walked back to my hotel late last night. In the dark. In the city.
I was not scared, only cautious, until I started thinking of where
I was in this country of Transylvania--vampires and folklore beyond
imagination. Images flashed of strangers and violence. Malevolent
grins of hungry beings from a b-grade movie. And a voice echoed
in my head, It looks just like this
It happens just
A girl all alone on the street. Her heels click loudly on the
sidewalk. She looks around nervously as she passes the slightly
open doors of an ancient building, and wonders of the things lurking
in the deep interior. She tries to get a glimpse and even considers
slipping inside for a moment, just a moment, to see. Tempting
that urge to feel and know evil and how it would be to meet and
react with your heart flying and your mind racing to comprehend.
But she walks on and the time has passed for fear. She breathes
a little deeper. Unaware of the darkness closing in around her.
I got lost another time, in the city during the evening. Some
say Im very brave. But bravery and stupidity are close brothers,
and its costly to mistake one for the other. I was farther
away than I realized, and kept getting turned around on the dusty
streets. Nothing was familiar. I knew that if I could just find
the park, then everything would be fine. And the park is a large
one in Bucharest, but I wandered all over, not recognizing a single
My brain was melting down. I called a Romanian friend, but I couldnt
explain where I was, and the syllables of the street names were
incomprehensible. Finally I reached the park, miles away from
where I started and frazzled to the bone. I wanted to fall apart.
New experiences are fun, but there comes a time when you can handle
no more and want to change the channel on the television and beep
your body out of a scene. Instead, you keep going through it and
find yourself examining the architecture of a brick wall for divine
inspiration. My friend ran into me by the fountains and laughed
at me, but I was too tired to resist his taunts. Just show
me the road, I said.
Bucharest is better by the light of day, as I sit here with my
McDonalds coffee and dry pastry from a small bread vendor.
People sit and row small boats on the lake. Children walk past
me carrying balloons and talking loudly. An outdoor restaurant
is playing some Turkish rock music, and it all seems so normal.
Until a gypsy comes by in colored rags and mumbles in familiar
tones of despair. Or you pass by a beggar with no toes, or no
feet, or a nun dressed all in black carrying a sign that no one
wants to read.
There was a small village nearby where everyone was having terrible
nightmares about a certain dead man. He haunted them for months,
and they were very afraid. So they dug him up and took out his
heart. They burned his bones and scattered the ashes so his vampire
self was defeated. Then there was no more trouble. And I dont
usually look for trouble. Somehow it finds me and plays with my
imagination. Im sure there are many lonesome spirits wandering
these streets of Bucharest at night. But they dont scare
me anymore. I see the crumbling buildings rich with carvings of
angels and demons. The new glass-walled banks with United Nation
flags. The Peoples Palace. The fountains. The small outdoor
restaurants. The dogs in every quarter. The subway and the charming
one-star hotels. Theres still room for adventure in this
city as the shadows fall, and life is never dull where you have
so much mystery and sadness.
BYNUM is a writer who recently relocated to Romania from Franklin,
Tennessee, and is currently writing about her travel experiences.
She is vice-president of the Alviogut Foundation.