Day in and day out, my time spent in Romania has been..let’s see, how does one say this is a bit fantastical, whimsical and even sometimes like walking through a 1980’s music video. In other words, I often find myself in roles (such as Laura Ingalls Wilder, Susie Homemaker, Molly Ringwald and even Madonna – Pre-Kabala) and situations that are so surreal that I cannot believe what Iam actually seeing or doing.
In fact, it’s so surreal that I’ve become accustomed to referring to it as not real life. Perhaps it’s because I build a fire to warm my Bouse that has hay in the roof for insulation or because I make my own booze or see grown men peeing in public in broad daylight or simply because I am getting to do and experience things that one only gets to dream of doing.
Either way, I find myself referring to home and life in Minnesota as”real life.” For example; In real life, I would never spend 4 hours sewing a new zipper into my pants or fix my toilet with dental floss. During real life, I never baked goods for my neighbors or worried about the curent making me ill. When I return to real life, I suppose I’ll have to resume taking daily showers and nobody will know who I am walking down the street. So will I reluctantly return to Betsy in Real Life, continue living as Betsy in Fairy Gnome land or will I find a friendly combination of Betsy in Real Gnome Life? There will definitely be parts of me that will fortunately remain changed forever and there are parts of me that I can’t wait to have back. But why? Why can’t the wondrous whims co-exist with the rigid real?
On the contrary, perhaps they can. Recently my parents, the ones who inducted me into the real life, came to visit me here. Other than the fact that I could now pick them out as foreigners from a mile away, their mere existence seemed very real. After spending a decent amount of time in this dreamland, it was kind of nice to have some of my feelings, experiences and observations validated. Walking down the street with my parents was quite enjoyable, for my mom was far more terrified of the dogs than I and no one dare harass me when I was with a man who dwarfed most Romanians. I very much enjoyed watching my father trying to fit in the bed on the overnight train, and his enthusiasm for learning Romanian; he terrified every bunica in sight as he happily greeted them and only ordered Mexican Penis at the restaurant once. Mom quickly picked up on the irony in stating :There should be and the fun in reusing disposable plastic items (not just because I’ve become worse than grandma but also because Mikey got a surprise swig of Palinka instead of water when he went to take his vitamins.) But maybe they too, had fallen under the spell. As soon as they left, it was as if they had never been here. But that’s how it works in a land where Laura Ingalls Wilder and Molly Ringwald walk arm in arm; you’re only left with a vivid yet unrealistic memory that can never quite be conveyed to anyone else.