Salutări din tărâmul primăverii eterne

La mulți ani oricui mai poposește pe aici și un an nou pe măsura viselor voastre!

Eu l-am început cu liniște și pace, în căldura casei și a familiei. Nu mi-a lipsit nimic, am simțit că această liniște dintre noi e perfectă. Și după fiecare gând mi-a venit să spun mulțumesc.

În lungul timp de când nu am mai scris aici, am scris în cap câteva articole pe care mă gândeam că le voi publica la momentul potrivit, dar între timp am ales să le dau uitării. Nu aduceau nimănui nimic bun. Și-apoi, când trec prin schimbări nu prea-mi vine să scriu pentru că n-aș ști ce – am nevoie de timp pentru așezare, ca să pricep ceva din ce mi s-a întâmplat.

Anul acesta, în premieră absolută, aceasta e lista mea de intenții/ hotărâri:

new year resolutions

Desigur, vreau și călătorii și câteva acțiuni concrete, dar nu mai vreau să-mi fac planuri prea stricte, în legătură cu care să-mi simt maxilarul și stomacul pline de tensiune. Mai am în cap și câteva cărți, din care cel puțin trei pentru copii. Am încredere că, dacă au vreun rost pe lumea asta, va veni și vremea lor. Asta vreau să-mi alimenteze fiecare acțiune: echilibrul, bucuria și încrederea în Viață. Și vreau să fiu, mai mult decât să fac.

Simt că viața îmi face acest prețios cadou: acest timp special și locul acesta binecuvântat pentru a-mi crește familia. Uitându-mă în urmă, în București eram ‘prinsă’ în atâtea povesti, implicată în atâtea direcții și sufocată de un oraș toxic. Cred că Bucureștiul este parazitat de o boală mentală colectivă. Noroc că România nu e Bucureștiul, la fel cum nici Turcia nu e Istanbul, nici Anglia Londra și aș zice că nici Belgia Bruxelles. Dar pentru noi nicio altă localitate din țară nu era o opțiune acum.

Aici e aer. Spațiu. Liniște. Timpul curge altfel în tărâmul primăverii eterne. Nimeni nu se grăbește. Nimeni nu trage de tine. Nimeni nu vrea nimic de la tine. Toată lumea zâmbește, te salută, unii te întreabă cum îți merge. Nimeni nu te învață forțat cum să îți crești copilul. Nimeni nu îți face program. Nimeni nu-și dă ochii peste cap, nimeni nu înjură, nimeni nu vorbește urât, nu auzi vecini certându-se, nimeni nu scuipă pe stradă, nimeni nu se consideră buricul pământului.

E multă verdeață chiar și acum și, deși plouă foarte des, nu calci prin bălți și nu te noroiești decât dacă mergi la pădure și ieși de pe drum. Mă uit cum cresc bunătățile în grădinuța de legume și cum înmuguresc copacii. Ascult liniștea. Ziua e foarte pașnică, abia dacă se aude din când în când câte o mașină trecând pe stradă sau vreun vecin tunzându-și grădina, iar noaptea, dacă nu plouă, nu se aude chiar absolut nimic. E atât bine.

Sigur, trăiesc în continuare momente de zbatere și de dezbatere. Pentru că așa sunt eu ca structură interioară. Nu mă opresc până nu scormonesc până în pânzele albe, pe care le deșir și cărora le despic apoi fiecare fir în multipli de patru. Ca să ajung mereu la concluzia că o minte liniștită e o minte fericită. Empiric.

Mi-am făcut pe hârtie retrospectiva anului care a trecut. Câte schimbări în ultimii ani! Nu vreau să fac public vreun bilanț pentru că nu are vreo relevanță pentru altcineva în afară de mine. Mi se pare interesant cum fiecare mare eveniment a venit cu prețul propriu: odată cu apariția sarcinii, au dispărut din viața mea niște prieteni dragi și apropiați – așa au ales ei, să își ia distanță pentru că, probabil, nu se mai potriveau în peisaj. Nașterea lui Valentin a venit și ea cu prețul renunțării la tot ce însemna stilul meu de viață de până atunci. Nu a fost simplu sau ușor, dar nici nu m-aș întoarce la ceea ce era pentru nimic în lume. Sigur, uneori, ca acum, mi-e dor de Asia (apropiată și îndepărtată), de munte, de schi, dar nu-i reproșez asta copilului meu, ci mă bucur că, atunci când va fi suficient de mare, vom călători și vom avea o grămadă de aventuri împreună. Ce dar minunat!

