As a Romanian studying in England, the transition from East to West was far from smooth. With both cardinal points attracting me with the force of a magnet, having to make a choice between the two came along with a sense of feeling completely lost. The exploration of my feelings below is a trial to become a responsible adult.
The smell of freshly cleaned laundry on every Sunday evening and the impossibility to dissociate the scent and the day of the week. The sound of raindrops hitting your window sill so often, that silence seems out of place. Fluffy socks, chamomile tea and scented candles. Quick showers. The barista from the next-door café knowing your daily order by heart. The sound of the new book sliding through your door’s letterbox and violently hitting the ground. The excitement to see it, touch it and find its place in your tiny library. The heaviness of the bags after the weekly market walk and the excessive care not to smash the strawberries. The weekly flower bouquet from the “£1 only” section and the “I’m sure you’ll come back next week” smile on the florist’s face.
Knocking on doors. Always. Knowing at least one more pair of eyes are wide open, no matter how late you stay up. Everyone in your flat singing “Dragostea din tei” so accurately that one would think all of you are Romanian. The endless post-party nights spent on your friends’ couch because your flat is too far from Rubix. The “you’ve been around a lot lately, leave the rent in here! 😊” envelope awaiting for you on the pillow one night. Starting the next morning with the typical breakfast, with roles so clear that everyone takes their position without even asking – one gets freshly baked croissants and makes coffee, one cuts the tomatoes and sets the table, one whisks the eggs and prepares the omelet.
Walks without a destination. Spontaneity. Peace of mind – not sure whether it’s because you are fully content with all the aspects of your life, or you simply do not find the time to be conscious. The strong sense of belonging to the student community, having the common lack of knowledge of what we are doing as the uniting element. The mutual understanding of the chaos we all face and the mutual support in facing the chaos.
The already known. Space for thought. Time having a different rhythm – more like classical music, rather than rap. People getting your jokes. The neighbour who opens his window every morning, without fail, and asks “Your nose still not frozen?”. “No, not yet!” ending the conversation every morning, without fail. The less-than-friendship, but more-than-casual relationship you develop with the barista, the bartender, the market vendor. The florist you pass by every day asking you to cover for him every now and then. Laundry hung to dry in the sun and the unmistakable scent.
The daily 8:35 am bus to work and the well too known faces. So well known, that you notice when someone is missing. “How are you?” not being a rhetorical question. The train stopping in the middle of nowhere, just because someone forgot to get off at the station they were supposed to. The sound of carpets being beaten on the street. Apricots and peaches in a bowl.
The turntable playing in the background. The warmth. Not knocking on doors, just walking in. Consciously feeling the water drops hitting your skin when you shower. Campfires. A cup of coffee steaming in the cold air. The smell of freshly baked bread waking you up in the morning. Valuing the ordinary more than the extraordinary. Road trips without a destination, loud music and the common understanding that words would simply ruin the atmosphere. With him. Air blowing through your hair. And freedom. Flea markets and second hands. Being understood.