I knew. I knew deep in my heart that I was in this surreal world of beauty, peace and riches as a guest. I knew I was invited and I feared the time when I needed to step in a different world, where I truly belonged was soon to come.
The scary thought was I didn’t know where exactly was that world which I could claim as mine, where did I feel I belonged and I wasn’t just visiting? The conclusion was always the same: My only secure home was inside of me; The home I was forced to make during that night of New Year’s when I was 15, and my father’s drunken rage chased us away from what I thought was my home…
At the beginning of 1984 the Ludingtons were getting ready to sell the Gingerbread House in Berwyn where I lived while they moved to new York. My fear that the magic could disappear became reality. I tried to live to the fullest those last few months of magic. To absorb in my soul as many memories of that stolen happiness, so when life got tough in the future, I could close my eyse and see our dog Bandet, and Sunday, our cat, sleep care free cuddled with each other. I wanted to take with me the mornings, when before work, I took a quick swim in the cold water and looked up at the cloudless, peaceful sky. Above all, I wanted to take with me the surreal evenings, when exhausted after work, I could come to my borrow nest of secure happiness and admire the Moon and talk to it begging her to not hide behind the bushes or the clouds and leave me alone in darkness.
Once, when I visited D.C. I touched a piece of rock brought from the Moon, but I didn’t think that rock was part of my Moon from Berwyn. My Moon was a Princess, she was alive and feeling. Like all Princesses, she needed love and care and I didn’t think She would have liked being pinched and pieces of her exposed in a Museum and touch by touristic hands who then could say: “I touch the Moon”, when in fact all they did was touch an inanimate rock.
And the summer nights, late, when strange shadows invaded the Gingerbread House and the forest, and the swimming pool and with one switch I had the power to bring light, I could light the pool and dive in, swim slowly, watching the elegant movements of my hands, seeing my own shadow on the bottom of the pool . I moved as slowly as I could, to feel the velvet water caress my tired body and heal it with its unconditional love. I’d float on my back and counted the stars. Which one was mine? Did I have one? At times the silence scared me, yet I was hanging on to its feeling of comfort and the magic of loneliness.
Then, the feared day when my friends found buyers for the Gingerbread House, arrived and I had to move. I had a good paying job in corporate America, a job I hated, and as my boss used to say,” to survive in this place you’ve got to be like ducks. Ducks have oil on their feathers. You just let the water slide and not get to you and swim on…”
I had to swim on, it was between affording a beautiful apartment a block from Nancy Grace’s, in Society Hill, or a small apartment somewhere far, where mice and cockroaches lived in the kitchen, as I witnessed when I was invited at a party by one of my friend’s, Judy’s co-workers. I knew the alternatives and chose to be a duck, at least for a while.
I am one of those people who keeps old letters, and here’s what I wrote to my friend, Cassandra, before moving from their home in Berwyn:
“Dear Cass, All done! Today, April 9, 1984 I signed the contract and gave Mr. Chandlee the security deposit. What a strange coincidence, I am moving on June 1, 1984, exactly three years from my arrival in the U.S. I am excited and frightened at the same time. The apartment is unique and it has its own personality. It is bi-level. When you go in, there is a high, cathedral type ceiling and from the main door one faces a balcony. Steps take you there, in the balcony, which is as large as another room and you could have a different view… The living -room is large and it has a fire place, which I love. There is a small bathroom and a bedroom in the back.”…. It’s been a wonderful three years of my life. The fullest of my life so far, and I thank you and Nick, because 90% of all the good things I have experienced and learned wouldn’t have been possible without you. I would like you to know that I’ll never forget what you have done for me all these years.”
The day of the big move from Berwyn to Philadelphia arrived sooner than I wanted.
I took one more walk through the woods of the blessed part of the world called Main Line, Philadelphia. I walk slowly and I breathe in deeply, the smell of burned wood and fresh earth. The smell of spring is the same everywhere. It reminded me of Romania, of Feldru and my dear friends. of the wonderful days of my youth when we climbed the Carpathian mountains, the only place where we were free in Romania.
The same Moon, the same Sun, the same smell of Spring and hope…
I was moving on!