Mutarea din țară a venit și ea cu sentimente de izolare – de prieteni și de familie, iar ultimul an cu evenimentele lui politice a avut așa un ‘dar’ fantastic de înstrăinare și dezbinare pe care l-am resimțit din plin, din păcate… Uneori îmi e dor de simplitate și de apropiere autentică, fără niciun fel de așteptare și de discuție în contradictoriu sau judecată de vreo parte. Doar liniște, bucurie și căldura unei îmbrățișări în sânul familiei. Cu televizorul oprit, cu timpul oprit.

Asta mă străduiesc, de fapt, să fac anul acesta: să opresc timpul. Cum? Trăindu-l din plin. Respirând aici și acum. Umplând-mi ființa cu liniștea de aici, curprinzând cu privirea colinele împădurite, lăsându-mi nările invadate de mirosul de copil bun ca o pâine caldă, abandonându-mă în privirea lui topitoare, sub pupicii lui moi și umezi, sub mângâierile lui catifelate, sărutându-i tălpile și ce nu, îngropându-mi nasul în părul lui mătăsos, adăpostindu-mă în brațele calde ale tăticului lui minunat, cu care aș mai fugi în lume vieți de-a rândul, infuzând cu iubire cele mai simple gesturi (precum turnatul apei în pahar, tăiatul legumelor pentru supă sau frământatul aluatului de pâine), mângâind rotunjimea burticii și dansând în ritmul noii inimi care bate în mine.

Să aveți un an cu roade bogate și cu avânt pe drumul vostru, oriunde alegeți să vă aflați și oricum alegeți să treceți prin timp!

October is my favorite month

“Come here, stand like this, closer to the lady, yes, I want your hand here, good, lower the bouquet, smile, yes, now a little kiss, hold it, hold it, ok, now here, like this…” the ‘military’ lady at the city hall is directing everything so that she can take “just a few pictures, not many, just a few!”

As soon as we get inside the marriage room, she takes over and informs us she’s going to take photos of us whether we like it or not.

“It’s ok”, I try to stop her, “we already have our own photographer, so it’s not necessary, thank you.”

“That’s why I’m telling you it’s just a few photos, not many, and it’s gonna cost you just 100 ron, not more.”

We later laugh when we remember her, in her military style, giving us orders about how to stand, where to look, when and how long to kiss for the camera. Eventually, her photos didn’t turn out bad at all, though. But the military lady’s style is in such a sharp contrast to our dear friend’s, who’s actually a lawyer and took a day off from her office so that she could be with us and give us this wonderful gift of taking our wedding pictures in such a loving, soothing and embracing manner! And she’s a very talented photographer, indeed!

Oh, I got married, yes. It happened on a perfect Indian summer day, 17 October, in our 37th week of pregnancy. Only 7 guests (what a number!) – our parents, our godparents and the very good friend who took photos. I’ve always had a special connection to number 17… And it was one of those days when you are so happy and truly believe nothing can ever go wrong again, everybody seems friendly, you feel great and look your best standing up tall in your pink shoes matching the pink flower in your hair and the rose bouquet in your hand and basically can’t stop smiling.

He proposed in May, under a very special tree, with pink flowers grown right on its bark, in a garden where we often used take long walks. My ring has a small emerald stone, embraced by a loose silver knitting. We’ve been through so much since May and it does feel as if the relationship had to grow and ripen until autumn so that we could take the big step. I didn’t feel fearful at all, which is such a blessing after so much inner turmoil, anxiety and so much questioning.

Not bothered by other people’s expectations and projections, I am enjoying the freedom and confidence a higher level of maturity brings. Having gone through a lot of comparing and feelings of inadequacy, getting the urge to run away so many times, I feel stable now, I feel like I’m right where I’m supposed to be, where I have chosen to be, with my new partner, taking a new name that I love, living in a new house that we’re making into a home, wearing new clothes and new shoes, on a brand new day, in my brand new life. Exactly what I was dreaming of.

Nothing is what it used to be. Before the wedding day a lot of memories from my past lives visited and even haunted me for a while, making me nostalgic, sad and even regretful at times. It felt as if all the past ghosts wanted to visit and say goodbye before I stepped over the threshold and into my new life. No, the whole thing was not just a formality (as I initially thought it might come down to).

