouth shut most times, and they made fun of my hatred for sweets (what girl hates chocolate, right??), and they told me that I like dull people, otherwise I can’t fall in love, and that my hair might look like a “skunk” in a couple of months, when my gray streaks will really be huge enough to tell … and one day they even told me I looked bloated! Burp!!!

And I felt free to tell them back: that they are fashion Nazi’s, that they are judgmental and gossipy, that they are geeks, that they snore and I am happy we’re not sharing rooms! It was all in good fun and good laughter (I hope!!).

It was such a great, rejuvenating weekend of just being silly and “worrying about” silly things. When would I ever have time to shop around the gift shops in Greensboro and just browse and laugh at goofy signs, like “Feng-Shui is Chinese for moving your husband’s crap in the garage”, or “After my last relationship I fell in love with food, and now I can’t get in my own pants!” ?! I tell you: I do not know of many great guys out there who would have gotten this and laughed with me as hard as the girls did!

And then, of course, we talked about “girlie” stuff, which is not to be mentioned here, but it’s to be imagined, I am assuming, by … imaginative minds.

We people watched, and gossiped, just like only girls know how to, pointing out the gorgeous “bimbo” and the old man couple at the raw fish bar who were looking pretty out of place, kinky and drunk, or the crazy men on the pier who were trying to hit on us with lame lines which must have died probably 50 years ago, not that they seemed to have caught up on that; we met new people, for some, like the pier guy, a happy and drunk ol’ man, who had a story for every day he’s spent there, whose tales were as colorful as the drinks he was having mixed for himself at 10 AM every morning. Aww, all good times! Never to forget!

And guys, seriously: do you really not know when your hairy butt crack is hanging out smiling at the sky from under your pants?! Or you do, but you really think that’s sexy? I tell you: it’s NOT! It’s funny, yeah, but not sexy! I wondered if our ancestors who actually fished to survive impressed their lasses with a free viewing of their buttocks?! Wonder if by evolution, we, girls of today, just lost the meaning of it all?!? Hhmmm…

Thank God for friends who think that’s as funny as I do, and even snapped a shot of that awkward view! And even as a non-ocean chick, ladies, I am up for another round the next time we all get a chance! Thanks all for coming and building the memories!

Enjoy some pictures here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Birthday Blues

My philosophy teacher in high school had a birthday wish that has been my favorite ever since. He used to say: “I wish you precisely what you wish yourself today!”. It’s a bit of a cop out, but it’s so selfless, too!

There is something that makes your heart jump when the age on your MySpace profile rolls over from one number to the next overnight. You hold your breath, you dig out all the tax documents, the Cosmo magazines, the market surveys you’ve been emailed over time and which are stored by the thousands in the Junk email folder and you want to know: “Oh, hell, did I slide over in a different bracket now??? Is a whole new (older) generation of men going to hit on me now?!”. And you breathe a sigh of relief when you realize that … nope, not yet: you got one more year… or two… But you know you’re old enough!

If you know me at all, you know that I somehow insist to be sad on my birthday every year. Not sure why, but I am! I am not making myself sad, it just happens that way …

The passing of time, the hopeless irreversibility of it, I guess, does it every time. I am usually pretty happy with what I have done so far in my life, and where I have been. Maybe the fact that I can’t do the last year or years all over again brings sadness?!

To soothe the melancholy about becoming older, God (an ironic and clever one too) put next to my dinner table a group of 20 some year old girls who were talking about life (hhmmm…yeah, they thought so!), dating and weekend plans. Of course I eavesdropped! Every 3 words that came out of their mouths was followed by “like”. They were not “cold”, they were “like cold”. And the sushi was “like expensive”. Their next boyfriend “MUST adore sushi, or else he doesn’t make the cut. Because, you see, that’s like important to me!” – one said. And I thought I had dating issues!
Then, I also found out that 20 some year olds are grossed out by the thought of sharing food. Even appetizers or sushi. Hhmm… That sense of fierce individualism and selfishness and over-protectiveness is indeed getting the next generation: always on the lookout for what to fear next; the next cataclysm that can potentially kill them, like germs from each other, maybe?!

And that’s when I thought: my bracket might not be the first one listed in the surveys anymore, and I won’t get hunks to hit on me anymore, but I would not give anything to go back in time, not even 10 years. Not even 5 !!! I’m enjoying the little bit of sophistication I am showing for my years. Just like wine, you know what they say! Oh, the insecurities, and fears, and cheap talk… Not missing them much!

This year, my birthday came with good and bad surprises, as always. People that I even forgot they knew my name emailed and sent me cards. And people I thought I mean a lot to forgot it altogether.
I always wondered how to take the fact that some ex’es forget my birthday? As a compliment: they know I hate my birthdays and they don’t want to remind me?! Or as an insult: that we can’t even be friends, since I don't need to be remembered by them not even once a year, on my day?! Still debating, but I think they’re screwed!

I will probably still not enjoy my birthdays as much as my mom does! She tells me the story of my birth all over again, every year, with renewed enthusiasm, like it’s the first time, and she throws two parties, one for her friends and one for work, although I’ve lived on a different continent for 10 years now. (Aren’t people having kids for such selfish reasons?!)
But I can’t be too sad nor complain much this April, either: I’ve eaten my favorite food, got nice presents from my closest friends and family, I missed a dear friend I lost, was remembered by long forgotten friends, traveled, of course, even had a cake, even shopped just like a girl should on her birthday.

