I just came across this unfinished piece I wrote last summer, when I traveled alone with my two daughters to stay in Bulgaria for 6 weeks with our family.
( Tuesday, 6/27/17)
We are midway through our 6-week stay in Bulgaria, the homeland of my husband.
Things I love here…
The linens and t-shirts and undergarments hanging outside on clothes lines on balconies
The fresh morning air, dry and cool and with a hint of the mountains upon the breeze
Sweet old grandmas with their floral print blouses and long skirts, socks and sandals and ancient kerchiefs upon their hair
Funny old grandpas and their mesh or leather sandals (also occasionally with socks), and their very retro, unknowingly cool sartorial style
Plum trees dripping with ripe fruits everywhere
Grapevines, verdant and crawling, everywhere (not yet with ripe fruits, but still beautiful to behold)
Charming old Soviet-era cars, colorful and unselfconscious (as though they possess their own, ultra-cool personalities)
Small children and baby carriages everywhere
Big, ancient trees, regally holding court across the expanses of the beautiful park
Smooth, ancient cobblestones in the bumpy, bouncy roads
Cherries, melons, nectarines, and peaches, cucumbers, tomatoes, milk, cheese, and feta– all of these totally organic, all of these fresh and bursting with more flavor than I’ve ever experienced elsewhere
Feeling at home thousands of miles away from home
There is something different in the air here. A sweetness, and an inexplicable calm. People decidedly do not rush here. There is not a great sense of urgency, nor of striving for the kind of “American Success” we are so familiar with. To describe Bulgaria in one word, I would choose Content. I’ve been to Bulgaria twice before over the past 7 years, have traveled to most of the major cities and many, many villages, and always, everywhere (with the sole exclusion of Sofia, which is metropolitan and busy) I’ve encountered the same thoughts– this is what it’s like to be content with what you’ve got. Though what a childish analysis, for of course it is an outsider’s view. Certainly there are significant numbers of people here who want change, who wish for a different future, who yearn for progress and a better paycheck and a newer Peugeot. But still, I can’t help but recognize the easy, unforced smiles and genial temperaments of so many.
I must be under the Tourist’s Charm.
I don’t know if it’s a real thing or not, but I recognize it as existing every time I travel anywhere new (or even not-so-new). It’s the feeling you get when you’re on vacation and under the spell of being released from your daily stressors and the repetition of routine. That feeling of wonderment at all of life around you– the buildings, cars, people, streets, food. How a simple morning coffee in a new environment can make you all excited and cornily grateful, or how a totally goofy grin can impart itself to your face as you trot downhill to the park and stare blissfully across the valley at all the (romantic, to you) old brick houses on the hillside, with the morning sunshine cozily warming your back (not yet 94* fahrenheit as it will soon be, when you’ll be melting into a sweaty puddle and huffing away climbing back up that hill to get home later). Ah, the charm of being the tourist.
Being here with just my girls is such a unique and rich experience… I want to attempt to bake all the words, thoughts, feelings, emotions, experiences into a neat and warm little pie, and serve it up so others can take a bite of it. I want to share the flavor of this place. How different it must be for every person, with their own likes and dislikes and inclinations, to experience a place. How lovely it makes the world.
I had a thought come to me today… motherhood happiness is measured in stretches of joy with children. All the tough parts are trimmed away,
there are more happy moments than not
The hard parts can drain you quickly and completely, but all the good parts fill you up and runneth over.