When we first stepped into the church, exactly one month and a day before the wedding, I knew that was it – we’d found the place. It was a beautiful Saturday morning, still quite warm, and we had an ultra sound appointment at the medical center next to the church, on the same street as the university I attended more than ten years before. The receptionist told us the doctor was late, so we went out and decided to visit the church. Such a pleasant, quiet and warm atmosphere! When the priest – white haired, kind, smiling and sociable, probably in his late fifties – came out and gave us a brief introduction in the history of the church (dating since the late 1700s), I was sure.

Among other fascinating pieces of information, he tells us it’s the only church where a woman has ever been allowed to preach in the orthodox church – Olga Greceanu, who also painted part of the church. It’s my church, I’m thinking, feeling happier and happier about the discovery. “When I first entered the church, more that twenty years ago, I just knew this was my church.” the priest adds, and I know for sure he’s one of my kind. Which later proves right, as he performs the wedding ceremony and then comes out of the church with us to tell us more stories and we are all amazed at so many coincidences, which make us exclaim one more time: “It’s such a small world!”

I was happy my parents were there, although I admit the thought felt a bit irritating in the beginning. Their presence, with their warm smile and affection, their hearts pounding and palms sweating, their discretion and decency, their respect, strong support and warm love – everything made me feel I am so lucky to have them as my parents, despite the more difficult childhood years and the conflicts we’ve had. It all melted away in the light of new love and newly found common ground – a magical place where I felt our hearts met.

This week, the 38th week, I’m feeling slower and I’m getting tired more easily. It’s an interesting feeling – not being able to rush. Slowing down always brings me closer to myself, helps me become more aware of my breath, the sensations in my body and my thoughts. I notice the rush around me as I’m walking in the street and I’m feeling so lucky to be in a totally different world. It’s as if I were the center of the tornado sometimes. Still and heavy, a pregnant whale floating in the vastness of the ocean casting its waves on faraway beaches. Sometimes the heaviness of the belly or the sudden baby kicks hurt, but they’re still so beautiful. Well, a whale is luckier since she doesn’t have to take toilet trips every two hours (be it night or day), like I do… I’m still feeling so beautiful, in spite of the heaviness.

On the other hand, the nesting instinct (of which I used to think was a mere marketing invention or at best a pretext for bored housewives) having taken over me, I can’t stop making preparations, although I know the best way to spend this time is simply to rest… “Maybe you can find the time to stop and enjoy the last week you’re carrying your baby inside you… It’s a miracle you have there.” a friend writes and I decide to follow her wise advice.

So… I’ve made lamps for the entire house, a felt and wool raining cloud to hang over the changing table, I modeled angel wings and houses out of clay and started planning Christmas gifts and decorations (the earliest I’ve ever started preparing for Christmas.!), I’ve sewed a felt ball and stuffed it with wool for the baby to play with, washed all his clothes, of course, ordered the closets, drawers and shelves…

And so much more. I keep thinking after I finish preparing, we can just relax, take naps, cuddle and enjoy the nest. And that after the baby comes, we can focus on him and not worry about anything else… I know it doesn’t really work like that, but that’s what I’m dreaming of.

You know, I’ve discovered that even when you are in charge of your own time and you can set your own rhythm and schedule, if you’re used to being busy, then you’ll be busy all the time, you’ll always have a long to do list you just can’t get to the bottom of because every day you add more and more tasks to it. I feel like laughing at myself for that, but still cannot help overdoing it. And walking long distances, which still feels great.

taking long walks in the third trimester of pregnancy

My birthday is coming up this Monday, so I’m evaluating the time since my last birthday and find it amazing! It’s been the year with the greatest changes ever! But this is for another blog post, coming up soon unless the baby decides to come out sooner that that. By the way, I expect birth to be the most amazing experience ever, intense and smooth and also funny (why not?) and moving and rewarding. Oh and then Christmas as a new family… I’m feeling so grateful for such precious gifts!

PS Photos of the big day (taken by our friend) are still on their way.

 

 

Third trimester update, with a brief look back at what was before

love and happiness to come

Did you know that “gift” in Swedish means married and that the same word used as a noun means poison?

My pregnant belly is growing and the nesting instinct has taken over me, so I’ve been burying myself in doing all sorts of stuff and can hardly find the time, but mostly the disposition to write. After a summer full of travels and emotional torment, the urge to settle down has come over me and I seem to be preparing my nest for the little cub on his way. As autumn was approaching and it became increasingly clear to me I cannot travel such long distances anymore, cannot climb mountains or ride my bike, I felt sad for a while and scared. What’s happening now? Am I going to be left behind? Then the desire to cuddle and nest, making plans to redecorate, putting together the birth plan, shopping for the baby, making plans for our new family – all replaced the former travel plans and plane ticket shopping. I can’t say it’s been a smooth transition.

