3 months old today, the love of my life…

Your feet bear the promise of freedom
as I rest my lips on them.
They carry so many stories of faraway journeys,
some of them that have passed,
others that will come to pass.
What roads will they roam?
And will they bring you back to me?
We have the same birthday,
my dear time traveler,
35 years apart.
Meet me again. And again.

baby feet

Related posts:

And absolutely adorable

baby in wrap

Late autumn is the season of death. I can very well remember my previous deaths. Caring for a baby this autumn is a totally new way to die. The best one so far, I’d say. You truly have to kill whoever you used to be. The new you needs none of your former selfish endeavors. The new you has no time to waste. The new you is just happy to be of service.

I’ve read some of my former writing pieces and I wonder if I’m ever going to be that good again, if ever again I can focus on something else than diapers, breastfeeding and the lack of intimacy in what used to be a (more or less) romantic relationship. And still, as I’m writing this, I feel it’s not entirely accurate. It’s just that I’m going through changes and until the storm has settled I cannot find my new voice (too much noise to hear myself write). Old structures are falling, new ones are being erected and all this time I’m taking long good looks in the mirror.

“Look at you”, a friend says when she comes to visit, “You don’t even look like you’ve given birth! You’ve lost so much weight!”

And yes, that’s so comfortable. I put on very little weight during pregnancy and in the first few days after delivery I quickly went back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I do feel somewhat attractive, but still feel my whole body is just being used by this growing creature, losing its former glory and attractiveness. Nevertheless, it has gained tremendous force trough birth, I think. And a newly found respect for its wonderful strength and endurance.

“You’ve really got someone now, you’ll never be alone again”, she continues as we’re walking out of a shop late in the afternoon, in the noise of the crazy rush hour traffic.

Then what’s with the lump I keep feeling in my throat? What’s with the chest pain? What’s with the longing? I wonder… There must be something wrong with me. Where is my beloved? Who am I still waiting for? What/ who is still missing from my life?

It’s nothing, love, it’s just baby blues. Yes, again… You should be glad it’s not postpartum depression, my inner shrink goes off as soon as I’m quiet again.

Fuck it, I break out. I’m tired of this. Fix me already! Am I not over this already? I’m getting bored of this shit. I feel too much.

I decide to end my blog post here, but I open my pdf copy of Forty rules of love at page 300 (I decide it’s the number for October 30, my and my son’s birthday) to see what Elif has to say about it:

“The town had finally gone to sleep. It was that time
of night when even the nocturnal animals are reluctant to
disturb the reigning peace. It always made me both
immensely sad and elated to listen to a town sleep,
wondering what sorts of stories were being lived behind
closed doors, what sorts of stories I could have lived
had I chosen another path. But I hadn’t made any
choice. If anything, the path had chosen me.
I remembered a tale. A wandering dervish arrived
in a town where the natives didn’t trust strangers.
Go away!” they shouted at him. “No one knows
you here!
The dervish calmly responded, “Yes, but I know
myself, and believe me, it would have been much
worse if it were the other way round.”
As long as I knew myself, I would be all right.
Whosoever knows himself, knows the One.
The moon showered me with its warm glow. A light
rain, as delicate as a silk scarf, began to fall on the
town. I thanked God for this blessed moment and left
myself in His hands. The fragility and brevity of life
struck me once again, and I recalled another rule: Life
is a temporary loan, and this world is nothing but a
sketchy imitation of Reality. Only children would
mistake a toy for the real thing. And yet human
beings either become infatuated with the toy or
disrespectfully break it and throw it aside. In this
life stay away from all kinds of extremities, for they
will destroy your inner balance.
Sufis do not go to extremes. A Sufi always
remains mild and moderate.

As I’m bouncing on the fitness ball with him in my arms at 3 am this morning, I’m going through my memories of labor again. He’s one month old today. I take one more look at him and all my complaints fade in the face of his perfection.

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.



