Monday, July 18, 2011

one foot back home

Last night it stormed something serious over Bucuresti. It's been hot like you wouldn't believe--not as hot as Wilmington, but nothing but asphalt and no ocean here, and also no fan so it's been about as bad. But then the wind kicked up and the funny thing about this city when it's about to storm is that the wind starts turning everything upside down and you see just how dirty it really is. I was sitting in my room which is just above the tops of some trees, level with the tops of others and all of a sudden they start tossing around and making a bunch of noise--a) you realize that you haven't heard anything that sounded so natural, meaning not like the guys working on the side of your block or the traffic in a while, and b) man that wind is serious! So I looked out and there on the street is this cloud of dirt kicked up and spinning around and generally obscuring the cars and ground-level stores. Twenty minutes of this, twenty minutes of watching low pulled-apart clouds race above the blocs, green-tinted everything and then cold rain. Reprieve, let me tell you. And you know what else? It smells different when it rains in the city. I don't know how I hadn't noticed yet. It's not a pretty smell, not a clean smell but I stood half hanging out the window anyway, cold wind and lightning. Not a bad way to end a day.

My computer is working now. Turns out it needed to be vacuumed (my taking it apart and attempting to clean it was along the right way of thinking, just didn't do it well enough) which is mostly embarrassing but also, hey, free. Holler. And my language is working again too. Two weeks of not using it and then jumping back in made for a kind of shaky start, but it seems to have done some restructuring while I wasn't using it and it's been a good time jumping back in. This language--I say stupid stuff all the time and have a long way to go, but I think I speak it now :)

If I can follow this bunny trail for a minute or two longer, some interesting observations for the fellow language-learner: one, I keep doing this weird thing where I forget I don't speak Romanian the way I do English (meaning well--hah, okay, seriously though, I mean without effort, without lag time between brain and mouth). You get to a point where you just understand what people are saying and you're not really thinking, oh this is Romanian or this is English, you just understand it. And so when you open your mouth to respond and all of a sudden it's halting and slow-ish and the fluidity of the conversation suddenly derails, you go, oh crap! I forgot! Has this happened to you?

Anyway, to return to things working again. The computer, the language. Even camp. In terms of knowing people deeply, this place for me is still a work in progress. But you spend a week or so with Americans (who are really American, versus the Romanianized ones I hang out with here) and it comes with all sorts of realizations. One: you and they have changed. This is not a bad thing. It's not really anything, in all honesty. It's just what it is. But two, you realize that no matter this change, there is still a place of rest and reprieve in being able to speak easily, to watch Doctor Who or whatever really, to slip back into the old for a while and feel it against your skin like an old t-shirt. Maybe it doesn't fit the same way any longer, but it's still a piece of home. And it is good. I am thankful. So it was to spend a week with friends. We could have been on Mars and it wouldn't have mattered.

And here I find myself back. I almost missed the plane back to Bucuresti, the one time in history a Romanian flight left early, and running onto the bus that took us to our plane, falling back into 'aoleu...' and a little Romanian lady next to me who told me how hot it was going to be when we landed, I felt like I was going home. It was indeed hot. And the taxi drivers hounded me. People kissed each other on both cheeks and drove like maniacs.

I think there are two homes in question here. One of people, one of place. The one of people is wherever they are. If I meet my friends in Germany, it is there with them. If my best friend flies from Wilmington to here, here we are home together. And wherever in the world I'm with my brother, there it is. But then place: I realize this now, looking back on seeing that Romanian van in Germany, in flying back on a plane I wasn't sure was going to land in one piece. The chaos of it all is familiar. The heat and the stores and the parks, the look and sound of Romanians. It's a different slipping back in, one that comes with less of the comfort of people-home, but more of something tangible and constant, like a steadied arm.

And speaking of home:

1 comment:

  1. The dirt in Romania is not necessarily because the city is not cleaned... I don't know the situation in Bucharest... I know that it's a dirty city but I don't know how much they clean it.
    Anyway... the dirt is because of the soil in this region ... No matter how much will we clean the cities there will be a lot of dirt around here. Brasov is a clean city and there still is a lot of dirt.
    Probably the problem is also because there's too much green space... I don't know.