I’ve been moving around a lot lately. Tomorrow, I’ll pack my bags into a colleague’s car and head for a new start and a new university in Baia Mare.
It’s been a long time since I’ve written because I’ve also been traveling: around Romania to Cluj and Craiova and Bucharest; and around south-eastern Europe to Montenegro and Albania and Greece. At some moments while on the road, I questioned my choice to come here and put off settling down somewhere a bit more permanent–an idea that is occasionally attractive to me. It’s something I thought about during my time in France and in Greece, and even while at Wooster. I haven’t lived anywhere for longer than about 5 months in years, and until recently, I even split my time at home between my dad’s house and my mom’s house.
Mostly (I tell myself) I find home in other ways. Even in the most far-flung places, I manage to find the familiar. Sometimes, I connect with someone who has a place in common with me, such as the cab driver in Bucharest who skyped his brother living in Parma, Ohio while he drove me to the train station. Sometimes, the connections come once I start to familiarize myself with a place. The tiny city of Kotor, Montenegro, felt like home a few hours after we arrived and began to recognize friendly faces on the street. We had long conversations with one eager waiter, who showed us his favorite bar, we stepped into a leather goods store and a Turkish man offered to share coffee with us, and when I went to the tourist office to make arrangements for a day trip, the woman at the window asked, “Oh, are you Marija’s guests?”
It also seems that no matter where I end up in the world, I find myself doing similar things. I am always on the hunt for a good book, and in traveling to places I never imagined, I have found unique voices I may never have otherwise read. I tell myself there is always room in my suitcase for a book, and even as I am packing now and realizing just how quickly those volumes accumulate, I wouldn’t leave any of them behind.
Eating was also a major activity on our trip–to balance out all of the walking and exploring. No matter where in the world I am, people are always happy and excited to share local culture through food and drink.
Returning to Greece, while it didn’t quite feel like going home, was a return to familiarity. We started in Crete, then spent a few days in Nafplio before returning to Athens. While I am always eager to see new places, it was also nice to rediscover places I had already been to. In particular, coming back to Athens and being able to navigate by the Acropolis, running into people I knew in the streets, and of course eating my favorite Greek foods brought a smile to my face.
I returned to Romania refreshed. After what felt like a long and cold winter, finding temporary homes along the Adriatic was exactly what I needed. Spring is just around the corner here, and so, I’m sure, are new adventures.