After a very active year, full of journeys (Sweden twice, England, Amsterdam, Greece, mountains in Romania, Bulgaria) and changes (becoming pregnant, moving house, leaving my job), settling down for the autumn and the third trimester poses a bit of a challenge. Especially with that leaving feeling bugging me every time things go different than I want them to go. So I’ve had to convince myself to stay and create tasks to fill my suddenly dilated time, round and spacious like my ever growing belly. Cooking, shopping, cleaning, redecorating, planning, exercising, taking long walks, sewing etc. Reading and writing have proved a little difficult for my agitated mind… Though I’ve always loved the beginning of autumn, calming everything down and lending the eye such warm and soothing colors after the loud and sharp summer notes. There are moments when I feel I have become way too domestic and fear I’m gonna bore myself to death.

I check my body every day and every day I notice changes: my skin is brighter and more beautiful, I am losing much less hair when I brush, my belly is getting bigger and changes shape as the baby changes positions, my breasts have grown two sizes since the beginning of pregnancy and are now letting out drops of colostrum that mark tiny wet spots on my T-shirt in the morning. I haven’t become fatter though and have only put on about 8 kilos in the past 8 months, which is ideal. Still, I feel heavier and the weight of the baby pressing on my bladder makes walking fast a thing of the past. As it does to tying shoe laces or wearing high heels.

On the other hand, I must confess I fear the postpartum transformations – the bleeding, the exploded veins on my legs, stretch marks, cellulitis, my stomach looking like a deflated balloon, milk leaking out of my breasts, dark circles around the eyes from lack of sleep, messy hair, manicure and pedicure, tiredness and depression.

I miss jogging and writing poetry while jogging. Sex is still fairly good, fortunately, though slightly more complicated due to very obvious reasons that we have to accommodate, but I cannot complain. The increased level of hormones has been a bit of a challenge, nevertheless. People in the street never miss my belly and every time I cross the old town I am offered food at the local terraces. When I ride the metro I either get offered a seat right away or not at all, depending on the route and the time. I am amazed by the level of autism the use and abuse of technology has created – everyone is always checking their phone, looking ever so busy and extremely disturbed by the presence of the others.

Speaking about the presence of others, our relationship has been growing alongside my belly and will mature together with the baby we’re raising. I can’t say we’ve had the time to get to know each other too well and this lack of benchmarks on a carefully mapped and controlled territory is making me quite uncomfortable and I still have trust issues. I am a control freak deep down, it’s true. But who asked for adventure?

The latest ultrasound picture, showing my baby boy smiling, leads me to believe he is happy. I wonder what lessons he has for me, what it is that he is bringing with him from back home, what his personality is like, and what he’ll turn me/us into. He’s been modeling me/ us like clay ever since his arrival, so I don’t expect him to stop once he’s born. Quite on the contrary, actually.

I believe it must have been roughly ten years ago when I was actively trying to get pregnant and nothing happened except frustration and disappointment. To be totally honest, I was so scared it might actually happen that every month as  my period was approaching I felt so much anxiety. I couldn’t tell which perspective felt more frustrating – getting my period or not getting it. I got it every month, with the strict regularity of the sunrise, much to my partner’s desperation.

My partner back then really loved me, though. There was absolutely no doubt about that. I was on top of his priority list, I was number one. That made life easier and more comfortable, as I felt relaxed and wanted and special. He used to express his love to the best of his abilities, telling me he loved me all the time, bringing flowers and gifts, writing short poems, preparing surprises, making sure I lacked nothing. And still, we didn’t appreciate our life together. We were so critical, so sarcastic, so sloppy and we gradually grew apart and unhappy. Eventually lack of communication and lies crammed up between us, driving us apart, each with his own separate life, longing for love and authenticity. So, having spent roughly half of my life in that relationship, I left for fear I might wither and die otherwise. And leaving that life behind was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

Then my two years of freedom followed, travelling on my own (Hungary, a nomad month in Romania, then England, Sweden,  Norway, Thailand, Cambodia, Turkey) dating, making plans independent of other people’s ideas or desires. Just me and myself and my dreams. It was awesome, I confess. Though it felt lonely only too often, that feeling of freedom was something I just had to experience before committing to a new life. I am not nostalgic, I can still remember very well how my dating life went and what a nightmare it could be at times. Yep, it’s been published in The dating nightmare – and by the way, in the meantime the friend of a friend got married, the two friends I was confessing to have totally disappeared from my life, along with the Turkish physicist, the creepy Canadian (thank God for that!) and the schizophrenic stalker, while the cancer guy with the job interview communication style proposed.