And although a lot of folks said a lot of nice things indeed, the nicest, most wonderful wish I have received was from a total stranger. And although it was directed to my group of girlfriends, I took it personally, as the birthday timing seemed appropriate to do so. Instead of “good bye”, the funny man on the pier said this weekend: “May every day be a party, and every meal be a picnic!”

And that is all I am wishing myself for the next year!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

An Unplanned Trip - Atlanta

Thank you, C.!

There is one common feeling that unites all my trips, no matter how long, or where the destination, or whether I travel by land or air. And that is the feeling of unbounded gratefulness. To God, nature, and Life: that I have a body that allows me (still) to pick up and go; that there is a certain amount of safety I feel when I launch off my front porch; that I have the means to do it; that there are friends out there who either do it with me, or host my crazy outings.

Sometimes I’d pick up and go with a definite plan in mind, an itinerary and a defined timetable. And other times, when the town I live in becomes claustrophobic, I just play it by ear. Like this past weekend when all I wanted is to visit my friend in Atlanta. He’s funny and he can pack hours of entertaining just by being locked up in a room with him and listening to his fibs. That’s all I wanted: I wanted the road trip, to put some distance between daily routine and myself and to listen to my friend C. crack me up.

And, as it happens, on adventures like these, I got so much more.

I got to finally drive myself, all alone to a big city and actually not get terribly lost. One road fear down, 1000 to go! Hey, it’s the first step that counts!

I got to experience one of the quirkiest, and equally delicious restaurants I have ever been to: R. Thomas and Son. Funny name aside and all (kind of like a law office, but not ...), the place is unique: wind chimes and parrots and beads hanging from the purple ceiling, the place which is tucked under a tent, it reminded me of Key West, or some place in the Caribbean, but also of Amsterdam, for it’s eclectic-ness . They’re open 24/7 and they have breakfast round the clock.

I was not surprised that C. knew about the best place in town that has “breakfast 24/7”: we always used to go to Cracker Barrel in Greensboro, and he always used to order breakfast, no matter the time. I am glad some things don’t change so much over the years.

R. Thomas also had caged birds outside, that said “Bye” when you left, and “Hello” when you were heading in …

The food was all organic, and it tasted fresh, delicious and extremely non-greasy and non-stuffy, much, much unlike a MacBiscuit, or whatever they call those nowadays…

In this little quirky joint, I also discovered blue corn and how much I love it indeed and how that now opens the door for new culinary adventures, as I will learn everything about it: where you find it, how you cook it, how you season it, what you serve with it, you name it. It was the most basic dish you have ever seen or tasted: nothing like corn, nor beans, but somewhere in the middle. It was earthy, and simple and delicious! One hour of breakfast, one forgetful waiter later, I got more than a mouthful – as you can tell.

Also with no plans, we got to see the Georgia Aquarium, as the skies look cold and menacing, and drippy. It prides itself as “the largest aquarium in the world”, and I’d have to say: I was expecting “the” largest to be much larger than that. I guess in the number of kids and toddlers it can accommodate in 2 hours, yeah, it beats anything I have ever seen!

I had never seen Beluga whales nor whale sharks before, so there was another first. I also didn’t know about the electric eels. I’ll have to admit: I thought that’s a horrible name of a band in the 80’s, but they’re actual creatures!

We then walked to the CNN center not for the tour, which both of us have done before, and found it sort of dull (well, we both work for media people, so I guess we’re tougher to impress!). We went to CNN for snacks. I needed my ice cream and nuts fix for the year and C. wanted some donuts. About 3 disgustingly delicious ones!

I also found out about the Georgians’ sense of humor: their PortaJons are called either “Happy Can” or “Pit Stop”. I thought “Happy Can” was quite funny!

We also had a couple of large gatherings with friends; most notably one in a Mexican restaurant where you can watch tortillas being made fresh from dough, and where they recycle beer bottles by building chandeliers out of them. All I can say is: Paige Davis, eat your heart out!

But just the road tripping was welcome: to weave in and out 3-4-5 lanes amongst crazy centipede-like tractor trailers, which are completely unaware of their weight and size and speed on I-85 at speeds I am scared to tackle; just taking the Atlanta skyline in and architecture – would have been enough!

Historic houses, reminiscent of Scarlett O’Hara’s days right next to high rises or California-like modern homes, the woods of magnolia trees and dogwoods at every street corner – would have been plenty, just to rinse my retina of routine images I have been looking at here, at home, since my last trip!

Those and just to re-discover a very dear friend, the way I remembered him was priceless. We talked about our lives, relationships, loves and lost hopes and some newly gained ones, future plans and future dreams. We realized that years and physical distances matter not when the heart holds a stronger bond. Being an immigrant, I knew that – but it was nice to be reminded.

C’s stories, laughter and silliness – would have been divine! And his wisdom, too!

But it was so much more. As usual, a trip never disappoints. And again: I am rested and recharged, but most than anything: I am grateful. And looking forward, very much, to the next one.

For pictures, click here.

PS: The fact that I didn't go on and on about what the weather was like (awful, to sum it up!) should tell you that the trip was a hit!