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!

Run, Forrest, run!

baby

A teenage boy wearing thick glasses, no jacket over a thin white blouse and flip flops over his grey socks is feeding bread from a plastic bag to the seagulls on the river bank. He tears big pieces of the soft loaf and throws them in the air, pausing from time to time to take hungry bites himself.  When both the boy and the birds finish their lunch together, he folds the plastic bag and hides it in his fist before shoving it in his trousers pocket and crossing the street, disappearing among the old houses on the other side of the road. My baby is sound asleep against my chest, tucked in the elastic wrap and I can feel his warm breath against my skin. I stop in my walk to watch the scene. I know it’s one of those moments that are going to turn into lasting memories and stick with me for a long while.

Just like my midwife’s coffee scented breath in the wee hours of the morning as she’s blowing softly on my face during labor, while I’m feeling my baby’s head with my fingertips before he finally comes out later.

Or his heart pounding like a racing horse’s under that pink flowered tree in the park, as he pulled me closer and closer, giving me long kisses before allowing a short distance between our mouths and resting his eyes on my lips while uttering the question he’d been rehearsing so many times. It was a cool evening after a rainy day this spring and I felt like peeing.

Or seeing that second line on the pink test at 4 am on March 8, sitting on the toilet in his bathroom and trying to live through the next day as if everything hadn’t completely changed forever.

Or his warmth when I cuddled in his arms on our first night together and my chest exploding from the incredible heat as he so full of himself assured me: “Relax, I am here for you.” Back in Harmony street, early December…

Or sitting in my seat on the bus taking me from Konya to Cappadochia, my dark red fingernails matching the fresh bruises on my face, and the whiteness of the skin on my neck reflected in the clean window. November 1, last year.

Or landing in Cambodia in such perfect darkness that night in February last year, my 85 year old Swiss friend sitting beside me, a long saliva string with sparkling beads hanging from the corner of his mouth all the way down to his shirt, while I’m struggling with such a strong combination of anxiousness, curiosity and fear.

Or that rainy evening in March last year, landing in Istanbul to meet a beloved friend on her birthday after a delayed flight. Looking for flowers and cake in the airport and ending up with a huge lolly pop in my hand as I’m walking up to her in that impressive crowd in the Ataturk airport to surprise her from behind. Her smile and her tight hug bringing back old feelings of guilt.

Or coming out of the shower, wrapped up in that white towel, water still dripping from my hair down my bare shoulders, and seeing that silver mist fill up that shabby candle lit hotel room in Istanbul where I stayed for a whole week a month later. “My happy time”, as my Syrian friend called it. “You’re happy, Dana”, he explained, “that’s why you see this fog in the room. It’s called happiness.”

Or crossing that bridge lined with flower pots somewhere in Cluj in the summer of 2015, construction noise filling up the area and dust sticking to the skin on my feet, my sandals getting sweaty on the hot asphalt.

Or a particular evening in August two years ago while carrying stuff on my bike from my former home when I moved in Harmony street and I heard this little girl say: “Look, mom, the lady is going on holiday!” and I felt she was making such an accurate description of my situation in spite of the distance between us.

Or that morning back in my former home, probably in the spring of 2015, folding laundry and sprinkling it with warm, fresh tears on the stretched out couch in the living room where I’d just spent my first night alone, out of the bedroom. “This is so damn hard”, I told him, “Help me”. “Do you want me to help you stay or help you leave?” he asked picking up a T-shirt, tears rolling from his eyes down his cheeks and crossing paths on his chin, making it shiver uncontrollably.

Or that narrow road in Crete about ten years ago, after dinner in that beach tavern where those Greeks suddenly spoke no English at all when they brought us our overcharged bill. The day was losing strength as night was closing in, and so was I losing respect for the man driving next to me.

Or that creepy studio I lived in for a few months when I finished university, with its dirty armchair by the balcony door, where he sat, legs spread, arms resting in his lap, lowered chin and faint voice. That “I don’t love you anymore” that threw me out of my own life like a dog kicked out of a yard when its people are tired of it.

Or that “I love you!” spoken to me as if it were a huge and painful problem, sitting at the desk in my room back in my home town, while I was still in high school. I didn’t know how to answer that, so I closed my eyes and hugged him and just copied a detached attitude I’d seen was successful and repeated what someone else had said to me not long before: “What am I going to do with you?”