Life has such funny ways! And now it’s all new. ALL of it. So I still get cold feet from time to time and wonder if I’m on the right track. Who can tell? And what does “right” mean, anyway? I’m on the track that I am on, becoming someone new. No turning back. We’ll see where it takes me. From time to time, I am shaken by little earthquakes and start questioning everything again. And still, the baby is here, I can feel him moving inside me and that is the most special thing I’ve ever felt in my life. Maybe it’s weird, but sometimes I still find it hard to believe it’s real…

I am grateful for a beautiful and easy pregnancy so far and I’m so scared more often than I like to admit… But I can honestly say this is the greatest adventure and the most special journey I’ve ever been on. And I still think it’s absolutely miraculous how life goes on, in spite of everything. No matter what you’re going through, the earth keeps moving, the sun keeps rising and setting, people are born and die and life continues through the happiest times and through the most painful dramas. Miraculously.

(More or less) related posts:

PS Took the photo at the National Museum of Literature.

“Have you ever felt the ground falling from beneath your feet?”

The thin, short haired lactation consultant asks the three of us, sitting with our hands resting on our bumps at this white, round table in a shabby chic corner tea house in the old city of Bucharest, the only customers this sunny summer morning.

And I’m suddenly back twelve years ago.

“I want us to split”, my boyfriend tells me bluntly, sitting legs apart in the small, torn armchair by the balcony door in our rented studio five bus stops away from the University square in Bucharest. “I don’t love you anymore,” he adds, stretching his long legs across the Turkish carpet in dusty shades of blue on top of the worn out linoleum covering the floor.

I’m mute for a few seconds and I feel my throat exploding and wonder if I’m ever gonna be able to utter a sound again. At the same time, I remember our love making the night before and the goodbye kisses that very morning and the “I love you” before he closed the door behind him and went to work. They all seem like faint memories from another lifetime. What’s happened in the meantime? When did I die? I have no job ’cause “you’ve just finished university, don’t get hired just yet, let’s travel this summer” and nowhere to go. I can’t breathe.

Five months later, having spent about a month apart, we are married. Too afraid of loneliness, both of us, to pass the opportunity. Nine years later we are divorced. On our ten year wedding anniversary we sign the bank papers so I’ll no longer be part of the mortgage contract on our commonly held apartment – a home so hard to leave behind. That same day also happens to be the first day of my last menstruation before I get pregnant.

The two lines on the pregnancy test, on March 8, at around 3 am leave no ground beneath my feet, nothing to hold on to,  and force big tears out of my eyes like in a manga comic. Happiness and panic, two long and slippery snakes mating in my solar plexus. Another burial awaits – the girl I used to be is struck dead by two pink lines on a white background she’s just peed on, alone in her boyfriend’s bathroom, the whole universe spinning around her. Yet never again alone, to be accurate.

Then the phone call I get when I am 15 from my first lover, announcing me he’s cheated on me and “I need to meet that girl and discuss our feelings for each other… I’m sorry. Please don’t cry.” I can’t talk. The dirty receiver is heavy in my right hand and my thighs are getting wet as I’m kneeling by the bedside cabinet of my ground floor neighbors, who keep poking their heads around the door to check up on me from time to time. We don’t have our own phone, you see. I have to go down two floors to take the call, leave my corpse on my neighbors’ bedroom floor and then carry my ghost back upstairs again.

Then it’s early morning again, last year in spring, and I’m standing in front of the bed in that scruffy hotel room in Sultanahmet in Istanbul, dimly lit through the thick and brown heavy curtains. Ten years younger than me, short and handsome, amber skin, light brown hair, thick eyebrows and long lashes, full lips covering his tobacco stained teeth, my Syrian lover seems perfect. I’ve taken a shower, put my makeup on, got dressed, packed my suitcase and I’m ready to leave. And I can’t. I can’t wake him up. I can’t open and close that bloody door behind me.

I can’t stop looking at him sleeping there, so vulnerable, his bare chest moving up and down with his soft breath, a bent knee resting over the white sheet, his toes almost reaching the wooden side of the bed. I feel my chest exploding in a thousand pieces at the sight; silently and deadly. I’m perfectly aware I’ll probably never see him again. “Don’t make it difficult”, he says, seeing my face as I pull myself together and wake him up,  whispering his name while running my hand over his face. “Take care of yourself, Dhana”, he advises, knowing I’ll never listen. “Just go…”, he adds when I go back the second time for one last kiss. Minutes later, in the car seat taking me to the airport, I say goodbye to the sea.