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

The little prince hiding behind his fists, on the coldest hot summer day

It’s a hot day in Bucharest and I’ve arrived half an hour early for my ultrasound appointment. The clinic is right on the street where I spent my university years. So I take a walk and again I feel like a young girl visiting her grandparents in the city, on a summer holiday.

deserted garden bucharest

The dust particles stirred by occasional cars linger in mid air before deciding upon a surface to rest on after their flight. I walk by the old honey shop, where this very old bee keeper, white hair, blue eyes, wearing a sturdy white apron, used to welcome his customers into a different century as they were crossing his threshold. It’s been closed for years. He’s most probably died… I’ll always feel sorry I’ve never been in. I was just thinking I cannot afford to buy anything and was feeling guilty to go in just out of pure pleasure and curiosity. Such limitations have long been overcome by now and I prefer socializing and risk taking to regret.

closed honey shop bucharest

As always, I am impressed by wild gardens and their run down, deserted houses, where parties used to be held in the old times, love made, babies born… My own baby is squirming in my womb and I can feel his weight getting heavier by the day. Gradually his presence is becoming more and more noticeable, more and more real, albeit still miraculous in my view.

garden behind gate bucharest

The cold and sterile environment in the clinic half an hour later is making me uncomfortable and I realize I must be really nervous. My tensed muscles and shallow voice are giving me away. It’s also getting harder to focus and I start feeling like taking off. The doctor pushes the baby with her fingers and then taps on my belly, stinging me with her nails, in repeated, unsuccessful attempts to get him to turn his face towards us. He’s looking away all the time and hiding his face behind his fists. I cannot blame him.

His father, whom his profile seems to take after, is looking at the screen sitting on a chair behind the doctor, paying attention to all the details and trying to get as much of a view of his son as he can. I think he’s too far away and there should be room next to the bed so he can hug my shoulders, kiss me and hold my hand. There isn’t any, although the doctor’s office is impressive in size. Big and cold.

Later on, all three of us attend “The little prince. A show for grownups” and it dawns on me this is how our baby must feel. He’s left his world behind and is now travelling on a different planet. This is how I feel, how I’ve been feeling all my life, actually. An alien trying to establish contact with the species populating this planet, its inhabitants utterly and strangely autistic and so cold that their proximity  freezes the blood in my veins. I’m a complete stranger to these people… What am I doing here? I’ve left so many lives behind, so many identities, so many worlds… Where am I heading? Who is by my side? Who have I become?

The end of a journey

‘Congratulations! Welcome to the fourth grade!” I shake this long haired boy’s hand and then bend forward and take him into my arms, having carefully placed a beautiful flower coronet on his head. “I can’t wait to meet you again, on numerous happy occasions.” I continue in a low voice, close to his ear. “I love you!” I tell him grabbing his shoulders and looking him straight in the eye.

“I love you too…” he whispers, throwing his arms around me again and squeezing me hard.

This is a child I was advised to give up on back when I took the class two years ago.

“If I were you”, the school mentor told me in a one to one discussion, “I’d take the class on condition that he leaves. You can’t handle him. I wouldn’t keep him either, and I am so much more experienced than you are.”

I disregarded the advice and took the class the way it was.  He was not the most challenging child.

My greatest accomplishment as a class teacher is not what I have managed to teach my kids in these two years we’ve spent together. Not even being able to ‘handle’ them. I have loved all of them – this is my greatest accomplishment. And I have been loved by all of them.  I have made a significant difference. In their lives and in the world. I will never be forgotten. And they will always be a part of me. They have helped shape who I am today perhaps as much as I have helped shape who they are now.

Going home in my new life, I’m looking at my reflection in the dark window as the noisy  train is rushing along cold and damp tunnels. The lavender in the flower coronet next to my three owls on a branch present in the paper bag I’m holding offers such a refreshing feeling.

“Would you like to sit?” I hear a voice and follow the line from the fingertips tapping my arm to the smiling face of this stout young woman, offering me her seat on the subway.

“Oh, thank you!” I reply smiling back. “It’s ok, I’m getting off at the next stop.”

I’ve really started showing.



Another kind of trip. A Moroccan dream

The sea has flooded the streets in Marrakesh and everyone is struggling through the lukewarm water – people, cars, trams, dark red buildings covered in intricate ornaments. 

