Home ~ is it a feeling or a place?
When we examine mental souvenirs of time and places, bonds formed and love shared, the definition of home becomes clear. Or does it?
For me, Los Angeles has been home for the past 24 years. It’s where midsummer night moments led to love, to marriage. Where my house is my place of zen. Where work and family keep me happy and busy.
When I visit Romania, that’s also home. I belonged there for the first 22 years of my life. It’s human nature, I think, to continually belong to the place we grow from.
Bucharest, Old town
So, onward traveler
After we bid farewell to Berlin, our next stop was Bucharest (Bucuresti), Romania. Like no place in Europe, Romania took no time to connect. I instantly felt at home. Every nuance of the language was clear, every subtle gesture hinting at or replacing dialogue. Perfectly clear. Here, I could recall childhood memories, reclaim old stomping grounds. Luxuriate in an endless supply of affection.
Strangely, perhaps, but customarily, one of our first stops was a cemetery. We made our way down endless pathways to graves shaded by willow trees. Paid our respects to departed loved ones. Lit candles. Cried. There’s something cathartic about standing in silence near a grave under a willow tree. Almost peaceful.
A terrace dinner with family and friends followed. We recalled old times over seafood and spirits. Told stories. Caught up on life events. Expressed surprise at time’s handy work on us all. It could’ve been called the terrace of joy and tears of laughter.
Next on the agenda were Old Town Bucharest, the city center, the People’s Palace (built by the former dictator as his quarters, and thankfully never becoming that). We drove through historic neighborhoods, through streets of long ago, past old schools and playgrounds once frequented with childhood friends.
So many memories, ever vivid and heartwarming.
Bucharest is a much improved city in my eyes, but local opinion differs. As an EU member, Romania is riding the wave of change, one I’d consider helpful for this once communist nation ruled by a dictator. But change is never easy.
Given Romania’s geographic and strategic location (E. Europe & Black Sea), limiting the influence of larger powers has always been a uniting fight. A conversation starter. Well, past and present are worlds apart. While arguing politics comes naturally to older Romanians, the post-Revolution, younger folks, are writing the story of a modern, technologically savvy generation, interested mostly in the future. Maybe better that way, although sometimes I wonder.
Through changes good and bad, the warm, fun and welcoming spirit endures in this land unrecognizable at times, yet wildly familiar.
The land of many castles. Of wooden churches and eastern orthodox tradition coexisting in harmony with western philosophies. Where contrary to rumor, Count Dracula is not a vampire but a national hero. A land once isolated, now open to innovation.
So many conversations in Bucharest begin with … remember when?
Yes, I remember …
… my grandmother’s stories that sort my ancestry going back several generations. I’ll never wonder about that all-important piece of information regarding my lineage: Where do I come from?
Yes, Bucharest feels like home. Yet when visiting, I often refer to Los Angels as home. And one aspect never changes: as happy as I am to visit Romania, I’m thrilled to return to L.A.
So, home, I ask: is it a feeling or a place?
My ties to both Romania and the US run deep. Maybe that makes me a globalized mutt with love for Mexican food and homemade plum brandy.
Speaking of which, here’s to life and travels and the sense of belonging. To home, wherever that may be.
Images: skyscraperpage; happytowonder; euandiromaniatopics