“How do you know?”, the Cancer boy I’ve met using a dating app asks me, his big, beautiful eyes resting on my lips, unable to look higher. Lying flat on my belly in his bed, I tell him exactly what he did on a specific day in December last year, precisely one week after our first date. “I hate lies”, I warn him. “Please forgive me, I promise I’ll never lie to you again. Can we just leave this behind us? We have so much to do together…” I know I can’t trust him about the first part, but I am perfectly aware he’s absolutely right about the last part. Still, a leftover from the innocent me dies in this scene, too.  About a month and a half later, in the same bed, a strong light warms up my womb as if a comet hit the earth and I describe the whole experience in my diary the next morning, so that five weeks later, holding the two lined test in my hand, I find the exact conception date: Valentine’s day/ night. Three weeks after that, manga tears again as I’m listening to my baby’s heart during the first ultrasound in the doctor’s office.

“Yes, I have…” I answer when the lactation consultant says it’s my turn. The other two expecting mothers have already spoken while my memories were flooding my brain like a swollen river on a sunny day in mid spring, when the snow melts all at once.

“And? What can you share with us?”

“You know, my life has changed so much and so many times… And there have been moments when I felt I couldn’t breathe, when there was absolutely nothing familiar to hold on to anymore, nothing to cling to, seemingly no one and nothing to rely on… I’ve felt driven out of my own life. I’ve died. And I’ve survived every time. The hardest thing, feeling suddenly suspended in mid air, was having enough patience to get to the bottom of the pit, having enough patience to fall all the way, to hit the ground. Then crawl and cry down there for as long as necessary and climb back up again. To a new life. I’ve survived all my deaths… Every time… All of us do.” I answer, giggling at the revelation, an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and confidence filling me up as my left elbow reaches behind over the bentwood chair back, to make room for my growing heart.

There’s a short silence as the three smiling women are all looking at me as if I’ve just said something important.

PS Attachment is the name of the monster I’m learning to tame.

PPS Took this photo in Văcărești natural park earlier this week – felt like early fall is creeping in…

sunset in vacaresti natural park

I used to despise pregnant women

I thought they were ugly, disgraceful, stupid, naive, helpless creatures, fooled by society that it’s their duty to sacrifice their bodies and their freedom to perpetuate the species. I thought men had it so much easier for them, so much more freedom and control. And I hated it. I used to roll my eyes when I passed by a pregnant woman in the street. On rare occasions I used to feel pity. But it was disgust, contempt and anger that mostly animated me around them.

The radical feminist in me denied their right to happiness and freedom of choice. Their situation had a simple and certain explanation in my head: manipulation and brainwashing by the patriarchal consumerist society. Yes, I was in my early twenties back then, in my last years of university, passionate about gender studies and still badly suffering from older wounds.

When I graduated, I got into a gender studies master and I remember I was attending a course taught by the the coordinator of the program, a well known Romanian feminist. I felt so angry at her views and stood up, in my military leather boots and my all black outfit, and powerfully voiced my own point of view on a popular culture matter, which made her exclaim:

“Girls, it seems we have a misogynistic feminist among us!”

So now, sitting among these very pregnant women, moving slowly and carefully, like whales in shallow waters, calmly petting their huge bellies, and among these breastfeeding women, their swollen breasts, dark nipples and visible veins, all smelling of milk, their babies squeaking in their arms and looking curiously at everyone around them, toddlers running all over the place, listening to talks about types of birth and breastfeeding positions and benefits, feeling my own little baby squirming and kicking in my seven month pregnant belly, I am one of those women.

my seven month pregnant belly

A freedom forever lost

“I’m right here, love. What are you doing over there? Playing? Hmm? I can feel you.” I tell my baby while caressing my belly this morning. He’s woken me up from a strange dream.

Having gone through some old clutter in a house and picked some wool flowers to keep, I was heading to work on my bike. And I stopped at this house up on a hill to visit my lover – a former university colleague I’ve never been attracted to, actually. As soon as she sees me in her garden, she comes up to me and kisses my lips. I tell her I’m going to work for an hour and a half and she says it’s too long to wait for me and she’s going to this journalistic evening event somewhere in the city. Something I wouldn’t be interested in, she adds making sure she’s got the evening for herself.

