The Arrow

There are no answers; only choices.

Archive for January, 2008

Two homes

Posted by thearrow on January 30, 2008

By now, I feel equally at home in Bucharest and in DC. This is not bragging, but rather just an observation. The interesting part is that, when I’m in Bucharest, DC disappears and the other way round. They are two parallel universes and I can only vaguely remember the distant one while I inhabit the other; I get too absorbed in the immediate reality. When I board the plane, particularly on the way back to DC, I feel like Harry Potter with his hand on a Portkey and a violent sensation of getting hooked by the stomach and pulled through a vortex. It’s still amazing to me how these two worlds can have nothing in common. Sometimes I think that I could perhaps use things I learned in DC if I have to return to Bucharest, but now I’ve started to doubt it. It’s not just that the countries/cultures are so distant from each other, but even I feel like two different persons, with two different sets of behavior! I think my surroundings make me become predominantly DC-like or Bucharest-like; yet, even if never 100% one way or another, it doesn’t feel like these two selves have ever made eye contact. I guess I’m some form of schizophrenic hybrid life :).

And maybe this is the only explanation I can conjure for the fact that so many things STILL haven’t changed in Romania (read “have not improved”) even though now Romanians travel, work, and live abroad in droves. You’d think people would want to bring some of the good things home, would try to make things better. But what if everybody feels just as schizophrenic? :-O

But to get back to feeling at home, the first couple of times when returned to DC I felt very lonely and out of place. Nothing of the kind this time (quite the contrary), which was going to be reinforced in the most unexpected, unassuming, and touching way. The next morning after I arrived the building manager knocks on my door. “I have some packages for you. I knew you were going to be gone and I kept them for you. Welcome home.”

Posted in Bucharest, heart, home, immigration | Leave a Comment »

My Parents Have Aged

Posted by thearrow on January 28, 2008

[written on Jan. 23]

Nothing struck me more than seeing them diminished. While still relatively ok, it’s harder and harder for them to deal with the daily grind. What pains me more is that I probably won’t be here when they need me and the geographical distance between us is heartbreaking.

This time I felt their unwavering support more intensely than before. Perhaps because I really need it, hopefully because don’t take it for granted any more, but also because I was so touched to see how they spared no effort in doing those little things that matter so much, like baking cakes and cooking my favorite dishes. In Romania, any little thing requires a big effort; nothing is really little. So it was like chicken soup for the soul. Not that I’ve read the book, but you get the idea.

Posted in Bucharest, my parents | 1 Comment »

Impressions from Bucharest

Posted by thearrow on January 28, 2008

[written on Jan. 23]

When I arrived, after the big snow melt, Bucharest was a city dripping with mud. Eleven hours on the road and I find myself in the middle of black snow dunes and a sea of people rushing to get home. It’s very hard, if not downright impossible, to feel positive about Bucharest during winter. The constant struggle to avoid patches of ice, puddles of mud, and to find your way through the snow and the potholes in the sidewalk is a perfect example of the kind of wear-and-tear this city inflicts on its population.

Yet, everything paled at the thought that I got to be with my family and friends and I could feel that I belonged as was loved. This is going to be my source of strength in the year to come. I do hope I’ll be able to visit again soon, but I’m not sure it will happen.

I feel disconnected from the otherwise sad Romanian realities. This gave me great patience with things I’d normally lose my temper for in no time. Such as customer service, which is terrible; and it doesn’t take living abroad to figure this one out. In previous visits, I was very relaxed at the beginning and, by day three, I would be tense and snap at people instantly if they gave me reason to roll my eyes. This time I felt endlessly patient. I like to think it’s because I realize and accept that it will take a very long time for things to change and losing my temper isn’t going to speed up the process.

These are just a few disjointed thoughts that I jotted down on paper; hope to come back with more.

P.S. – I don’t like this post’s title but I was too tired to think of something else :).

