My sister and brother-in-law just took their oath to become Canadian citizens. They were happy, excited, tired after almost 5 years of waiting, and grateful that they finally could be settled in a country that can offer their children a life that they only dreamed of while growing up.
My mom, on the other hand, was sad, and crying. Not so much of joy, but of sadness.Sadness, she said, of "losing yet another child (my sister) to North America". She wrote to my sister the same thing she wrote to me in 2006, when I took my oath to become an American citizen: "I lost another child. You have no connections to your mother country and we lost you forever. You have no reason to consider yourself tied to us anymore".
As my sister said, of course she is very wrong. She forgets that wherever we are, and whoever's flag we gather under, deep, down to our character, personality, and even daily routine, we are, and will forever be, and will die Romanian.
Twenty something years of growing up in Romania, and a lifelong belonging to a Romanian family and speaking Romanian, cannot be erased in a 5 minute interview. We say our prayers in Romanian, we think in Romanian when we talk to our innermost selves; we celebrate the saintly feasts and cook Romanian foods for Easter, Christmas, and New Year's. We still think twice when Tuesday is the 13th of a month - a Romanian superstition. We cross ourselves when we start a trip - another Romanian superstition, and we say "So help us God" instead of "Good luck", something we were raised to always do in the mountains.
Today, a co-worker came in with lunch from Qdoba. It was a huge burrito, I think... and it smelled divine. I walked over to see what he was eating and made a mental note of the ingredients. That's what I wanted for dinner! Now, I could have gone to Qdoba and bought a burrito, but I didn't. Instead, I went to the grocery store, got a bell pepper and some lettuce, and came home and made my own burrito: I forgot the buy tortillas and I even made those from scratch, with flour, salt, baking powder, olive oil and whatever else was needed ...
About an hour or so and three dirty pots latter, I had a feast: I layered the ingredients on the fresh flour tortillas: salsa, lettuce, Mexican rice, beans, sauteed turkey, peppers and onions, with garlic and cilantro, topped with sour cream. My house smells like a home now, and I am about to burst, I am so full!
I have been cooking a lot lately: part of it is budget-related, and part of it is, I guess, missing home and ... being Romanian. I love a house wrapped up in the smell of garlic sauteed in olive oil! And carrots and onions sauteed, too. I love the smell of coriander on any kind of meat cooking to perfection.
I love the constant Christmas feeling of having leftovers every day! I love, most times, cooking for at least an hour or two every week, if not every other day.
That's one thing I wish my mom would see: the Romanian can leave Romania, but Romania will always live in the Romanian, stubborn as ever, stinking of garlic to high heavens! And cooking everything from scratch is just one thing we have ingrained in who we are, my sister and I. And just one thing my mom should be proud of for giving us.
As they say: "The best parent gives their kids two things: wings and roots". And she did a marvelous job of giving us plenty of both.
Thank you, mom!
Forever yours ...