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Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Queen Takes a Trip

It suddenly dawned on me that I have put off writing up my trip journal because I don't want the visit to end. It's as if once it's written down the trip is over and that paper becomes the sum total of the memories. I suspect that's why I never did write about Jack - his death was so untimely, so unprepared for, I just couldn't write about it or he would be completely gone.

Ah well. If I don't write things down now I will begin to forget them and that's just another way of loosing the trip. We were off to Romania - for a church blessing of the marriage of LD and P - who, though they have been married for almost 2 years, have not been officially blessed - nor sent off in true glorious wonderful Romanian style.  Though we knew it was coming for a year, it somehow always felt too ephemeral to believe in - that we would actually get on a plane and fly across the Atlantic and most of Europe to a land where I didn't speak the language and .. LOL .. was not TheQueen! My biggest fear was that I would remain a quiet little dab of a thing in the corner if I couldn't talk. I should have known better. TheQueen is going to speak no matter where she is. Not being understood never seemed to matter much and 100% of the kind people in this lovely country were patient and generous with me. TheQueen is in love. 

But if I want to hold on to the memories it is time to begin - and begin with Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015 at 12:45 - at the airport in Richmond - Gate B2 - ready to fly to Cluj and Turda and P and LD. We are way early because it is I, Bess the Early.

Which is good since it took us 45 minutes to check in. At the security check I didn't have my drivers license. I had figured with a passport, what other I.D. did I need? But! I hadn't signed the passport.

"I'm not supposed to let you in if you haven't signed it." the check in lady told me, but she also handed me a pen. My first adventure. BD did have his drivers license but he also had notice to sign that passport and time to do it, too.

Once on the airplane we had a 40 minute wait on the runway, leaving us a scant 16 minutes to get to the connecting flight in Newark - and so began one of the few periods of anxiety on the trip. I kept feeling that if I could only get to Munich I'd be okay no matter what other delays happened. But cross that Ocean I really needed to do. Happily, on the whole trip, whenever a plane was delayed, the connecting flight was held up a bit too, so we made every connection with ease and even our longest wait was only about an hour or so on the last leg. I managed to sketch a bit in the airports on the way over but that was the end of my sketching - the rest of this trip was so packed full of sensations and visions and people and experiences I couldn't have settled down to sketch anything if I'd had to. Instead, I took over 1,000 photographs - some of them gratuitous, some mediocre but many of them quite good.

The flight to Newark was made thrilling for me by early views of home - from thousands of feet up - we saw the Pamunkey, the Mattaponi, the Rappahannock - LD even viewed Lowery's Pt!!! My own excitement was so vivid that the girl across the aisle from me thanked me, saying that her dread of flying was eased by my joy. We arrived in Newark at 4:50 with enough time to dash from the shuttle bus to the terminal and then speed walk to gate A30 - maybe a quarter of a mile. We got in line for group 3 and discovered we didn't have to check our rolling carryon.

As we stood in line, who should walk up but cousin JW! I felt a lot better to be with someone with a phone and I didn't even care about timetables or connections any more. At that point I was ready to give it all up to enjoyment. Even if I did have the anxiety munchies and nibbled all the time. LD  is just the opposite. He had no appetite the whole day.

At 6:06 we took off. I like flying. Even its discomforts - tight seats, noisy engines - can't dim the excitement and playful feeling I get when I'm soaring high over the ground. Once in the air, with the lights of Manhattan behind us, I suddenly thought of Mama. I haven't spoken about this to anyone, but the wedding is on the day Mama died. I haven't spoken because people might think this is a sad thing. But, like sharing her funeral with my birthday, I like having Mama along - and on this flight I really felt like she was right there with me. I even sensed that Daddy was nearby, smiling.

By 3:15 we were taxiing down the runway in Munich. I couldn't believe I stayed awake the whole time. I took a walk around the airport and when I got back to the guys and the luggage, there was B! All 4 of us together, flying to Cluj and LD and P and Romania!!

We made our way to the check-in, which was amazingly easy - all the luggage got here too - our red duffel and B's massive hard case - a found object he'd had for 25 years and was only now using. As we waited for our bags, the sliding doors from baggage claim to the waiting area would part and we saw 4 pair of arms waving excitedly. This happened several times but at last we picked up our bags and bundled through the doors to so much hugging you never saw so much hugging. R is gregarious and strong, a warm and manly man. M is very tiny and quiet and way prettier than she photographs. She is a little less chatty but certainly not withdrawn. She's full of smiles. and of course - there are P and LD to hug and hug and hug.

We tried to get cash at the ATM machines but neither B's nor our cards worked. No duh - we'd forgotten to tell our banks that we were abroad. so we piled into cars and drove to Turda - LD driving B and J, P driving BD  and me, and M & R straight home to prepare a welcome dinner for us tonight.

The hills tumbled and rolled and spilled all over the landscape. From the air these mountains seemed dry and bare with few trees but of course, with plenty of livestock. Sheep flocks all about and some horses. Corn - Indian corn - was still more green than brown. There were some large fields but also plenty of strip farms - like medieval farms radiating away from a cluster of houses. Between Cluj and Turda, a distance of about 30 miles, we drove through 2 villages!

The houses huddle and snuggle close together - stucco mostly, with tile roofs. Old style houses have pitched roofs. Other newer ones look very 1960's square - Paula says this is the best of 1980's architecture, before communism fell.

The day just piled up with events. Checking into the Vila Adriano I was surprised to see my first seersucker sheets - in fact, there was only a bottom sheet and a duvet cover - in a bright orange seersucker print. Of all the hotels we stayed in, this one had the most comfortable bed for me - though all of them were nice. The couple who run the hotel also run a sofa store in the same building (as well as live in the downstairs apartment) so I'm not surprised the beds were nice. They have a little boy who was All Boy - playing with swords and a battery operated car and always looking with twinkling curiosity at us.

I got a bit of a nap on Friday afternoon and then LD picked us all up around 4. We drove to the A's for a massive 3 course dinner of Romanian dishes. Cheese and salami with a pork breast piece - like a bacon cut - striated, but boiled and meaty and delicious. There was bread and wine and a plate of peppers - some hot, some sweet. roasted eggplant spread - Zucasca - and an egg salad type dish - and more wonderful red wine. This was followed by a broth based soup with peas and sausage. Then came perch - baked to boiling in the oven, with spices and sweet carrots and a slightly sweet rice.

The talk flowed. R and M were warm and fun and everyone was joy filled. There was so much talk you would never guess we didn't speak the same language. R  showed us photos from their family album - the one with pictures of both his and M's parents as well as pictures of them as young people - R in his army uniform, M in her college class. their apartment is small but compact and put together a lot like a boat - where no space is wasted. I was able to use their land line (with unlimited overseas minutes) to call our bank and let them know we were in Romania so we could get cash. Later that evening BD and the guys walked home from the A's and BD got some money. I was driven back to the hotel where I got a marvelous night's sleep - 10 glorious hours - and was never tired or "off" the whole rest of the trip. (unlike adjusting to home - where here, on Sunday the 20th, I'm still falling asleep at 8 and waking up at 4:30).

And so day one of this amazing trip closed with sweet dreams.  

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