You know how you experience something completely in the moment, and you say to yourself, "this is just magic, and I'll never forget it as long as I live." Well, I experienced some of those magic moments during my two weeks in Romania, and I'd like to describe them here. And then I swear I'll stop talking about it.
1) There was a group of Italian volunteers living in the house with us, older gentlemen who were there to install bathrooms in one of the houses. They would work hard all day and then usually disappear for dinner, but on their last night there, they stayed in and cooked their own meal. We all shared a kitchen, but we didn't do our own cooking—we ate from the communal pot, so to speak. So, when we smelled the wonderful aromas of pasta with fresh herbs and salami, we were jealous but stayed out of their way. When they were finished eating, they sat around the table with Nicoletta, a Romanian teacher who was living with us, too, and who worked at the orphanage. She was playing the guitar and singing for the men, and that's when some of us walked in, and it was magic. Because I was the older person among the volunteers, and some of the residents referred to me at Madame, I was given a seat, and we all sat and listened to Nicoletta's sweet and clear voice. She sang mostly Romanian songs, and a few times, one of the high school boys joined in. And then she said, "Here's one for Scout," because she was about to sing a song in English, one of Ricky Valens' classics. I was sorry when the evening ended and we all went to bed.
2) One day, I was Up Top near the kitchen with Maggie, and we saw Ciprian handing a bouquet of wild flowers to a woman and taking her photo with his cell phone. It was simple enough and not much of a mystery, but then we saw him knocking on a door and presenting the same bouquet of flowers, and then another door and another. Here's what we learned: when someone feels they have offended someone, they give the flowers to Ciprian, and he delivers the flowers to the offended party with a simple message that someone, nameless, has offended them. Will they accept the flowers and an apology and give them forgiveness in return? The person will generally say yes but then give the flowers back because they, too, have offended someone. Ciprian will take a photo to document the acceptance but will then take the flowers to the next offended person, receive their forgiveness and go to the person the next person feels deserves an apology. It's a beautiful tradition, one I learned is not traditional Romanian but base on a TV show. Still, it's beautiful.
3) It was getting late one evening, and the dining room was shockingly noisy with the bellowing of boys and giggling of girls, so Eustacia, Maggie and I went into the kitchen to see what we could see. What we saw were a few Romanians sitting at the table and playing a game along the lines of Scattergories. They had written categories on sheets of paper—animals, bodies of water, people names...—and they had devised a way to choose a starting letter. They scooted over and let us play in English, while Maggie alternated between English, Armenian and Russian because she's smart that way. We played round after round, sometimes canceling each other out because the Romanian word for duck might start with a D, for example. It was very fun, and I think a little magical.
4) When you live in a commune with over 100 people, finding quiet space can be difficult, but Nicoletta found some, and I slipped in and stood by to observe as quietly as I could. I found her with a few residents, children and adults, and they were sitting near the wood pile and singing songs. It was peaceful where they were, and the setting was perfect for Nicoletta's sweet voice. They all scooted over and gave me a seat on a log, and it was a bit of magic.