I was told I was born a “big baby”. I am told I am a “small woman” now. It’s all relative and a matter of perspective, I guess.
I was born in another world. Quite literally. It was called Romania then. I call my world North America – occasionally Romania now. It’s a giant leap and not only in geography!
There was no email 40 years ago. No World Wide Web, either.
No iPhones, iPads or anything “Apple” for that matter (well, of course, outside The Beatles, but that’s another story).
Microsoft was founded only 5 days before I was born. Countries like: Russia, Slovakia, Moldova, Armenia were not sitting on their own on the maps of the world.
Same sex marriage was not recognized by any country in the world, and I was born under a dictatorship. Today, I live in the allegedly most democratic country in the world. Allegedly. There is always perspective, you see, and interpretation.
The original World Trade Centers were barely 2 years old! You know where they are today.
Cell and cordless phones were not commercially available. I grew up with rotary phones and phones lines that “coupled” people (strangers) on the same numbers. So, you had to “yield” if your neighbor was making the call before you got a chance to.
I was born in a blizzard, in April, in a poor family, and my parents were full time students. I was born in a world were dads were not allowed in the maternity room at delivery time. I probably saw my dad days after I was born, and I was cleared to have contact with the outside world. Or rather, he saw me …
It was a small world. A bleak world. A far away one. But full of fire. Full of potential, desire, brains, and drive. To some extent, a world with a limited horizon, except if you were my parents. My parents knew that their kids will have the power to dream – and they were there to encourage it and to kindle the fire under our dreaming, so we can take off. And as with everything, they, of course, were right. We did take off.
I still hear my mom say “40 years is a lifetime”. And you know what, looking back from where I am standing now … it really is! I am seeing myself through these years, growing, maturing, succeeding, but most of all, most importantly, failing, and failing hard. I took some royal falls, that cannot be mended with a band aid or cured with an aspirin! But I also had amazing dreams come true, wild, insanely unrealistic dreams become reality. I have watched people’s extreme happiness and deepest sadness all the same, and all of it dug deep wrinkles in my forehead and even deeper in my heart.
I lost people that helped me grow, that tended to me when I was too small to take care of myself – all my grandparents, relatives that helped my parents raise me and my sister. I lost dear friends to horrible diseases. I lost pets I loved like my children. But I also gained amazing love and wonders in my husband, and my nephews. I gained renewed strength and built memories with all the friends that I have made over the years. Friends I have known and loved since middle school. And high school. And college. And since I moved to the US, 17 years ago.
My great grandparents never left their counties, or sometimes their cities. They never saw the sea, or jumped on a plane. My grandparents never even dreamed of leaving the country. I have seen half of Europe, one Asian country and have seen half of the US and the East Coast of Canada. And I still think I have seen nothing compared to most!
I remember when my parents could not figure out how to get back in touch with their best friends from college or high school, just to catch up. I can reach mine, with a click of the keyboard, through Facebook. My friends live nowadays anywhere between Armenia and the UK, Denmark, Italy, Canada and France. “Imagine there’s no countries” is becoming a reality, I suppose.
Looking back, I can tell you, you learn a lot in these 40 years. You can’t help it! Even when you defy learning, learning forces itself onto your throat … And you grow. And you know. Or at least you pretend you do. You gotta show something for this gray hair, I tell ya that much!
I know now that not looking back is a gift. Use it often. Move on, remember, but don’t wallow! Second looks are for losers. And as the song goes, “there is no time for losers”.
Life won’t give you second chances much … er … at all. So, don’t waste your time giving them to others. Trust me – people will disappoint you every chance they get!
Once in a long while, someone will leave you speechless with their generosity, love and, yes, even sanctity! Embrace it, and thank God you met them! Then, try to return that favor.
Always be honest with yourself, even if it makes you bleed! Lying to yourself is the biggest, most hopeless hole you can get dig yourself into, and no one will ever give a damn to pull you out of it!
Don't ever, and I mean, not even when you're craving that big mansion your sister just bought, or that stupid car your co-worker is leasing for more than your mortgage, don't ever chase someone else's dreams! Just 'cause the world has to have 3 kids, a gray dog, a white picket fence, a house with a basement and a fireplace doesn't make it right for you. And what is right for you is the only thing that matters. Be brave and stubborn enough to figure out what that is! Stop cheating and comparing notes! That's a waste of time! And time is what you can't let to waste ...
Don’t attach strings to anything you give. Give freely. And like a boomerang, life will give it back to you even faster and stronger! I promise that with all my might!
The more you let go, however painful it is, the more you have. I know, it makes no sense, but it’s true.
I never spent much time worrying if I am perfect, so I won’t start now. I know that I am unique, as is everyone else. And that suffices!
I know now that I love cats and dogs much better than most people. And that’s more than just a cliché.
I have always been grateful for the fact that I grew up in communism, and for the rare disease I was born with. The fact that I survived both and am sitting here today, 40 years later, across the world, typing my words in a device few people dreamed they would own one day, 40 years ago, makes me a believer in faith, human strength, loving people and luck. Much luck!
I still won’t spend more than $5 in Vegas, though! I believe in luck, but I am not stupid. Most days, anyway.
I’d still rather buy a book than a pair of shoes. And 17 years of consumerism in America has not changed that!
40 years taught me to say “I love you” often. I say it every day. To my husband, my cat, every time I speak to my family, every chance I get to people that have established themselves in my heart … Time is precious!
The next blink of our eyes could be too late. Again, that is not a cliché. Just think about it: you float on this blue bead of soil and water into the universe. Something sneezes up there, in the whole scheme of the world, and you’re gone! Your being, dreams, hopes, plans for tomorrow, even your most favorite chair positioned just so in front of your fireplace. Poof! Gone. Be mindful. Touch this table, in front of you, and really, really feel it … Remember: this touch, now, is all you got for sure and for real. Make no assumptions!
There are people in the world who are really, really shitty, sick f*cks! But for every one of those, there are hundreds that make this journey worth it!
There comes a day in your life when you realize the fact that your burger was cold at the steakhouse last night is ridiculous; you realize that the new shampoo you just bought that makes your scalp flake is just a gnat in your daily journey. You realize that every breath you take is more important, more sublime and supreme than every time someone broke a promise to you … And you get perspective. And you revel in the amazement of it all!
The one, truest thing I have learned though during this mammoth amount of time came from my dad. He says: “The secret to succeeding in life is to be five seconds smarter than life”. And it’s different for every one of us what that means. But if you crack that code, I tell you this much: there are no doors! Only possibilities turned into life.
PS: and you want to hear something else crazy?! I don't feel old yet! Who knew?!