And so many others, like a big box with a wide selection of pralines – different sizes, shapes and flavors. I wonder if Forrest Gump had a similar perception when he remembered “My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

PS Yeah, that’s me in the photo.

35th birthday journey of initiation: the story of my home birth

“Cristi, please get me a towel.” I whisper, petting his shoulder.

It’s about 1.30 am and I’ve just come to bed after a busy day, finishing most of the tasks I’ve set for myself on my long, pre-birth to do list.

“Err… a towel, yes… a towel…”, he answers, falling back asleep.

“Will, you please get me a towel?” I insist, still managing to keep my voice low.

“Ihim…”, he answers falling back asleep once more.

“If you don’t get up to get me a towel NOW, we’ll soon both be in a big puddle”,  I explain.

“Yes… Where from?” he asks eventually getting up and standing beside the bed.

“From the towel drawer”, I answer realizing he’s still half sleeping. “The second one from the top.”

“Here you are”, he says as he hands me two towels, still folded.

I take them and shove them under me, carefully lifting my hips from the warm puddle I’ve made under me. I can still feel the soft, warm liquid streaming out, warming up my thighs and my lower back. So… this is how it feels, I say to myself. I’ve always wondered what it feels like and was a bit worried it might happen while I’m on the street or riding the metro. And I was secretly hoping it might be just a small stream only I would be aware of, that could pass by unnoticed util I get home.

“Are you ok?” he asks, still sleepy.

“I think so”, I reply and notice the excitement in my voice as I giggle.

“Come closer to me, so that you don’t sleep on the wet spot”, he says and I know he still hasn’t realized what’s happened.

“I don’t think I can sleep now… I mean… I don’t remember how long it lasts now before the contractions start, but I don’t think it’s so long and I doubt I can sleep…” I explain avoiding to break it to him that my water’s just broken.

It’s only then that the reality of the situation dawns on him and he suddenly feels so unprepared. I can feel he’s awake and alert now, going over what he still hasn’t found the time to do: reread the Lamaze course support, install a contraction timer app, put batteries in that flash light and I don’t even want to know what else…

Contractions start shortly and they’re still bearable, so I can afford to laugh in between them, remembering his initial reaction and confusion at the news. I soon find it annoying when he turns on the light and starts doing research on his phone. But his big eyes looking at me in awe have a calming effect and I advise him to relax and just be there for me, supportive and affectionate – that’s all I need.

I feel we’ve had all year to prepare and here we are, caught it seems a bit off guard. I was really hoping the baby might wait another week or at least a couple of days more, despite all the signs I had announcing birth, just to give me time to feel more prepared. And was also thinking it might be kind of cool to give birth on my birthday. I was actually thinking this might be the trip I’d take this year: a real journey of initiation – birth.

I get into the warm bath and water has such a calming effect. I ask him to sit by me and just stop thinking about what to do. When I get out, contractions become stronger and I decide it’s time to call for help. We do that and help is on its way, in a different team than initially planned, but we would learn that only later.

My initial thought as labor begins, that it would be short and intense, gradually proves to be half right – it’s long and intense. And as it progresses, many worries and thoughts come and pay brief visits – everything that’s ever bothered me in our relationship, a tendency to rationalize everything, as well as feelings and thoughts I pick up from my helpers. There’s a lack of cohesion in the team and we don’t seem to be on the same page. We do have the same purpose – the safe delivery of my baby, but we seem to have different visions as to how this can come about. Yet I will only become aware of this later, when I look at the experience in hindsight, trying to put things together and make sense of everything that’s happened.

There’s just the fear of pain briefly visiting me as expulsion begins, otherwise anxiety and fear are just passers by in the room, invited by some of my helpers. I try to close the door on them and focus on what I have to do, but I was educated to be a good host, to welcome guests and attend to their well being, so turning my back on them proves to be a bit of a challenge.

“We are one, I am one with it”, I’m thinking and feeling as each contraction takes over my body, leaving me more and more exhausted and teaching me about releasing control. Despite the excruciating pain and occasional feelings of helplessness, I have never felt stronger in my life. It’s true what they say: you do get such a wonderful feeling of empowerment, a feeling that if you can do this there’s nothing in the world that you cannot do. You can do anything.

