Three different take offs and landings, two customs checks, one delayed flight, zero questions asked. I was just another traveler today as far as anyone was concerned. Who would’ve ventured to guess that I was on a one way ticket with no more than a piece of checked luggage and my carry-on? As I made my way Eastward, the move began to sink in more and more. Maybe it’s just me, but considering the luggage was packed the night before, it’s probably fair to say I’d erred on the side of casualness in the few months leading up to today…
Here’s the thing; in December 2010, I decided I’d follow my heart and continue my career in the country of my birth, Romania. Since leaving in 1991, I’d only visited twice. Once at 18, when I had what I still consider to be my best summer vacation, and then ten years later on a short (surprise) vacation to see family. To be precise I visited twice in 2010, the first time being the vacation and the second time for some onsite job-training. I honestly never thought this would happen, but it was the second trip that convinced me this was the way to go. And there was one random conversation in particular that I found enchanting enough to begin considering the move…
We were missing a couple of items for a family dinner and I volunteered to go to a small grocery store nearby. At the checkout counter a ruddy looking senior with greying hair was complaining about the state of the roads in the city of Cluj to the middle-aged cashier behind the counter.
“What do you expect from a country who shoots its own leader,” she said, not without a dash of cynicism.
“Oh, I don’t think it’s that” he replied and let the matter drop. I don’t see the point in getting into pro/anti-Ceausecu debates either; it’s a bit like the ‘Fighting-on-the-internet-is-like-the-Special-Olympics’ joke – except in this case only one of the parties is retarded.
Then it was my turn and she asked if I needed a bag, and explained that there are two available, one is 25 bani and the other 50 bani (about 5 or 10 cents).
“I’ll take the smaller one,” I said, so she pulls out a large, sturdy looking plastic bag with a full-size picture of a blonde in painted-on jeans walking a dog on it. I couldn’t help making what was probably a smirk.
“No thanks, the smaller one is good.”
“Are you sure? This one’s much better looking.”
“LOL, I don’t care how it looks.” (I didn’t actually say ‘lol’, but you know what I mean). She looked disappointed as she put it away in favour of a still large but plain blue plastic bag. The guy with the roads complaints was still there packing up the last of his groceries in the better-looking bag.
“It matches his jeans”, he noted. I said thank you I like to match, and wished them a pleasant evening. They did the same and I was on my way, wondering how soon I’d be back for good.
So am I here just because I like random, un-PC, and possibly inappropriate conversations with strangers? I think so, partly. If you’re going to move countries you may as well do it where the difference is noticeable, right? But I cheated; I’m doing it where I feel at home.