Dear Reader for my Bulgarian Year,
Many of you have followed along with my year in Bulgaria. And for that, I thank you.
I left Bulgaria on June 29th around 1am. My taxi crossed the border to Romania along with several large buses from Greece and Turkey and trucks carrying produce. I arrived at the airport at 2:45am in Bucharest and waited until my 8am flight, awake and tense, curled up on suitcases and watching Season 3 of “Grey’s Anatomy” (seriously, nothing like blood and guts and dysfunctional characters to keep you awake to watch your stuff).
The final days were stressful and oddly empty. I had a few structured goodbyes but even the classes were largely empty. It was almost summer holidays, of course. Who can compare to the allure of summer holidays and the anxiety of living them fully? Not one soul, my friends. Not one soul.
The weekend before, there was a severe flood. I was going to write about it but somehow couldn’t quite yet. It was part of saying goodbye. The destruction of part of my town was a surreal experience. I helped one afternoon with mopping up mud in one house, children’s toys and blankets sitting outside to dry. And then it rained and the grief of the house owner came with the rain and seeing undone work and the loss of years in a night of water and bad piping.
Who to blame? Everyone looked for someone to blame.
The priest of the local Orthodox church also died the night before I was supposed to leave. His reputation went before him as a kind and gracious man. He had established a home for women from abusive situations or as a step to leave prostitution. He was a man respected and loved. I attended the end of his funeral on accident, waiting for my last Bulgarian sunset in the garden beside the church, wondering what people were doing loitering outside. I saw the casket covered in flowers ready for burial in the garden. I only learned later that it was the priest people said I should meet but whom I had never been able to.
Rosi, my Bulgarian instructor and friend, came with me to Varna to catch my transport. Peter, her husband, drove. Radost sat with me in the back and we had silent dance parties to the radio. They are a family I feel as if I have known for longer than a year. Hopefully, my winsome portrayal of Pennsylvania will convince them to come for a visit.
And then I crossed the border to Romania, across the bridge from Rousse spanning the Danube River. Then a short flight. And now I am in Prague.
Prague. A city of magical buildings. After a year of Dobrich and Balkan life, I find Prague large and strange. Gothic and Baroque and Catholic. I do not know these buildings and feel odd in their streets. I’m here to write but it’s been hard to do that yet with so much imposing grandeur and a complicated living situation. But it’s starting.
Being around a whole posse of writers is a breath to me. My lungs feel full of air. Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out. Energy and motion. I just finished lunch with the two other nonfiction writers in our crew. It’s the feeling people describe as finding “my tribe”. There are probably others, but having Julia and Lara is like have a little tribe. Being in your 20s and memoirists will do that to individuals.
I’m in love, but not with Prague: with the writers around me.
That being said, Prague is astoundingly beautiful.
I’ll more about Prague another time, perhaps. Not that you, my blog reader, necessarily want to know about all my travel destinations. There are stories that can be told, though, stories worth hearing. It’s so different from all I’ve known this year. I can feel my “Bulgarian showing” as the other American teachers used to joke. One of the writers has been to Bulgaria and it’s been nice to compare stories from our travels there. You’ve been to Rila? What did you think? Sozopol during summertime is just a party town but you’ve been there in the off season? Perfect. Isn’t Sozopol perfect in off season?
I’ll be in Prague till July 26th. On that day, I head home. Blogging may or may not happen with any regularity during that time due to writing focus in other places. Think of me.
I’ll drink a proper Czech beer for you.