Nevertheless, as I’m going through contraction after contraction, I am also visited by the thought that you must be crazy to ever what to go through this again. “Three kids?! Jesus Christ! If we adopt the other two, maybe…” I remember saying to myself, sitting on my knees on the bedroom floor, feeling cold and warm at the same time, sweat running all over me as if I’ve just showered, getting ready to survive through one more contraction.

“But you wouldn’t do it again”, my mother tells me in her most self assured voice when I call her on her birthday, just four days later, and she decides to start a conversation about her own fears. What is it that makes dropping their fear bundle over you so irresistible to people? I wonder… Can’t they just mind (or heart) their own fears themselves?

“Yes, I would, actually”, I quickly reply, surprised by my own determination.

“Really?!” she says. “And you wouldn’t change anything?” she insists.

“Well, yes, I think I would. I would still give birth at home, but I would change a bit the organisation, the plan, and alter the team membership, I think.

“Of course. You wouldn’t want Cristi there again”, she replies as if throwing a poisoned arrow at me. Poisoned by her own bitter life experience.

“What do you mean, mom? Of course I would want him there. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel that having this experience together has brought us much closer that anything else could have. It has changed each of us profoundly and has taken our relationship to a whole new level. I know your opinion on men being present at birth, but it’s YOUR opinion, not mine”, I explain and I know I have shocked her again, forcing her to look at life from a perspective totally outside her experience.

Now, a week later, everything is changed. Every day brings changes and is so different that anything I’ve ever lived before. I’ve never been so in love. Nor have I been so amazed before. And although I’ve spent almost the whole year carrying this baby inside me, witnessing all the changes and every day of his growth, I still find it miraculous that I can now hold him in my arms. All we did was love each other – me and his father. And we got this amazing gift that’s beyond anything we could have ever hoped for.

baby

I love it that he takes so much after his father and looks like a little dwarf and he smiles so much. I am reflecting on impermanence and the changing nature of things and I am contemplating the fact that he’ll never be this young again and he’ll never be inside my womb again and he’ll continue to grow and all this attachment, after all the build up, will have to gradually diminish and it already feels difficult.

I’m also reflecting back on the whole birth experience and, trying to understand why expulsion was so long and difficult for me, I remember I was pushing and was not actually visualizing pushing the baby out. It was as if there was a barrier I was setting up, a stop sign. I could easily and relatively quickly get to the pushing stage, but not through the pushing stage. How can I push out someone I never want to be away from? On the other hand, how can I open myself so much? How can I become so vulnerable? How can I give in so much? How can I put myself so much in the hands of my caretakers?

So, right at the end, as the baby’s head starts coming out, everybody in the birth team comes together in a mutual effort to safely deliver this baby right here and now. And I feel no one is thinking about going to the hospital anymore and we are beyond the question of using or not using the birth pool or of what other homeopathic remedy to take, beyond the choice of mantras, essential oils or energy work techniques. Everyone is contributing to the miracle of bringing this new person into this world and there’s such strong support from above. Here and now. And this time is so precious, when everything else just vanishes and we’re all here and now, united in the same effort. When I finally hold my baby and feel his warm, wet skin against mine, after about 14 hours of labor and a sleepless night, I know it was all worth it and all the pain and the exhaustion quickly vanish, replaced by pure bliss.

Now we float above the world in this hot air balloon, the three of us, as if on an early morning on a journey in Cappadocia – the land of beautiful horses. This is how my baby’s heart sounded throughout labor – like the hooves of a beautiful young horse running up a hill, over a fresh green pasture on a wet morning. What else could make me happier on my birthday?

Here are the posts about my birthday trip last year:

 

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

A journey with the little fruitarian runner on board. Day two: Alexandroupolis – Samothrakis

The next day I am woken by the stiffness in my back and the rain tapping on the tent. The little fruitarian runner performs a soft but lengthy training and then seems to go back to his usual meditative state.

When we build up the courage to get out of the tent, we are greeted by a beautiful rainbow rising above the sea and the rain stops just in time for us to get our stuff back in the car, have a small breakfast standing next to the car and head for the harbor to catch our ferry. Not before we study the orange flowers of a small tree whose buds look like fruit. When they reach maturity, their shell cracks and the flower explodes in the outer world. I declare it a unique phenomenon: having fruit before the flower. My travel companion says they’re just buds.