My skin is so much darker now. And my face so much broader. My short black hair is so thick and dusty and my narrow eyes are searching in the mirror for a familiar expression, a familiar look, that strong, piercing force and the flush of passion I am so used to. 

I am a stout man in his late thirties, wearing black clothes covered in a thin, golden layer of sand. My face is square, my hands are big and my arms strong and dull. My round stomach is like a big ball that has swallowed my flexibility and grace. 

I miss myself. Marocco is beautiful, being a man is interesting, but I want my old life back. I must be a huge fan of traveling if I am now traveling through people, not only space. Still, I am done. I want to go back to being me. I like my former life. I want to be a woman again.

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


Confessions in the electricity shop

“You know, I can pay you through a bank transfer if you give me your account number.” I tell my dentist as she’s pulling her instruments out of my mouth so I can talk again. “I don’t have enough cash and I don’t have my cards anymore, but I can do that.” I add.

“No, no, it’s fine, I told you. I was actually thinking I might give you some money for food” she says and that brings tears into my eyes but I quickly swallow them thanking her for her infinite kindness. She’s a good friend, my ‘dangerous Syrian boy’ would say. I’d told her my wallet was stolen/ lost and she insisted I should still come for the appointment.

And when she’s done fixing a tooth on the upper right side (the side with the swollen eye and the upset ear from landing this Saturday and the bike crash before my birthday this autumn), we both get out and she gives me a lift and drops me close to my home. We catch up on each other’s lives on the way and I meet her husband when I get out of the car and knowing that he, too, exists is reassuring and makes me more confident about my resolutions.

I stop at a small electricity shop and I find the door is locked. I look for the schedule on the narrow glass door and, before I find it, the door opens and a beautiful lady in her mid sixties welcomes me in.

“I’m listening. What is it?” she says and I notice her heavy makeup behind her thick glasses and her beautiful mouth and her clear, shiny skin.

“I need two light bulbs. A smaller one and a bigger one” I say hesitantly, realizing I sound like a woman who doesn’t know about electrical stuff. But since I’m talking to another woman, I’m relaxed about it.

“Do you know this neighborhood?” she asks fetching a couple of light bulbs from a shelf behind her and placing them on the counter in front of me, taking them out of their boxes and trying them for me to see that they work.

“Well, a little bit, I suppose. I haven’t lived here very long.”

“How long?”

“About a year and a half I think…”

“Do you get along with them?”

“I don’t know? With who? I don’t really interact with people around here…”

“I can’t take it anymore. I have some problems” she says making me stop and suddenly evaluate my possibilities. “How long can I still go on? What do you think I should do?” she asks staring into my eyes. “These people, they expect me to have sex with the boss of the neighborhood. Would you have sex with someone whose hands look like sausages? Would you be able to? With someone with loose skin, hanging about them like this?” she asks painting the image around her with her hands. “With someone who smells of garlic or who knows what else? With a seventy-five year old? I’m sixty-three. I am clean, I take care of myself, I can’t have sex with anyone like that.” she continues. “Why do you think they torment me like this?”

“I don’t know. I’m sorry.” At this point she’s got all my attention and my heart feels warm and a part of me reaches out to her over the counter, hugging her and wiping the tears running down her powdered, wrinkled cheeks.

“I had a family. They took it from me. I want my son. I want Cristi to come. Why isn’t he coming? You tell me.”

“I’m sorry… I don’t know…”

“I had a husband. My husband had a mistress. He would go and fuck her and then come back home to me and our son. You know, home is a state, an atmosphere. He couldn’t leave us… He came home every time. I see him sitting on a chair in the kitchen, his tears falling on the tiled floor. It’s you that I love, he used to say to me. And I believed him. Still, he kept fucking her. Now he is dead. But our family was destroyed before he died. They ran into it with a bulldozer. Why would anyone do that to someone?” she pauses again for me to answer.

“I don’t know…” and my own tears start blurring my vision as she’s giving me a glimpse into a possible future and I’m emptied of myself like a bath tub of which you suddenly remove the drain stop.

