Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Romania: Like Coming Home

“Happiness is not a brilliant climax to years of grim struggle and anxiety. It is a long succession of little decisions simply to be happy in the moment.” ~ J. Donal Walter, a Romanian author, lecturer and composer

Home ... it's a noun, but it's also a "feeling." A place, a family, a person can feel like home.

In my case right now, I feel both at home and in a new, strange place. I am in Romania. It's been ... about 18 years since I last visited my heritage homeland. Being American, but of 100 percent Romanian descent, I've always felt a little out of place wherever I was. I mean, I was kind of an outcast in school, not so much because of my heritage, but just because I always felt different. My mom had a lot of Romanian traditions surrounding my brother and I growing up, including Romanian dancing (which I still do). And the language, while I don't speak it well, has been embedded in my eardrums my whole life. In fact, when my mom sings her Romanian songs, poems, carols, I feel like a child again inside.

So stepping foot in this country and hearing the familiar language feels awesome in some ways. And, this might sound strange to some people, but it feels really cool being completely surrounded by a populace that looks similar to me :-) The prominent noses, sharp cheekbones and jawlines, the dark hair and eyes. Besides the church my parents brought my brother and I up in (it's like a mini Romanian community), I haven't been surrounded by my native culture for a long time. So to look in every direction and be surrounded by similar features feels really awesome.

It also feels like I'm seeing life through my mother's eyes in a way ... like I'm getting in touch with her in a way I never really have.

I was 11 when I was last here and of course, then, I viewed this world through a very imaginative child's eyes. I loved the nature and the farm animals in the village. I loved the creek in my mom's village, the dirt roads, the horse and buggies, and was amazed at the (then) third-world like conditions compared to 90s America with our washer and dryers, microwaves, electric stoves, dish washers and cable TV.

Things have changed in the last 18 years and most parts of Europe in general have progressed to offer much of the same things we have, but I'm still excited to visit Vistea de Jos (my mom's village), which is now all paved ... and remember the ways of simpler living.

Driving through Bucharest, the capital of Romania, my cousin told me how Ceausescu tore down so many old, beautiful historic buildings during his communist ruling and built blocks of plain, stacked apt and business buildings that all looked identical and had small, nondescript rooms. The city has since been trying to revamp these buildings, painting them different colors, tearing some of them down, etc., but it was a real eye opener to me regarding what life must have been like back then, when my mom was here, and it makes me appreciate my own freedoms as well as the architecture and history that still exists here.

The shopping mall here is all about the latest fashions, which is definitely very "Euro-like" as I say ;-) and the women all dress well and love their scarves, perfume and jewelry. Growing up with these themes with my mom, her family members who visited and our Romanian friends, it feels very much like home. I can't wait to visit Brashov (in the mountains) and Bran and Peles castles.

And I look forward to sharing more with you as my journey through Romania continues ....



  1. I hope you are having the time of your life :)

    1. I am loving it Keith. Think you'd love the castles and the skies here. Will definitely share pics :-)

  2. I stayed with a Romanian writer when I was in northern Quebec. One evening over tea she told me her flight from Communist Romania, into Greece, and finally to Canada. It was amazing just to hear her voice tremble and stumble over the little details. So happy for your discoveries.

    1. That's awesome :-) I can only imagine her story. It's stuff you can't make up, that's for sure. And thanks, I can't wait to visit the other cities and villages we plan to.