The two and a half hour ferry ride is far from spectacular, except for the sight of a beautiful dolphin springing seemingly from under the ferry and swimming away. The cool breeze is relaxing and the clouds tucked into one another like sheep in a sleeping herd are a spectacular view accompanied by the intense ultramarine blue of the sea underneath.

We spend almost the entire trip outside on the deck, determined to resist the cold wind and spot dolphins and countless shades of blue both above and below. Up on the deck we seem to be in a state of limbo, suspended between two worlds, traveling from the continent to the island.

When the arrival time approaches, we move to the left side of the boat and finally see the island: a high mountain in the middle of the sea. A thick blanket of clouds is covering the shy peak, hiding it from that shameless touristic gaze cast by so many pairs of eyes on the ferry.

samothrakis harbour from the ferry

Our host, a dark skinned, thin Spanish lady in her forties, Carlota, has written to me on WhatsApp and is now waiting for us “by the big green container on the right of the harbor”.

“I came here nine years ago with Erasmus, fell in love with the island and never left. It’s a very powerful place”, she confesses and, noticing the blue scarab locket on her necklace and remembering her meditating clay frog picture on WhatsApp, it all makes sense. We are of the same kind.

We then follow her car to her husband’s family’s place and I immediately fall in love with the beautiful stone paved garden, with its two small tables, trees packed with ripe fruit and the huge geraniums and begonias in bloom everywhere. We get inside and she offers a studio with a kitchenette instead of the small room I booked online.

“I can give you something bigger for the same price. Since we are free, why not. Here, this one has a balcony and this one doesn’t. Choose the one that you like.”

We make the choice,  but change our minds after she leaves and eventually move into the room with a balcony – it’s prettier and more luminous. The house has a kitchen and it looks like an old family house turned into a small motel. The owners, her parents-in-law, still live upstairs.

After she leaves, they arrive home and park their utility van next to our car. Her mother-in-law starts calling her name, so I take the opportunity to get out on the balcony and practice my Greek, since I have been warned by Carlota that she speaks no English at all. I say hello and explain that her daughter-in-law is not there. I am rewarded with delicious,  freshly picked apricots and a big smile.

We later get out of the house, in between heavy showers, in search of the bakery. We find it much later and it is closed, like pretty much everything else around here, actually.

“It’s still low season”, Carlota warned us as soon as we stepped foot on the island.

Since we come across no open shops, we pick fruit from the trees lining the road, so by the time we get back to the house, still without a map or food, our stomachs are full of apricots and sour cherries. The little fruitarian runner is satisfied.

“What shall we do next?”

“I know, let’s take a nap!”

And, with the soothing sound of the heavy rain hitting the leaves in the garden, one third of us does just that while another third is meditating and the third third fixes the blog and starts posting.

At sunset the rain decides to give us a break and sheep are grazing peacefully in the neighboring garden and I realize for the first time we have a view of the sea from the balcony. It is not so obvious, since the eyes are tempted to stop at the trees separating the two gardens in front. The water is now shining under the setting sun and cannot escape my vigilance.

At sunset we get out and see how islandy it looks from the harbor. We eventually find some shops open and get what we need. The shopkeepers are bored and still have not activated their tourist-attracting mode.

We have dinner on the balcony – salad and cheese and make plans for the next day. It’s been a weird, rainy day. Perhaps sensing my uneasiness, the little fruitarian runner is very discreet with his evening training.

 

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

For more photos from this journey, follow “A lover of the road” on Instagram and Facebook.

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.

For more photos from this journey, follow “A lover of the road” on Instagram and Facebook.

No parachute

Having left Harmony street, I now live in Gardners’ street. So I grow stuff. Looking back now, it does feel like I have started a whole new life altogether, not merely changed the one I used to have. It has not been exactly a walk in the park. But it’s been totally worth it. Two years ago I finally put into practice a decision that changed everything. I feel so grateful for the power that was lent to me so that I could go through with all of it. A leap of faith, a jump into the unknown, no guarantees, nothing and no one to cling to except faith. Faith like a thread of light pulling me forward to a future that was only dreamed of. Knowing it is possible to make your dreams come true is the only thing we actually need to rely on the moment we make that scary jump. The rest is details. And balls.

