Rainy day trips

Every time I visit my friend, it rains.

or snows.

Luckily it was the former again this visit which didn't stop us from enjoying the day together.

it's nice to get away if only for a day.


On shadows and squinting

At 3 am each morning I wake up to see a white pole in the corner of my room.

Sounds simple enough only it’s not, because there is no pole in any corner of the room.

It’s a shadow brought on by a bit of moonlight play and a bad sleeping angle.

Every morning I wake up and see this pole

And every time, I see it like it is the first time

too early to rationalize with my mind that in two hours the pole will be gone.
So I try to guess what the pole is used for.
Heating? Cooling?

I’m staying in grandpa’s old room, which is a new, odd, thing because in my memories this room belonged to a house which kept itself off limits to everyone. And now I’m sleeping in it.

Dark curtains and thick smoke made it looks smaller than it was, with strikingly bright blue painted walls that only revealed themselves when the curtains were drawn back. And that wasn’t often.

Now it is the happiest shade of orange imaginable. And by 630am when the sun starts to rise into the gold curtains of my room the place glows bright and vivid like a tangerine, much to my tired dismay.

It looks nothing like I remember, but it can
if I try hard enough
to picture the curtains blood velvet crimson instead of gold
contrasted against the bright blue walls, weathered with smoke.

And If I squint enough I can almost picture him retreating to his home close to the end of evening before the lights would go out. Drawing the curtains tighter than they were

 and I wonder

as I lay here unable to sleep

if ever, in the middle of the night, he, too awoke to see what he thought was a white pole in the corner of his room.


On language and accents

  “ Do you know what a foreign accent is? It’s a sign of bravery. ”                                                                                             Amy Chua 

When I was younger I owned the words.

Baba came to Canada for a short stay and like any child does, I absorbed her language like a sponge. When I returned to Europe the following months my absorbing paid off as I was an incredibly fluent 3 years old

people like to remind me.

Outspoken and talkative with a fluent accent.

Then I continued growing up

trying to fit in which meant trying to wriggle out of my dual citizenship heritage  hoping to replace it with a singular one, English.

And after time the words were no longer mine.

Summers later when I'd return I stayed quiet for a long time. 

Because my Czech voice was rusty and I just never found time to oil it.

I would look on silently

like being separated by a glass wall hearing, understanding, and smiling

Wanting to respond but unable to.

And when I tried, using all the language knowledge that never left me, I found myself shy and embarrassed by how the words sounded

tumbling awkwardly around my mouth like ice cubes.

It isn’t until I travel that I realize how much I depend on words to communicate, to express myself. 

How much I take for granted living in a place where I know the language inside and out, where I work less to make myself understood. 

Traveling has a funny way of shifting our place in the world. Majority to minority.  Fluent to beginner.

Coming back to this place I prepared myself for the inevitable questions and comments from little Czech ladies

Do you speak Czech?
You must practice!
But you understand?

anticipating them at every meeting. Ready to respond with the same old sentence.

But this time felt different, I discovered.

Because I wanted this time to feel different.

I didn’t want to be afraid of my own accent, of my limited knowledge.

I didn’t want to be afraid to learn more.

So sending a silent prayer for courage to speak the words that I never felt were mine:

I tried.

And let me say, the fruits of trying have never been sweeter.

I practiced more and more this time, not caring how bad I felt or sounded when I said oběd instead of obchod by mistake 

Or when my accent prevented me from pronouncing that pesky ř sound

Because I could respond with the words I forgot I knew or try to arrange them to make the most sense.

And it felt so good to try.

After years of muddy silences, smiles and gestures

There is power in owning a sentence

In learning more about yourself through mistakes.

It took along time to get here but I no longer care if my mouth doesn’t form the words as well as I want them to.  It’s not about the word but how you use the word to be apart of the moment, accented or not. 

it's about trying

And what I learned most of all is that people are more forgiving in this Global Village than my worries and doubts know. They don’t mind as much as you do

that you speak their language a little wonky
With the wrong tense
In the wrong order

Because chances are, they were trying to learn your language once too

And it was tinged with a bit of an accent.


Fashionable Fridays

* In which a story accompanies a piece of fashion, whatever it happens to be.

Newest instalment in my ever-growing shoe collection.

