After my friend got out at her station, after a day of laughter and planning our trip to Paris, I suddenly became silent and the joy which filled me like some old forgotten elixir of live which would perfectly fill the content of an old French perfume vessel, all the bottled up magic , all the dreams and aspirations and all the childish joy perished in the wind of an autumn evening and no such odor of recent memories was to be sensed by my spirit again. As my eyes wondered through the magic glass at the so well known road a thought sprang up in my mind, this road that I have known since I gained consciousness was an ancient route for my brain, however did I know that it was always a refreshing one for my spirit ?
Never have I grown tired of observing the same buildings which were a constant reminder of the communist era my country went through. The same trees amongst which our ancestors fought for a language, a culture, a belief, freedom and hope. And the same old dusty road, sprinkled with reminiscences of all sorts, however the one which prevailed was the earliest one, the one in which I was walking home with my grandfather and telling him in minute detail what adventures overwhelmed me. And what dangers and joys await for me tomorrow in school, wishing profoundly not to be attacked with a math’s test whilst being only in preparatory grade. And, of course, my poor grandfather had to listen to all the oozing excitement of a seven year old girl. But even though the buildings, the trees and the road seem almost to be left intact, the people are the only ones subjected to change. Yet, paradoxically we never change, do we?
Whilst mentally feeling somewhere far away, so far even my own self would not have been able to give me an answer whereabouts ‘I’ wondered, my body was still in the minibus gazing at the typical scenery. When the vehicle suddenly stopped stupefied I thought about what I have read this morning. It was “Nausea” Sartre’s masterpiece … “ Is it I who have changed? If it isn’t I, then it’s this room, this town, this nature; I must choose.” Then I meditated on how right and wrong he was at the same time whilst remembering that “I think it’s I who changed: that’s the simplest solution” hmm he went for Occam’s Razor also the most unpleasant for us vain, o so terribly vain social beasts. But I have to admit that I am subject to these transformations and that’s that! And whilst being on the verge of embarking upon a new debate with my own self I noticed a man came in. I I was very much intrigued by him, as he seemed to have this peculiarity and mistery which tempted me to go and speak to him and ask him to tell me the story of his life. I was wrapped tightly by this veil of mist and mistery by this breath of fresh air which however still seemed to appear essentially as an antique soul of a wonderer. He was dressed with good taste, hence that seemed peculiar for my country and he had a backpack which appeared to hide a lifetime history of an extremely interesting personality and I felt drawn to him, as if some magnetic force had conquered my body soul and mind, I was entirely captivated by him. He spoke a literary Romanian language with a peculiar accent it wasn’t a gross Moldovan accent, neither it was a posh Romanian one, the one which they speak in the capital, it appeared to be something in the middle and that aspect captivated me even more. He asked the driver to explain to him whereabouts was Korolenco street and I felt that a laugh wanted to burst out of me for no rational reason at all; Korolenco was the street I was living on . However tempting it was to laugh and blame hap for its twisted ways of torturing me I refrained myself from doing so and shared with the audience of the minibus only a timid smile, no more. Afterwards I got up and got closer to the door and made sure I asked loud enough the minibus driver to stop at my station, which was now our station. The minibus stopped. Everyone went out and after making a couple of steps in the opposite direction, the peculiar man caught up with me and some woman who exited the minibus just after me and he asked if anyone knew where the local hospital for children was. The woman started to explain to him where to go. I just intervened abruptly and told him that I was going in that direction and I could show him where the hospital was. He accepted straight away my proposition with a kind smile and we discussed some minor details about the hospital and where it was situated just to make sure I knew which one was it. It was dark, certainly it did not feel like a darkness associated with a black pressuring feeling of a Chopin’s musical piece, no melodramatic exaltations involved. It was a darkness which emerged more like a cozy dark blue sky, a long and narrow street like the one you can experience only in Paris and the street lamps’ apricot light illuminating our way but keeping us still veiled in obscurity, in the eternal unknown of learned things and known places. However, I did not indulge myself with some kind of cheap illusion of walking down romantic Paris with my prince charming or that sort of typical nonsense which is usually uttered by young girls ‘in love’. Whatever love might signify to them and however they would define such a complex feelingthought* a made up word by me right now as I believe love is not only a feeling but a product of the mind as well, hence, I shall unite these words together as I also have no certainty whatsoever which one comes first, thought or feeling ?