Posted in Bucharest | 3 Comments »

The gift that keeps giving

Posted by thearrow on January 7, 2008

Today I’m one step closer to touching one of my dreams: a digital SLR. It’s been a long time since I wanted one but it seemed totally out of reach. Until Sunday, when I realized that I could get it with the money from selling my piano. My parents bought me one when I was a kid and I did enjoy it very much but stopped playing when I realized I wasn’t very good at it and life was calling me in other directions (such as work). The piano waited patiently in my parents’ apartment, where I will probably never live again. Even if I do return to Romania, my home country, I know I won’t start studying the piano again. And I liked the fact that some close relatives offered to buy it for their granddaughter (whom I haven’t met); that the piano was, again, a gift given to a kid, with love. My parents live on the 13th floor in an apartment building, so it was a golden opportunity: our relatives took care of the transportation hassle, which my parents wouldn’t have been able to deal with.

The money was going to go in a bank account and bid their time there until called for some higher, albeit prosaic, duty; possibly my move to Canada or God knows what… But all of a sudden I got this idea that I could make my dream a reality and it would be such a beautiful continuation of my parents’ gift. It was meant to be spent on something I wanted and it’s rare that you get the chance of turning a gift into another. It saddened me to think that it would join the ranks of an indistinguishable amount of savings and end up as part of what is now my gray reality. It’s so uplifting to think that, on the contrary, it can be something that colors my life.

Except the cheapskate in me might decide to put it in the bank and wait. Wait until it will seem/be clear that I absolutely have to use it for something overwhelmingly important. Because I’m afraid that when I’m going to need money, I’m not going to have enough. And because my effing sense of duty might once again wipe out my flicker of folly and sparks of dream.

I’m going to bed, so that I can dream a bit longer…

Posted in color, dream, gift | 6 Comments »

The name game

Posted by thearrow on January 4, 2008

I wanted to name this blog NoBoundaries. At this point, I’m trying to get beyond many invisible boundaries and the first thing that came to mind when thinking about starting a blog was my desire to surpass them. This experience is probably going to be important on these pages, but I do hope to find other things to say, too. I am grateful that my boundaries are just financial and bureaucratic and otherwise I’m in good health and overall in an ok situation, but they seem incredibly hard to knock over. But NoBoundaries was taken, and so were Boundless and other similar words. Sigh.

Brain whirs again and I remember that I have recently decided to try to think more positively. Yeah, I actually have to remind myself of that once in a while :). Every day was doomsday for me for most of my life and, honestly, I got really tired of it. Which made me notice that “no” and “boundaries” are both two very negative words. I do believe our thoughts are more powerful than we tend to give them credit for and I do believe that if we want something really bad and work hard to get it, it will eventually happen. It happened to me more than once with life-changing things that seemed completely impossible. Of all people, I should believe this kind of stuff :). By this logic, even though two negative words might seem to cancel themselves out and become a positive, I decided they weren’t going to work anyway.

So I tried to imagine getting over these boundaries, soaring over them and leaving them far behind. Never having to worry about them anymore. I tried to imagine freedom. That’s how I came to pick “The Arrow.” There are two ways to picture one: flying and on target. Works for me. As a bonus, it’s a good representation of myself, a true Sagittarius and proud of it :).

Posted in about | 6 Comments »

So here I am

Posted by thearrow on January 1, 2008

I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for the past few months and decided to finally take the leap. I was a huge skeptic of blogs when they first came around thinking who the heck wants to read the ramblings of someone they don’t know. So I only read the blog a friend of mine started a year ago. Because loyalty is my middle name, I never paid much attention to other blogs until she went on vacation. That was a big turning point. To my surprise, I started really liking more and more blogs of people I didn’t know! Not only that, but I checked them almost every day. Before I knew it, this community of imaginary friends, if you will, was part of my life. I started thinking: if I were to have a blog, what would I write about? In two weeks I had a list of 20 topics. Maybe I do have something to say, after all 🙂 . Nothing to hold your breath for, but I could give it a try.

I did some naming exercises and saw that the best domain names were taken (d’oh!). Much to my chagrin, they were taken by squatters, who created blogs but then never did anything with them. That made me restless. And so, this being a quiet day, I tried various names again. Thankfully, another friend stood by me on the messenger through this second attempt, which helped The Arrow come into existence. Precisely 14 years after I became a vegetarian, now that I think of it. I guess I like to start things on January 1, although at this point keeping a blog doesn’t seem to me as life-altering as radically changing one’s diet.

I’ll say more about why I picked this name another time. For now, I just wanted to make sure I posted something on my blog’s first day of existence, so, without further ado, welcome to The Arrow :).

Posted in about | 5 Comments »