Sunday, May 22, 2011
In the Sweetness Hereof
Well, here we are. My birthday came and went and the predicted Doom's Day came and went and we've all survived. The busy-ness of springtime in my village this past week involved the aid of the good caruta horsies more than usual. They are very sweet-tempered and well-behaved creatures (certainly deserving of Rapture transport as much as anyone!). I took these photos one afternoon from my kitchen window as I baked birthday brownies.****So on Friday, it was all about me. ;-) Ziua mea, my day, my birthday. (Photos) In keeping with the rather nice Romanian tradition of the honoree being the one who gives, I bought bunches of miniature Snickers and Mars bars to give to my students and made brownies with chocolate frosting and sprinkles to put out in the faculty lounge. My counterpart Veronica had organized a surprise for me, however, and I became the receiver more than the giver. All the faculty sang Happy Birthday in English to me and presented me with an enormous and scrumptious cake with a filling of fresh raspberries and strawberries with cream. SO nice! A group of eighth grade students gathered in the media center to sing to me and students throughout the morning gave me little tokens (a rose, a card) and always the double kisses AND hugs. It's hard for me to imagine middle school kids (especially boys!) back in the states being so demonstrative and unselfconscious in their affection. I felt humbled by their sweetness. Later back at my apartment at the English Club gathering of eighth graders, I wanted to do the typically American birthday thing, so I stuck candles into the remaining fourth of my cake and had the kids sing to me in English and let me blow out the candles, but unbeknownst to any of us, they were the kind that kept relighting themselves. The kids were astonished (their first encounter with these), I was surprised, and we all had a good laugh until I finally just dropped them into a glass of water--the only way I could extinguish them.****On my birthday eve, I must mention, I had another treat. Fellow PCV Connie came into town and we had dinner in the courtyard of a lovely Italian restaurant before seeing a fabulous tribute of arias to Virginia Zeani, Romanian opera diva now 87, gracious, regal, and amazingly well-preserved. The best operatic voices of Romania came to the Philharmonic Hall in Oradea to honor her and to entertain a packed house. It was a stunning review, a very special evening for all the opera lovers here. There seemed to be no resentment that she had left Romania in 1984 and has lived in the US ever since. They were just glad to have her back in their midst--the prodigal daughter, their beautiful Romanian nightingale.****And May 20 was also another anniversary--our Peace Corps group arrived in Romania on that day a year ago, so it was my second Romanian birthday, both memorable--the first mostly spent at the airport, all of us bleary-eyed and exhausted. I have to say, I liked this one better!