“At least if someone came to me and said: Mrs Doina, I have this against you…. I don’t like this about you… That is why I am tormenting you… But nobody says anything… You have to explain to me! Tell me!” her tears prevent her from continuing here and she takes a short break.

“I am sorry… I don’t know why this is happening to you…”

“And they torment me every day. They say nasty words, they steal my things, they took my boy, they took my family, my life, everything… Tell me why… Would you do that to anyone?”

“I don’t know why… I wouldn’t do that. I hope I’ll never be able to do that to anyone.”

“What can I do? Tell me?”

“Perhaps you should pray. Ask for guidance… Try to find some inner peace…”

“I can’t. I have tried. I can’t do that anymore. It’s too difficult. I can’t even go to church. It’s too much. You know?”

“I know…”

“Is it because I have these eyes?” she asks taking off her glasses to reveal her beautiful big eyes under her heavily made up eye lids. “Is it because I have these lips? Is it? Because I see when men come into the shop, they look at my lips. Perhaps they imagine their organ between my lips, you know… Perhaps that’s what they imagine…”

Her lips are beautiful – so soft and innocent and still so feminine and elegant, nothing vulgar or withered about them. And at this point I imagine kissing them. Just because I feel so much love for this woman right now and I imagine my touch would make her fly a little, help her forget about her life and take off with me in a dream. We could both disappear. I imagine leaning over the counter between us, my lips searching for hers and at the first soft touch, we both take off like two sister rockets and shoot up through the roof of the shop, making all the light bulbs and the cables and the fuses and everything burn in short, strong explosions like fireworks all around us. And we just disappear together. A well deserved break from life.

I’m standing still, back straight, arms straight, chin raised to meet hers, my eyes holding hers. What is it about me that puts me in situations like this? I am the silent dervish again (references here and here). Holding it all together so that the other one can express the pain. I am there for her. I love her with all my heart. I don’t judge, I just listen.

“Why is this happening to me?” she insists. “Why do people do this to other people? Why? What do you think?”

Since she insists, I make my confession, too. Just because for a moment there I think she needs to know she’s not the only one in pain, she’s not the only one asking herself and the others questions about life and the meaning of things. I confess everything.

“Oh, but that’s a totally different thing”, she says without the faintest sign of compassion.

“I should pay for the light bulbs”, I add deciding to get out of there.

“It’s 3 lei. And take care of yourself.” she replies.

“Thank you” I say in the end. “I wish you all the best, a light heart and peace.” and I truly feel blessed with a precious gift as I’m walking out of the shop.

Before getting home to write her story, a poem for a friend and a thank you card marking an end and a beginning, I make another short stop in the market across the road for some cheese. Just as I step out of the cheese shop and head for the exit, I am met by Annie Lennox’s convincing voice coming from a radio in a shop:

How many sorrows
Do you try to hide
In a world of illusion
That’s covering your mind?
I’ll show you something good
Oh I’ll show you something good.
When you open your mind
You’ll discover the sign
That there’s something
You’re longing to find
The miracle of love
Will take away your pain
When the miracle of love
Comes your way again.

I have absolutely no doubt about it.

PS Coming up on the blog: the story of my week in Sweden this winter.

This newly installed cold

All the night walkers have been driven into their homes, so I discover I have the streets to myself. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t be out running tonight either had I not drunk that 35% fat cream. Yes, that was dinner. At the light of the fridge. Literally.

So to prevent myself from smashing my scale tomorrow morning because of seeing the extra two hundred grams too real to deny, I run. I run until nothing hurts except everything. And I feel pathetic and sad and what seemed not so long ago to be perfect is horrible now and I just hate my life.

I make a right turn and I almost bump into another runner. Another girl. The first one I’ve seen in this area except me in the past year, since I moved here. Makes me wonder what she had for dinner.

Reporting on the hookers: they are wearing long pants, platforms and thick, fluffy waist jackets and are so much less vocal than during summer nights. Two are smoking quietly, while a strong wind is blowing, forcing them to make sudden head turns to free their lips from the tyranny of their hair.