If somebody would have told me, some years ago, that I will leave from Romania I would have told him that something like this will never happen. I was so convinced that I will always live in Romania like I am convinced now that I don’t want to go back.
I remember the country garden full of chamomile, the old house and my grandfather staying on the bench, with his shaking hands and fully white hair. I still have his medals from WWII and I know all my childhood I was sad because he was not able to tell me about his days in the Siberian prison. He was standing under the black cherries tree, looking lost at something I couldn’t get. My father used to tell me that he was in prison for 5 years and when Russia invaded Romania he was released and came, walking, to his birth village. When he entered in the village people were amazed, because nobody was expecting him to be alive. I don’t know if this story is true, but I know for sure that because of this story many years I refused to visit other countries. I had so many to see in Romania and each year I was traveling in other parts, trying to know, to understand my country. And when I think about my country, I always remember him – old, white, paralyzed because of a stolen country. Now, my parents live there during the summer. I go there and I try to see him, but the cherry tree doesn’t exist anymore. Neither does he. I look over the village and the small houses are surrounded by animals and fruit trees. In each garden I see potatoes, corn, grape vine, beans and other vegetables that usually people grow. When the sun is starting to set down from each house a small smoke is trying to get to the sky – I know then that dinner is prepared, the fresh cow milk is put on the fire and polenta is made.
I didn’t spend so much time in that village during my childhood. We were 5 girls and we were split between grandparents: I used to go to my mother’s parents. I was staying there in all my school holidays, mostly during the summer for 3 months. I remember the curiosity and the smell of each summer evening: when I was getting the cow from the land, when I was standing near my grandma when she was milking, when I was with my grandpa to the sheepfold in the night to bring food to the shepherds. The village is situated on a hill and face in face with it is another hill, on which people had land and used to work it. There’s a forest too, from where we used to pick up mushrooms after a summer rain. I had a happy childhood being there, going with my grandpa to work the land, milking the cow, drinking fresh milk and eating all kind of fruits from the trees. I had a lot of cousins with whom I was going to take baths in some lakes. We had a lot of childhood joys and each time I feel the smell of burning wood I remember those days. The village for me is something so personal, a part of me, a part of what I am today. Because for me the mountains were the hills and the sea was the lake.
When I go to my grandma and I see the trees in which I used to climb, nostalgia seems to take over me. I stay at the gate and realize that even if we were poor, we were so happy – laughing all the time, not knowing what a real doll is – but knowing how is it to make one from material, not having a bike but having a horse, not having a car but having all the dogs and cats in the world. Maybe this is why in the last days I can’t stop thinking about one story of Murakami: a mother is told that her son died in a shark accident, she goes from Japan to Hawaii to recognize the body and she incinerates him. I don’t know what happened with the ashes, but I imagine her, standing on a cliff, throwing them in the ocean. And I realize that you can disappear so easy from this world, that you exist only for a few and a few exist for you. That your life ends without any notice and when it’s time, you stop, stop remembering, stop feeling.
I miss my village, but I know that I couldn’t live there. I know that I’m changed and that the happy moments were happy because I was a child. I know that the village vacations were an escape for me, from the terrifying situation from the city. Back then I was lost in a series of fairy tales and I was living like in the Romanian books for kids. Plenty changed when I’ve started to grow up, I’ve ended my summer invasion at around 12 years old, because of many things. For many years I didn’t thought about it, but this weekend I’ve been in Spaarndam. They say it’s a village, but country life it’s so different here. I don’t know what I was searching for, but I know that I hadn’t found what I was searching for. The village is nice, a lot of terraces and brick houses, there was an artistic fair and we went to a pub – which was the cheapest we’ve been in Netherlands until now. For a sunny day it was perfect and afterwards we’ve been in Zandvort to admire (again) the sunset.
But I can’t still accommodate with the idea: I am here, I am sure here for now, but I would like to have the chance to see a true village, to feel the smell of burning wood, of fresh milk, of polenta. And even if in each morning I wake up with the smile on my face and I enjoy the big sunny windows, I know that someday I will go somewhere else. Because now I don’t want to go back, but I don’t want to stay, because life’s too short and someday I will be just like the boy in Murakami’s story: I will return to ashes and I will disappear in the wind, without any notice.