I’m feeling lonely and I know I’m no longer on the most eligible bachelorette list. Not since I’ve got my bump, anyway. But she doesn’t seem to mind the bump. Nor the absence of the father, for that matter. She’s got a five year old boy herself, being raised by her parents. I tend to be clingy at this point and want more of her. It’s like I’m trying to fill this vacancy – the life partner vacancy. And I hate that about myself. I swallow my disappointment and put on some sparkling, slightly transparent clothes, mount my bike and head to work.

As I’m waking up, I’m feeling happy it was just a dream. It’s not the first dream of its kind – my subconscious clearly projects its feelings of loneliness, anxiety, fear of the absence of the baby’s father. The kind of dream that makes me feel an acute loss. There’s a kind of freedom that’s now lost forever. Because no matter what happens to my relationship, I’ll always be a mother from now on. Can’t change that. And it involves so much attachment it often scares me stiff. On the other hand, it also involves so much love. A unique kind of love. They say you’ve never (been) loved this way before. That’s gotta be worth paying the price. You give up a kid of freedom for a whole world of love. It’s a deal!

24 weeks pregnant

On fear, bravery and waterfalls

I am the bravest person I know personally. And still, a part of me is so afraid…

That’s what I’m thinking the other night, unable to sleep.

Afraid of all the changes I am going through, in spite of wanting them so much. Afraid of what the future might bring, afraid of losing control, afraid of making mistakes, afraid of loss, afraid of heartache, afraid of my own body having a life of its own, beyond my control.

And right then and there, fighting through the burning sensation in the overstretched skin on my abdomen, rolling over on to my other side, it dawns on me. Being brave does not exclude being afraid. Of course I am afraid. Experiencing fear is part of human experience and absolutely no one is exempt from it. Being brave means you don’t let fear bring you down. It means you go on no matter what. It means you stand up for yourself. It means you confront your fears, you dive into them, find out their names, and pull through. And that is the only way ahead.

Being brave means having trust. An immutable trust in life to carry you further no matter what. On your own blessed path. Nothing, absolutely nothing can go wrong. There is no such thing as failure. And I have no doubt about it.

So yes, I am afraid. And I am brave enough to admit it. My most precious dream is coming true and I am more afraid than ever. The stakes are high, you see. And then, in the light of this new understanding, I tune in to my baby and feel his strong kicks in my belly. He is real. There can be no doubt about it. He has come to me. Shortly after my travel companion came. It all seemed long overdue for all three of us. So, like waterfalls, we pour into one another’s lives, swiping away everything else. Here we are.

A journey with the little fruitarian runner on board. Day four: The southern part of Samothrakis

Finally a sunny day, spent entirely on the southern part of the island. Started the day at Lakkoma beach, where we took our first swim in the sea. The water was a bit cold in the  morning, but nothing like the one in the mountain rock pool the day before. The little fruitarian runner loves it when I swim.

Then we drive to Profitis Ilias, the highest village in the southern part of the island, famous for their goat cooking (which we don’t try). We take a walk, visit the local church (I am surprised to find it open, since not a soul is here :P), then we have water and juice at a cafe nearby, where all the Greek I can remember is very useful.

The little fruitarian  runner gets his daily portion of fruit, everywhere I go. So here we pick sour cherries, wax cherries and apricots from the trees lining the road, some in deserted gardens, others not. Since I’ve grown my bump, people seem very tolerant with me and everyone is staring as if we were some kind of aliens. We sort of are, I guess.

We later crash on the Pahia Amos beach, a long, sandy one at the end of the road on the southern coast. It is here that we wait for the sunset and make plans for the next day.

Only at 8 pm do we realize the sun has the peculiar tendency to set in the west. Most of the times, at least on this planet. And we are in the south.

So we get in the car and drive to catch the sunset back in Profitis Ilias, up on a hill behind the church we visited earlier. It is so peaceful as herds are heading back to their homes and dogs are barking in the distance. I wonder how some people can be hiding in their homes right now, wasting their time in front of their TVs when such wonderful shows are put on by nature. Every day at about the same time, in the same place. You just can’t miss it unless you really want to.

A more quieter day, finally a hot summer day in the drier, Mediterranean climate of the south, driving along narrow roads cutting through ancient olive orchards. Such a small island with so many micro climates, so few inhabitants and even fewer tourists!  So different from the rest of Greece we have seen so far and in a completely different world than Romania. We can’t help loving it.