Whilst only starting upon our journey I suddenly felt like a little girl walking alone, strolling down the streets at nights as if to keep fear out, to conquer the fear of darkness and he walked beside me. He got out his pack of cigarettes, took out a cigarette and lit it, he was smoking and my thoughts on what to say evaporated like the fumes from it’s cigarette and vanished into thin air due to my indecisiveness. For a couple of moments I was not paying much attention to him due to the cruel fact that I was desperately trying to focus on some subject which would be
appropriate to be discussed by two absolute strangers which at some supernatural level felt drawn to walk down the same narrow street and utter at least something, nothing of great value or polemic. He must have observed my tortured and absent look and invaded by this peculiar feeling that one acquires when speechless in the presence of a stranger, he probably decided to spare me and asked the most banal question ever, which I do not know of course how come did it slip my mind… He asked me how did I find the autumn evening and I, I meaning definitely not my rational part but my I don’t know which part , started to speak abundantly. Of course, the nearest topic we could have jumped to after the coming of autumn was university. I alluded to the fact that my studies will start in October and he inquired how come and I replied I was studying in the UK, then followed the logical question what was I reading and I answered with some sense of great achievement that I was privileged to read English Literature and Modern Languages. He smiled at my reply and stated in a warm and kind manner that I must be then acquainted with Shakespeare’s plays. I confirmed his assumption and said that I know the damn “Romeo and Juliet” by heart; however I made sure he knew I preferred “Hamlet” and did not think exceedingly much of “Measure for Measure”. He laughed and accepted my preferences as if they were his own. Then after gaining more courage I confessed that his accent confussed me and I asked him if he was from Romania. He smiled as if in a reassuring way and confirmed that indeed he wasn’t from here however he wasn’t from Romania either, he was from somewhere in the middle, I had the same timid smile but which in a split second metamorphosed into a conceited one. I complemented him on his Romanian and he added instantly that one speaks Romanian as one pleases and he chose to do so and also mentioned in a rather laconic way that he must because of his job. I was intrigued to find out more about his life, however my mobile phone rang, and of course it was my mom, who always calls me at the most inappropriate and worst moments of all. I answered really fast and told her straight away that I was close to our house and of course she had to ask some superfluous details about some presents for my cousins and I thought I was talking with the speed of light as the road ahead now seemed so short and too narrow. I ended skillfully the conversation. He slowly moved nearer to me due to the fast cars approaching and the narrow street which during two decades never did it seem that narrow and sweetly suffocating me as it did during that autumn evening. I was infected by this recurrent desire of putting my arms around his neck and remaining like that forever, as an ephemeral marble statue which would dissipate in the wind’s presence and at the same time I simply could not find any rational explanation to the sharp flow of emotions cascading upon my frail soul. Straight away he resumed the conversation, seeming keen to continue it no matter what course it would follow and then I asked him insistently what did he work as and he answered again in a sort of modest and laconic way that he was an actor and a drama teacher. That stroke me as an interesting fact which of course came as a surprise, as I was certain actors do not present symptoms of shyness. However he did seem to be a good psychologist and certainly a man who belonged to the world of arts, a riddle, a mystery to be unveiled. Which needs no unveiling as it would lose its charms upon the human specie.
Here it was, the crucial point where we had to turn on a dark alley where nothing could be seen and I felt a shiver crossing my whole body and the absolute dark triggered in my mind a series of horrid images, which one is bound to experience and I thought hmmm what if he turned out to be some criminal who actually knew the most obscure and not habited places. A state of tension was prevailing over the previous cheerful and warm conversation, he also did not feel at ease and we both knew why, as the same ideas have been projected on the canvas of our absent minds. In those moments I felt anguish, yet after a minute of consideration I resumed the conversation and the anguish returned even stronger whilst going downhill to embrace the absolute darkness of an abandoned piece of sleeping land. Nervously he started playing with his lighter switching it on and off and on and off again, then he resumed the conversation and asked me how was England. The first thing which departed from my lips was a speech I did not rationally prepare beforehand and did not even give it a though as one should before uttering something utterly silly. I told him the atmosphere in England is nicer, the people are extremely different in manner and most important in thought, and that they are not as judgmental as our society is. He turned his head towards me, he got closer and the road was wide now. His smile suggested that he was pleasantly surprised and absolutely agreed with me, the way he spoke seemed to suggest that we thought alike and we were alike in thought. Now, animated he told me a joke about Moldovan people on the same theme we have previously discussed. Whilst he was in the process of telling me the anecdote in a somewhat ecstatic manner I was trying to slow down in order to prolong the time spent together. He seemed to have forgotten that we were approaching the gates of the hospital already. He finished his joke and I observed that he turned his head round and gazed at me as if waiting to see my reaction, I found the joke funny, a perfect pun on the typical self preoccupied Moldovan people who care more about their reputation rather than about the qualities which really matter and are unfortunately for them not made of matter, but linked with the spirit and reified by the mind which steals substance from the soul sometimes. He did not stop walking; he continued and expected me to do the same. Yet, I had to stop and return on my initial preplanned path- return home. I went as further as I could but suddenly in an abrupt manner I stopped and told him I cannot go in with him. He then realized our journey came to an end and enthusiastically with a kind of lost expression he regained speech and said goodbye adding at the end, with a gleaming hope in his eyes, that we shall see each other around. I said goodbye and went off. I did not turn to look back.
On my way back home I rewound all that has happened and wanted to burst again into laughter, the same laughter I felt the urge to exteriorize before, I felt hopeless in front of hap, fate was teasing me, or maybe it was actually being kind to me… Today I do not know what it meant, tomorrow I might or might not know, but some day I shall know
the meaning of this universal scheming, or forget about it all, yet for the moment I shall learn my lesson…whatever that lesson is !