In Romania, no matter how uneducated a person, most had a genuine wisdom which others seemed to be unable to aquire after years of formal studies. We called it common sense, and the more we learned, the more we lost this essential tool of survival which we all were given at birth. These words of wisdom came from my grandmother, my mother’s mother:
There is a price we pay for everything. For faith and sin, for when we are good and when we are evil. Some of us don’t know there is always a price, but there always is one, sooner or later. If something seems free, don’t be foolish to believe it is. Sooner or later you will pay, or your loved ones. Some of us pay for silence, some for talking, or telling lies, or the truth. You have to learn to think when to speak and when to be silent, when to cry and when to laugh, when to take action and when to stay put. Every person is given a chance but many choices. Some choices are foolish and take you away from the chance. Bad choices are easier to make and feel good for the moment, but if you make bad choices you will have bad life. So before you choose, THINK!
I was in The Bucharest Train Station, and my train to Germany just arrived… was I making a bad choice, taking me away from my chance, or a good choice taking me closer to it? Was I foolish?
“Miss, Miss, let me read your fortune, only five lei, Miss, cheap!” I turned around.. I saw a childish-looking gipsey in her colorful skirts, her unwashed greasy heir covered in gold coins. She tried to grab my hand and read my fortune!
“Miss, you go on long, long trip…”
“Of course she is, I could tell her that, we are in a train station!” Cristian said and moved me away.
She followed us and grabbed my hand again and before I knew it, she looked in my palm:
“Oh! “She said and covered her mouth! “Miss, Miss I see you have two lives! How could you have two life-lines. See here, this one breaks and another starts!”
“I don’t know, “I said and quicky gave her five lei.. Shivers went up my spine. I was afraid of gipsies, I thought they could cast curses and hypnotize people and make them do whatever they wanted. Yes, I even saw a gipsy tell my girlfriend’s fortune and asked her for her gold ring in exchange. My girlfriend kept saying,”I can’t give you my ring,” yet, as she was saying this, she took it off her finger and gave it to the gipsey who ran away without telling her fortune! Definitely, I was not going to fool around with gipsies as I was leaving Romania.
“You are really silly to give her five lei.” Cristian concluded.. “your money!”
“I don’t want to be cursed,” I whispered and we kissed good-bye.
The two-person sleeping car was narrow and it smelled of dirt and smoke. My roommate was an elderly woman who was going to see her children in Paris. They defected many years ago, she told me. She, as most older people gave me another piece of advice:
” My dear,” She said, “Don’t ever make long-term plans. They never work! Look at the communists with their ten-year plans in agriculture. Like one could tell when a year will rain and when will have a dry spell! They think they could control the weather… well, they can’t!”
I didn’t answer back. Yes, she was eighty but who could be sure she wasn’t provoking me to say something about the government and then they will come on the train and take my passport and…
“I am so tired, I think ‘ll go to sleep!”
I stepped up in my narrow, hard bed and closed my eyes. I counted, as mother taught me to count when I couldn’t sleep..one, two, three… the dream, my dream, or was it a nightmare? I thought I left it behind but it managed to stay in my mind, to torture me. In my dream I saw myself like a circus performer, starting to walk on a rope, but I couldn’t see the other end, which terrified me. How long ? Where was I going? Was I going to fall and die? The rope was so thin, it was impossible to walk, yet I was walking on it, and as I was walking my body was changing into an insect with many legs so I could hold on to the rope and not fall off and die…
“Comrade, comrade! Wake up! Customs, I need your passport! ” The custom-officer shouted in my ear shaking me.
I searched in my purse and handed him the passport. He came closer to me and a strong smell of alcohol and prespiration hit me in the face.
“… and you work where?”
“Oh! American Embassy… so you know that girl who left last year and never came back? Some idiot, she thought over there is better! I stamped her passport!”
I was silent, like my grandmother said, to know when to talk and when to be silent…
“…you are coming back, aren’t you? You look …like you have brains!”
I smiled and he stamped my passport on the way to freedom. The train moved on, crossed the Romanian boarder into Hungary on its way to Austria and then Germany!
I tried to sleep again, to finish my dream , to be told if my choice was taking me to my chance or it was a bad choice which was taking me to misfortunes. I was still counting, one, two, three, four…
“Miss, in five minutes we’ll be in Frankfurt.” The trainman interrupted my counting, and took down my one-piece luggage and placed it on the floor.
The train stopped. I stepped out of the familiarity of the train into an unknown train station. I looked around, may be someone was waiting for me, like in the movies, but who? No, I was on my own and I knew it. I was not in a movie, I was in a reality I desired, but it didn’t feel as good as I imagined it. Standing there, in the middle of traffic, bumped by people rushing to catch their connections, I realized that until that moment I never really thought I’d ever make it to Frankfurt. I thought the train would continue to run indefinitely, to nowhere and just like in my dream, I’d wake before arriving at destination!
Oh… but this was no dream, I was in Frankfurt and I needed to take the next step into reality and I only had two legs, mine!
Was this a good choice? What were the consequences?