Holidays are hard on me.
Especially Christmas and Easter.
I feel a sense of longing during this time that I find hard to articulate. Part of it is the feeling I have of belonging to two worlds: here and there, back home. The nomad in me feels so restless at times and gets the urge to pack the family up and try living in a new place. Or spend the summer basking in the sun and living a minimal life on a beach somewhere or in the village of Moeciu deep in Transilvania.
I miss the smell of foreign airports. The smell of duty free shops, of expensive French perfume and rich coffee, the prelude to an exciting trip home, or an exciting new endeavor. Sitting at Heathrow or Frankfurt airport, basking in the sounds of foreign languages and people-watching, trying to guess the origin of passers-by.
I long for home, I long for the busy sounds of the boulevard early in the morning at my apartment, the smell of fresh Turkish coffee and fresh bakeries my mom buys every morning.
I long for bakeries, the image of the now-gone Cofetaria Bucuresti with its famous profiterol always so vivid in my mind. I even long for the fighting neighbors, the loud and obnoxious gypsy music and the church bells on Sunday morning.
I miss the smell of my aunt’s home and her cooking, sitting at her oval table in the Chinese room with my uncle telling endless travel stories and filling up glasses with visinata or Johnny Walker.
I miss the shops downtown Bucharest, the busy cobble stone streets in the “old town”, the busy coffee shops with its oblivious and loud patrons, the sight of Intercontinental. I miss the Romanian traditional restaurants with their violin players and the sound of old traditional songs and romantze, accompanied by the occasional cigarette.
I miss the sight of Bucharest University, the smell of the old building that brings back memories of endless examinations. I miss the smell of the library and the silence, the image of students with their heads buried in the books.
I miss the Easter celebration, and the sight from the balcony of my appartment of hundreds of lit candles at midnight, the sound of “Cristos a inviat” and the smell of sarmale, friptura and cozonac.
I miss the carols at Christmas time.
I miss the early days of my childhood, and my grandma’s stories from her times past, with her Moldavian sub-dialect, our own personal colloquial Creanga. The way she was reading our future in the cards, the whispering of some sort of magic onto the cards. I miss believing in what she told us our future will be like.
I miss the long nights spent chatting till the wee hours of the morning with my sister, almost always-allright, who am I kidding–always revolving around boys. I miss the late nights out in the restaurants, the radio chatter in the taxis, the Serbian restaurant where we end up invariably on my last night home.
My cynical Romanian friends would be quick to point out to my idealized view of Romania, and its harsh reality. I am aware of it all. But I miss Romania and in times of hardship or longing, it keeps coming back with its vivid memories.
A mish-mash of memories. A mish-mash of my own proustian madeleines.