People of Romania

This is Ana. She is a poet, reader, and thinker who I met while she was working at T5. She is sharp. insightful, loving, and brutally honest; uncompromising in the standards that she sets for her friends and of how she deserves to be treated. She’s also one of the smartest people I’ver ever met.

Ana is, in some senses, an avatar of the kind of boundary-pushing avant garde spirit that I mentioned in the portion of the travelogs where I talked about Bucharest. Her inspirations are the surrealists, post-modernists, and artists of the 20th century. She often wears a black beret. But these ideas are fused with a uniquely Romanian influence. She was the first person to show me lăutarească music, a traditional form of music played by the Lăutari, a specific Roma group who are known mostly for their musical skills. She explained to me how there are invisible cords that connect her people to an ancient set of traditions that are only now being appreciated. And she is keenly aware that being Romanian means carrying the baggage of centuries of being considered “less than” by the world around them.

Together we passed hours and hours just talking, exploring what we thought about everything we could think about. There may be nobody else on this planet who has pushed me as hard as she does to figure out what I believe in, who I am, and what matters to me. She is also at least partially responsible for this blog, as well as my own fitful starts of personal writing. One of the last times we saw eachother, she practically scolded me, saying: 

“How can you know this little about yourself? You cannot avoid finding out who you are. You have to think for a week and do nothing else. And then you have to write.”

So that’s what I’m doing.