Getting ready to leave Harmony Street

“Look how beautiful this is! A clear road ahead, we’re walking, the sun in shining, the air is fresh… No one pushing, nothing like the crowded morning underground ride…” I hesitantly say as we’re walking to the city center this morning.

Four more weeks before I move house. It’s hard. I live in my favorite area in Bucharest, where I’ve wanted to live ever since I first discovered these quiet narrow streets, lined with old houses, some run down, others still retaining some of their former glory in sumptuous ornaments and elegant architecture. Most of them date back to the period between the two world wars or even earlier, before the first world war. They belong to times when rich people were stiff, elegant, conservative and stylish, but also generally well educated.

I moved here at a time in my life when I was going through great changes. I had moved out of my own apartment, where I’d lived for nine years and in which I not only invested finances, but also hopes and dreams and ideas and feelings and a great part of my heart. “The bed I’m going to get pregnant into” was left behind along with painted radiator masks, chairs and so on. I have to admit I went through a gradual process of letting go that started long before I actually left the place. I cried for every object. I admit. I cried for the wooden floor in the living room as if it were a dear old friend I was leaving.

But when I left, there were no more tears for objects. I never looked back. Never felt sorry for anything anymore. Cut the cords and moved on. From time to time I would go to the fridge to pick up something I’d left in my other fridge, but that didn’t take long, either, and made me giggle eventually.

Before I found the house in Harmony street I made a list with everything I wanted from the new place I was moving into. This place met every strict requirement. I knew immediately it was going to be my new home and that I was going to love it. And that it would only be temporary. Though my initial ‘plan’ has absolutely nothing to do with what’s happening in my life now, it still prevented me from forming too close attachments to the new place.

Nevertheless, now, that I’m preparing to leave again, I’m trying to enjoy every detail, every second spent here, every walk to work and back home again, every bike ride along these beautiful streets. I’m making mental lists of things that will remind me of this place: how happy I was here, how free, so much travelling I’ve done, the open terrace, the run down attic, the cracks in the walls, the dancing during earthquakes, the trembling floor when the washing machine is on, the comfortable bed, the decorations, the marble steps, the sound of the wind blowing last autumn, the piles of virgin snow covering the tiny front yard one winter morning as I struggled to pushed the door open to go to work, the crazy guy downstairs paying me a surprise visit around lunchtime on a Sunday, the parties, the skype conversations, the nighttime jogging last summer and poetry while jogging, hooker spotting and so many other big and small details that will keep this place and this period in my heart for a long while.

I am moving on now. It’s a leap of faith, just like every important move in life. No guarantees. There were no guarantees when I moved here, either. And yet I felt that the happiest period in my life so far was starting. I was right. Sometimes I feel confident, other times I am so afraid. I keep telling myself it’s an adventure. It will take me somewhere. I don’t know where yet. But I know I’m not stuck, I am moving. This time last year I was looking forward to my second trip to Istanbul and talking to my Syrian boyfriend every night on Skype. Now it’s like I have died in the meantime and was born into a new life already. I still have some memories from the previous one, but it’s a totally different story now. I have no regrets. I have moved past the threshold. More about my new life as it unfolds.

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



Shuffling dead leaves and crushing cigarette butts with their high heels, all wrapped up in their thick black clothes, the hookers are pensive tonight. Clients are few and far between. Turning tricks is getting more and more demanding. Every other day someone offers to pay in meal vouchers instead of cash. Since winter is coming, men hardly ever shower anymore. Why stick around? Why not move to Barbados? It’s not like the country cannot do without them. No one is irreplaceable. If the situation becomes desperate, there’s always the option to import.

Checking up on the hookers every night I go running gives me comfort. Just like hearing the church bells ring every Sunday morning. Or the muezzin performing the adhan when I’m in Turkey. It gives me something I can rely on. No matter how crazy life gets, no matter what happens to me or to the world, the hookers are always there every night, opposite the church, the church bells ring every Sunday morning and the muezzin performs the adhan five times a day from the minaret. Rituals. It’s one of the first things I learnt when I started working in Waldorf education – children need rituals; they give them a feeling of safety, something they can relate to, structure.

And all this time, up there, the moon is quietly filling up again, just like it does every month. Life can get as crazy as it wants, heart can be broken, hopes crashed, dreams postponed, days filled with work, week after week can pass with light speed, wrinkles can deepen, hair can whiten, earthquakes can shake, lies can be told, illusions can be created and destroyed, love can be fallen into and out of and so on.

So, as I’m heading back home, sweaty and tired, I’m counting my rituals: the hookers opposite the church every night I go jogging, the church bells on Sunday morning, he muezzin’s call to prayer five times a day (no matter how far I am from it), the moon filling up and becoming new again. Oh, and jogging itself. But that’s more personal, it depends on me, so it doesn’t feel safe enough. More about that another time. So go on, life, bring it on. I’m good. Ready for anything.

PS Photos taken last night, as I was riding my bike on my way home.