I grew up with a customs officer as a father and a police woman as a mum, in a relatively small city (100k people or so) in post-communist Romania. School still had the communist credos and tried to instill education in its students in all ways possible, economy was flourishing until it was not anymore, and people were tasting democracy as they seemed fit! We were finally free, or so I was told, and we could finally travel so we were all told to dream big, study well and go in an educated country to continue our studies. We believed and loved everything that made its way from over the borders of the country and were eager to see what was out there and get back home and shock people with our new clothes, hairdos and makeup.
My family has been very hopeful and passionate about the changes that occurred, about the new way of living and wanted to take it all in and give me, and later on my sister, all the best any parents could. Trips inside the country, as well as abroad were a common denominator in our holidays and foreign languages and reading were a mandatory hobby, if you were not good at Math’s and Physics. Worked with me, but a bit less with my sister.
From the communist years we inherited the correct behavior you had to have towards your parents and all people you meet. You could just NOT embarrass your parents whenever you were with somebody else. Kids were the greatest achievement and they had to mirror the parents in all ways positive. We had to have great grades for this reason as well. We were sent to private classes of English or Math’s, as well as any other foreign language there were available in the city, so we can become smarter than all the rest and get somewhere.
And I did just that. Had good grades in school, to the point that if it was a 9 out of 10, I would go home crying. Learnt 6 foreign languages, because I “wanted” it, bought and read hundreds books in Romanian and later on in English, and became the pride of the entire family.
Things were not as strict in my family as in others, and I was allowed to go out and see my friends any weekend I wanted (probably due to my good results). I have never spent a holiday at home and have visited 30 or so countries before I finished high school and most of them without my parents. Did dance, ballet, theater classes, learnt to draw, embroider, ski, swim, play all kinds of team sports, piano and some others I forgot. Had no time for anything at a professional level, but I did all I wanted and I was introduced to many different fields. After all, a girl needs to learn how to do anything to have many aces up her sleeve.
Looking now at teenagers around me and young people from various countries, I see the world has really changed and it became less interesting and young children have nothing to dream of and be eager for. They take it all for granted, parents have no time for them anymore and life revolves in a toxic circle out of each we don’t know how to get out.
I keep asking myself how can one change all that and help people see the real values in life? What can one do to appreciate life as is and overcome the misery in which we are set to live if we do nothing?
Right now, the only thing that come to mind is, go to Cuba, take it all in and come back refreshed and more positive. There is nothing like a reality slap in the face, one that bring about colorful and joyful people at all corners.
Scanned photos from when I was young.