Today, I sat at the train station. This lovely place is just across the street from my apartment block. I sat on the empty platform in the early summer heat, and compared the city names on the signs. Dobrich used to be Romanian. It got passed back and forth a few times until it was definitely Bulgarian and got the name Dobrich. It was once the place to be. The insides of the grafitty marked, stone buildings remember this time. Dusty chandeliers hang over faded mural painted walls. It was once an elegant city, one with some muscle and pomp to it.
Now, it’s a place people leave. Or it’s the place they marry at 20 and have babies within the first year. It’s a place people live, but not a place they think of as having potentional.
I leave Dobrich in a little over a month. And I do not think I am leaving a place without potential.
If I could prescribe one thing for Dobrich, it would be a 20-30s something gathering. There are too many people my age livingin isolation. People with skills and relational loneliness. When these people find each other, then innovation can start taking place. Movement comes through connections and friendships. I’m not sure what kind of structure would best facilitate these relationships. It is probably something that would be a 10 year vision. It could happen. Turn Dobrich into a young adult “I stayed in Bulgaria” hub. I’d get behind that.
So where does this leave me with Bulgaria? What does one year of challenging days and confusing emotions result in? What form will my tumultuous relationship take next?
There are a few things I can say for certain. There are more things I can say as hope.
“I will tell my grandchildren about Bulgaria.”
This is what Paige (ETA, Montana Bulgaria) has said to explain it. When you live in a place for a year, and I mean really live in a place, sink your heart into it, then it cannot really leave you. Bulgaria has been different from every other year of my life. Each day was something new. Those kinds of experiences and memories last.
I will tell my grandchildren about Bulgaria. They will know where it is on a map. They will hear its music and know a basic dance. They will call cheese/egg/pepper for breakfast “mishmash” and aquainted with baklava. Tomato/cucumber/pepper/onion/cheese salads will be familiar.
But this is not the only affect of Bulgaria on my life. I want to come back here, and soon. My teaching job was not a good fit for staying. And life has some very good reasons for me not to stay right now. But I want to come back. I want to live here again. And here might mean another place in the Balkans.
A more measurable way of reaching this is through research and writing. I’ve been working on some research opportunities this year in ballroom and the Balkans. Coming back to continue interviews and finding scenes to write about: that’s something that very possibly could happen. I also have my future career sights set on some years at AUBG.
For now, I'm heading back State Side. I'll be in central PA again, attending Bucknell University for their Masters in English, creative nonfiction. But ties with Bulgaria will continue.
I can't tell what the future will bring. I've learned that this year too. I know what I think it could be or what I want it to be. We will see what life brings.