Poetry while still not jogging (yet?)

It’s been a long winter

The hookers have come out of hybernation and are now in full hunting season to make up for lost body weight

A traveller is making plans to settle down

To and fro

To and fro

Conquering fear and learning to grow

Life changing at a speed of 1000 km /second

Dizziness and queasiness befriending uneasiness

Freedom recalculated, renegotiated, regurgitated

Definitions reinvented

Breath shortened and deepened not effortlessly

Happiness exists

I swear I held it in my hands one night and put it in my bedside cabinet drawer for keepsake

It’s pink

Ever since

It keeps coming back to me every five seconds or so

 

Fear and loathing on a white coach

“What are you doing? Are you socializing?” the guide, a dull guy in his mid twenties, asks with a wide smile that makes his eyes almost invisible.

“Yes, we are.” we both reply almost at the same time, cringing away from his unpleasant presence.

And these loud people are making jokes and taking photos and filming videos and posting them on Facebook, tagging and commenting and checking in. And there’s something vulgar about them, a lack of real connection between them, a distance and a way of living that’s like floating on the surface of life like patches of oil on the surface of a deep, blue water, filled with numerous colorful fish and other creatures they never get to touch. Their homes are in shallow waters, the current sometimes makes them drift away and fear brings them back most of the time.

This is not where I belong, I think to myself and I panic again, taken over by the same fear that’s been tormenting me for about two months already. I am taken over by this powerful ocean wave and I cannot resist its might. I do what I can to push my head above the water from time to time and take short, lifesaving breaths. This is too difficult. A part of me is thinking of running away again. And my chest hurts. And I want to be made to stay. I want to be held tightly, so tightly that my ribs threaten to crack, shattering all traces of fear. I really want to be made to stay.

The sleepy coach taking turns, staggering and cutting through the grey evening like a long white pill being swallowed is making me dizzy, but I cannot be sure if my nausea is caused by my own panic or by the nature of the coach trip. I feel my fate being carried by this white coach filled with loud strangers with whom I have only fear in common. The blue bus is calling us, Morrison’s sweet voice sounds in my head, soothing some of the pain and making the unsoothable part even worse.

You know, Sylvia Plath, that depressed writer I did my BA paper on, wrote a book called Johnny Panic and the bible of dreams. I remembered her talking about panic and the way it rules the world, so I looked for the precise quote. Here it is:

“Maybe a mouse gets to thinking pretty early on how the whole world is run by these enormous feet. Well, from where I sit, I figure the world is run by one thing and this one thing only. Panic with a dog-face, devil-face, hag-face, whore-face, panic in capital letters with no face at all—it’s the same Johnny Panic, awake or asleep.”

And I take it she’s right. All these people so afraid of leading meaningless lives that they strive to keep up the appearance of a personal life, of having friends, the fear I see so close to me – that of losing your freedom, of not getting enough, of settling down for less that your highest possible reachable potential, that of losing control, that of leading an unhappy, mediocre life. And my own fears…

Well, Sylvia ended up head in the oven, gas turned on, kitchen door sealed with duct tape, children asleep in the other room. She did also say, in the same book, “Wear your heart on your skin in this life.” That is what I have been trying to do, this is one of my goals. It’s crazy, I know. And I don’t know if it’s a good idea to follow Sylvia’s advice, either. You know, considering…

On the other hand, who is really afraid? Which part of me feels fear? Only the ego can ever be hurt (or create the convincing impression of being hurt). The heart knows no fear. And the opposite of fear is not courage. It’s love. I finally remember the only way out of the pit is changing the focus of my attention. Maybe this is why my eyes see everything bathed in this strong light. Life is trying to remind me to look at the bright side, to focus on the positive, on the light. And what’s the worst thing that can happen? And if that happens, so what? Throughout the entire history, personal and global, the world has never really ended. The journey never ends. Every step opens new possibilities. And I am excited to explore them.

“A wise person knows that fears are always your road companions through the desert of life. But you never let go of the harness of your camel. You are in charge.” a dear friend reminds me.