 

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A journey with the little fruitarian runner on board. Day one: Bucharest – Alexandroupolis

The little fruitarian runner starts his morning training just as we get into the car, finally ready to hit the road again. His soft, repeated kicks move me to tears. I am filled with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for everything in my life. I must be the happiest person on earth right now and it feels like I am melting into everything, no more borders, distances collapse and we all fuse. I seem to be the only one to notice, the rest of the world simply carries on. But that changes nothing.

The road to the Bulgarian border is short and wet, a blessing after all the heat in Bucharest. And then it takes forever to cross the bridge over the Danube, so we have a picnic in the car right in the middle of it, eating apricots and apples (fruit, of course, for the little fruitarian runner) and admiring the view from above the river. Being suspended on a high bridge over a big river, the car being shaken as if by small, consecutive earthquakes feels a little bit like being pregnant: all control systems are obsolete and each new breath and every passing second bring new experiences. Exciting!

An eternity and a half later, having been angered by the people crouched in their big cars cutting the line at the Bulgarian border, we are finally out of Romania. It’s amazing how different everything feels once you’ve crossed the border of your home country. Suddenly the pressure is off and it feels like karma is finally giving you a well deserved break. Or so it feels to me.

Crossing Bulgaria feels peaceful enough and the traffic is far from busy. Rather the roads seem underpopulated, giving the traveler space to contemplate the green fields, the fat trees and the gray clouds crammed up in the sky, rain pouring down from them in soft, transparent waves of a silk curtain, its hem ardently sweeping the road.

I will not discuss the apparent poverty of the Bulgarian villages, for they are filthy rich compared to the Cambodian villages I traveled through last year. A totally different world. Their simplicity is relaxing to the eye. So interesting how little connection I feel to this country. Not much difference compared to Romania, but still, to me it’s just a land in between, a space to be crossed, not a destination.

Having crossed the mountains through heavy rain and fog descending from the forest like the wise spirits of our deceased Indian ancestors, as we are approaching the Greek border the sun is shining and the temperature is rising. Farmers have already harvested their wheat crops and the lower, drier scenery brings back to memory Greek words and phrases for me to (ab)use in the coming week.

We come into yet another heavy shower as we are crossing the Greek border – a small, old place that appears as a surprise in the middle of nowhere. And the little fruitarian runner starts his afternoon training – a much softer version of his energetic morning training – pulling all my attention to my lower abdomen and bringing back images of colorful fish swimming peacefully around me while snorkeling in the Aegean Sea a few years ago.

Finally, we are in Greece! Back to one of our most beloved homes after a few years of absence. And yet it doesn’t feel like Greece yet. I look around searching for that unique, familiar feeling that softens the tongue as it wrapping itself around every word, sliding against the roof of the mouth with such sensuous determination. It’s still too green, too hilly and too rainy.

But as we are leaving Bulgaria farther behind, Greece gradually becomes more like her old self and l lean back, anxiously waiting for that exciting first glimpse of the sea. And finally the sun! Coming down like a blessing – a huge hand, its fingers all widely spread to reach as wide an area as possible. And there is such stillness. We barely speak a word. There is no need. A while later, old Greek music, with its coarse, serious, masculine tunes, fills the car, sweeping silence away and bringing back impressions from other lifetimes.

And then we get a little lost in a beautiful small village, taking the time to admire tiny, welcoming gardens and wondering where everybody is. Until we pass the local pub and see all the men in the village gathered there, sitting and drinking in silence, staring at the empty road. The women must be cooking dinner in their low ceiling white kitchens overlooking the back yards.

Finding our way again, we are greeted by a spectacular rainbow on the left of the road, before coming right into a storm, equipped with great lightening and all. There is no rush, so we can afford to simply be happy, our quiet company of three.

Alexandroupolis greets us a bit later, with its typically Greek narrow streets and Mediterranean modern architecture and I get my first glimpse of the sea from the harbor, which leaves me a bit unsatisfied. I get consolation by reminding myself I have a full week on an island coming up.

We check out the harbor and find a motorcycling gathering taking place. We locate the ticket office and then head to the camping. We have a ferry to catch tomorrow morning and, after the long drive today, just want to crash as soon as possible.

We put up the tent on soft, muddy ground, next to a beautiful birch tree, in spot 69, a square lined with tall pink rose bays, letting out their discreet sweet scent. Dinner is fish accompanied by butterflies, a black cat and a more rewarding view of the sea.

sea view at the alexandroupolis camping

And we finally call it a day.

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