Which is a big deal

 because this is a pretty big heel for me to wobble around on.
Not that I can't walk in them but that I used to be afraid of owning my height.

I'm not very tall but any means, but I was always the tall-est.

And being tall in what seems like a short world can create lasting impressions

ones that up until now stuck with me.

Since grade school
Never wanting to stand out
Always opting for the flatter, sometimes uglier shoe just so I could be apart instead of above.

A curse that lasted until a while ago

when I realized that it was ok to be above average 
and that I really wasn't that tall.

it was all in my head, planted there by snide remarks from friends and pimply, short boys.

It's funny how long you carry thoughts with you.


On arrival

We arrived on the coattails of a storm.

The ground soft and pliable like melted chocolate we drove up the main road beside the Danube river heading towards my uncles farm. It felt familiar yet different, driving up this same road always taken. I was the same person i've always been, same body, same scar on my forehead; but this time I came with a new perspective, a deeper history

a new set of eyes watching everything unfold before me.

The goats being lead home on the left
The sun setting slowly over the mouth of the river behind me.

I felt nervous as we approached.

When we got there I surveyed the backyard taking in the garden just as I remembered it. Lush and overgrown with pruned roses scattered, rising from the thick foliage. Peppered with white potted plants.

And I knew at that moment everything I saw would be tinged with a difference I couldn't place. Same garden, new flowers. The flower children of old flowers I had seen summers past.

The garden a prelude to the whole trip: the same but different.

The backyard glowed golden and deep with a light  I to this day associate with the familiar Romanian sun of my summers. I feel no place i've ever been to burns yellow so deeply as the farm into a sunset.

The fade of the sun
the beginning of crickets
Skype dial tones drifting through the curtained door frame

New things have been added.

The tiny village has upgraded itself to Wifi connections to stay in touch with the rest of the global village. Children have left this place seeking adventure and work and Skype has brought them back to their homes, if only for an hour or two. It's the new home phone.

I hear the familiar dial from the room I will stay in, a new room. Grandpas old home has been renovated, the wall that always touched the main house knocked down to connect the two.

The old merged with the new, the joining of two very separate things that, for me, have always existed as singular entities.  Grandmas home, Grandpas home.

Now it is just home.

The sun is almost gone now and the hum of crickets grows stronger outside the door.

I lay on my bed starring at the ceiling.

It is a weird feeling being in this old room and not knowing its walls.


Thoughts after hiatus

I haven't written here in ages. I haven't wanted to.

I haven't felt I had anything to say, or write.  Trying to be honest and real, I feel, can't always be scheduled.

I just got back from a family vacation, the same one i've taken since I was 3 (with a few new spots visited). You'd think it would be the same song and dance this time, get off here, go here, eat here-and in some ways it was. But now that i'm older I drove through the forests and ate the food with new eyes.

My coworker asked me if I had experienced this and I said I had.

Apparently this is normal, feeling an odd sense of newness upon returning to somewhere you've been when younger, and it hit me mid-day in Romania while laying down after a long Sunday lunch:

I was sad for the past.

I felt a sadness I couldn't describe( I thought it might have been the food). A small emptiness in my stomach  for things that passed, that I can never get back. The same family vacation only missing things, and people.

It was there in that orange room that I realized what I thought my trip would be like was much different than what it was,what I was; I wasn't the same person I had been the last time I visited. The farm wasn't the same since the last time I had visited.  Time changed the familiar and altered people as it does every moment and I felt melancholy when i realized I hadn't thought this would happen.

Thinking naively that everything would be the same as it had been, like the farm was standing still until my arrival made me realize maybe I was sad of not only what had been, but of what was happening.


Coping with getting older, with things getting older.

So I decided to look with new eyes.

Not forgetting the past, but letting it's presence bring new sight to the future.  New sunsets, new rooms, new paved roads.

I wrote a little while I visited my family and hope to post my thoughts here.


Weekend adventures


What a weekend!

Saturday was spent at the Eastern Market exploring with friends in perfect weather.  We browsed the market while eating raspberries and sticks of flavoured honey, tasting natural pesto on bread and basil-infused jam. (Basically, an organic, local Costco). We visited a neat little print shop, a vintage clothing store and a four story high rare and used bookstore. A tired day in a good way.

Here are a few shots below. More can be found on my Flickr