Getting Comfortable

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Getting comfortable in a leather chair, a green "Tuborg" on the table in front of me. The light's switched off, but a lamp in the corner of a square room spares me of being swallowed by complete darkness. I like it. I want to read my diary for inspiration, the one I wrote while living a year in Bucharest, but I feel it's too "real".

The palinka is kicking in, I've got leftovers smuggled through airport security; the colorful, grey legacy of a society drenched in a twisted history – who would've thought so much raw beauty would come from that?

The deadline is in a few days, and even though I already wrote "my story" something tells me: "write it again" – but I don't know what to write. I've met a thousand children and played with them in hospitals and kindergartens, learned origami and Romanian - hiked mountains in Brasov with a bottle of homemade "Tsuica" in my bag. So many things happened, but what held it all together? What's the core of my story? How the hell do you fit a whole year into a couple of pages?

Saved by the bell, I receive a text from my former, French woman whom I met on the first day of my stay. She's listening to "Van Morrison", she says, while smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer under the stars’ sweetest embrace. That's lovely. She can't help but think of me in such a moment. That's even more lovely - in a kind of bittersweet fashion. And suddenly, it strikes me; the word I've been looking for to start this grand story – a quite simple one, quite ominous or even omnipotent. Shrapnel of shivers hit me discreetly. The fucking word is...


Poems, stories, lyrics and letters of love have been produced by us truly, during that year in an attempt to capture the fulfilling loneliness that existed. Two worlds were dragging me with ragged ropes at the far ends of the spectrum of my life; "Copenhagen", where my better half (my closest friend) and everyone else who'd been woven into my life, kept living on without me - and Bucharest, where new strokes of life surfaced, and it all held me in a tight, confused position. But an immensely happy one. Let me explain.

On the way home from the center of Bucharest "Piata Unirii", on a regular afternoon in Fall, I leaned against the scratched, vandalized window of autobus 313. I was returning from work in one the many kindergartens I visited. As I felt the cold embrace of unclear glass against my 19-year old skin, all the Romanian voices around me slowly disappeared, into a certain void I abruptly started creating, followed by all other noises until not even the sound of silence existed. The sky opened itself epically, the concrete buildings demolished outside my shrinking perspective, and poetry pushed onwards towards me - but that too I let go of. All words swirling around just beneath my scalp (Romanian/Danish/English/Spanish/French/etc.) climbed the stairway of my mind to the surreal ceiling, until only a feeling was present. Outside this lightly lonesome oblivion, I didn't know, but the bus probably rushed away, the Romanian drivers probably smoked cigarettes in their cars and yelled Romanian slurs and curses at each other. The 25 volunteers participating in my project were probably talking and laughing and eating and drinking somewhere in their apartments – but I caught the glimpse of a pure feeling.

The tears (not sure how many, maybe one or none or some) started rolling like stones, and exhumes of exasperation/exhilaration/exhaustion/exhales went all around my body, and I didn't even care. I shocked myself, I was gripped, busted and overwhelmed by the sense of a climaxing adventure, and all because of that goddamned word (you know).
But I don't even want to say it, it doesn't mean what it should, or it means something else, maybe. I didn't care about that back then. Now, as I'm getting really (un)comfortable, I still don't care. So let's go on.

Suddenly a "Lidl" subtly rises in my field of vision, I recognize the shop, as it is located close by the apartment where my EX lived (at that time we weren't together - she had a boyfriend). I hurry out of autobus 313, fumbling with the bags I carried from work with balloon animals, butterflies made of recycled material, and pictures of the "Little Mermaid" all shuffling desperately around inside. Mumbling the little language I'd learned at the time: "scuze, pardon, scuze", I exit an everlasting moment and march in the direction of my beloved "colleague's" home.

The concrete blocks delivered by Ceausescu are not always equipped with functioning doorbells, (the Comrade was a pretty big fan of sparing such formalities I heard) and as usual at my arrival, I knock on the steel bars outside their window to let them know that "Frej the Danish" is here to have fun. I'm met by a familiar young woman in jogging pants, a dark-blue tank-top embroidered with blondes at the shoulders, and messy, dark-brown hair cut like bangs, accompanied by similarly colored eyes.

