I recently returned from a 16 day visit to Romania with Andreea. It was my first time visiting her birth country and meeting her family (we’ve been together for 8+ years). It was an intense and experience filled journey and I am looking forward to much recollecting and writing. I am going to start this journey of recollection inside.
I was home alone for 2 months before leaving to Romania to meet Andreea. I took this opportunity of being isolated to focus on my practices. During this period I experienced new levels of clarity and focus. I realized that it would not be feasible to maintain this level of practice and lifestyle while in Romania and I was curious to witness changes in my energy while I was there (traveling is usually very taxing on me).
During the first few days of the journey I felt fine – my energy was up and supportive. There were some obstacles and delays until I finally met up with Andreea – and even amidst the uncertainties and discomforts my spirits were high and I felt fine.
In Romania I met cold weather and snow and we stayed in Andreea’s childhood home in Piatra Neamt (a relatively small but developed city) in a 3rd story apartment (in a 10 story building) on one of the city’s main and busy roads. I am not used to the business of a city and I find it mostly disturbing. I adjusted to the snow quite easily, I could not find peace in the noises of the city.
Over the first few days I could feel my vitality slipping – I was feeling fine but not as vital as I did before leaving. We were moving around quite a bit taking walks, visiting people. We were taking it one day at a time, there was no regularity to our days. Sometimes my energy was collected, other times it was diffused. I remember one evening walk through the city when I wasn’t feeling very well and I felt that every set of car-headlights was attacking me.
A prominent turning point was when we first ventured out of the city to a nearby (15 minute drive) village (Bistrita). My body and I were grateful for getting away from the city – the further we drove the more relaxed I became (and realized how much tension I had accumulated). When we stepped out of the minibus I felt rejuvenated. The walk through the village, the arrival at a welcoming village home, the warm food and finally the walk in the hills and through the woods were all a blessed and welcome change.
Then the evening brought a surprising shift. We were all seated around the table after another small meal. There was plenty of home made wine and Tsuica on the table and the glasses are never allowed to empty (nobody seems to drink water – but more about that when I write about food). A happy spirit settled on the room and there was much laughter. At first I tried to control the flow of alcohol, but finally I surrendered to it and though I didn’t get completely drunk I was well on my way. By the following morning this felt like a final blow to my energy. Bot the sacrifice and the consequences were a conscious experience.
A couple days later Andreea & I again, spontaneously, traveled to Bistrita, just the two of us, again to get away from the city. This visit was more intimate, more grounded and much much lower on alcohol then the previous visit. The intimacy and peace of this visit were rejuvenating – a safe haven. If only for a day I felt recollected, quiet and at peace within. Though it faded quickly it was a direly needed stop.
By now my energy was fairly diffused. I wasn’t sleeping well. It took me an hour or two to pull myself together in the mornings. I was “functional” until the early evening hours and then I would get tired, sometimes I had headaches & my appetite was irregular making it difficult for me to provide myself with the nutrition I needed (and we were still moving around a lot due to holidays).
Observing these changes was a magical experience for me even when I was not feeling well. It supported and calmed me. Having this perspective available to me gave me a sense of orientation. I was able to make sense and embrace the changes that were happening. At one point I felt that experiencing the world this way was as basic as learning to walk.