"Come inside," she says.
She's got a self-rolled cigarette hanging out of her mouth. Typical of her!
"You got one of those for me?" I point to the smoke as I speak. Typical of me..
"Sure, you can have this one," she hands me the one she's enjoying, and now I am too.
Inside their tiny kitchen she's listening to "Rodriguez" (I introduced her to his music – she almost didn't listen to anything else), a coffee's getting cold upon the kitchen table and a small burnt red sheet with white dots covers the real wood I actually never saw, which is fine.
"You want coffee?"
"You even gotta ask?" I answer
Her French accent is still intriguing. My English accent is worsening. She smiles.
"Where're the others?" I ask
"I think they're in their rooms, one is sleeping, the other talking with her friend on Skype."
She changes the song, puts on "Sugar Man".
"The coffee is really horrible!" I say.
"It always is in this apartment! You know that!"
"And I still show up here, you guys must mean something to me, after all."
She laughs - and I guess that's really why I stopped by. It wasn't because of the coffee, that's for sure. Something rings a bell.

My warm-blooded south Spanish flat mate (who I later referred to as "sister") is phoning me. As we speak, I hardly catch a word from her autodidactical accent – more like a feeling. After a couple of struggling minutes, I get the main message (and a couple of great laughs): if she cooks "Paella", I do the dishes. That's just fair. (And it certainly was my dearest friend).
I'll never forget the way she pronounced "comfortable", it was hilarious - and I'm sure in writing it down now it will only be funnier: com-for-table. Like she's saying "come for table". And that evening, I did.

I hang up the phone and return to the conversation at hand, but a sudden scream erupts from the Mademoiselle in front of me:
"MMEERRDDEE PUUTAINN" (I don't have to translate).

I excitedly discover that coffee's eagerly spreading across the tiny table in the tiny kitchen. She knocked over her cup reaching for the lighter, and the language I once adored so much, is now being wrecked and raped by the most beautiful person I ever saw. Such irony. I really liked it. And as she half-heartedly cleans up the dark-brown liquid mess (couldn't call it coffee) with a dirty cloth, I smile and lean back, barely noticing the stain she missed wiping off, which probably stayed until the next bundle of volunteers superseded us six months later. I knew back then that all of this added up to something special, a certain feeling, but…

Did I know that we'd be lying on my wooden kitchen floor, "Van Morrison" playing "Astral Weeks", staring at each other or at the stars right above us? Did I know that we'd swim in the old bathtub besides my fungus-infested room? Or sleep curled up on my half-broken bed? Did I know we'd be drunken in "Herastrau park" or partying in "Lipscani", kissing on the metro's plastic seats barely missing morning sunlight in sunrise? All the way to "Copenhagen" - sailing on a boat in "Oresund" – to sailing in sheets of a sofa in north-east France. Did I know I'd say "yes" to naked camping? Viciously canoe the river of "Ardèche" while cold beers steadily stand in the sand. Enjoying the shit out of each other. Did I know I'd love all of it?

Did I know it would end? All of it? Did it?

Did I know she would send me a text message one year later, just when I was going to write my story? Did I know Romania would become a world different from the one I knew? And did I know that an EVS experience could give me all that and so much more? Did I? Maybe. Maybe that's why I cried in autobus 313.

(Love is delivered with a timeless expiration date)

Just writing or speaking, using the words available after this turbulent ride, brings along memories. A word, a sentence, even a pronunciation might ignite a whole string of events to be involuntarily reminisced.
So, there's this invisible book, already written, filled with words in multiple languages, just hovering around, ready to be read, explored even, making sure we know what life did to us for a little while, making us crazy, making us comfortable. Making us love.

Fifth Edition

5While closing the 4th edition of Scriptamanent, after the final meeting in Izmir, we are already preparing the new call for the next edition of the project. Stay tuned!

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