Outside in Bucharest the clouds pour gentle, warm buckets of rain. Button-up shirts look three shades darker around the shoulders and back. Hair, too. The smell of flaky, crispy pastries finds its way through the wetness of morning. It is still early, but not for long. One reads.
A list, it can be fun, especially with a good prompt. I’ll probably write it, number it backwards, then write a little to each number, add some fun GIFs. We like countdowns. Some like the rain. Here it is.
Here, a list of things I cannot live without. Partly inspired by a new home, the weather, and my missing people overseas.
10. My Ela’s Breakfast
The first one is easy. Whether semolina, oatmeal, or pancakes . . .
I always enjoy the mornings with her. Before moving here my breakfast consisted of yogurt, a bagel, and maybe a fruit. Not bad, but multiply that by 365, then again by a handful of years. It got a little boring. With her as chef, however, every morning is a surprise, the occasion to get the day going.
9. Pens and Paper
C’mon, this one is easy. No matter where I go, even if unused, I carry a pen (usually two) and a notebook in my pocket. Like having a savings account, it’s better to have and not spend than to spend and not have. In the occasional apocalypse scenario that plays in my mind, I cannot imagine not having pen and paper. Not even for stories, doodles or new words, or calligraphy practice, or whatever.
Not the singer of manele music (a kind of Romanian gypsy reggaeton genre, which people love to hate and hate to love). What I mean is the food, pronounced in English as “chorba.” Take a look at that.
Not for nothing is my favorite number assigned to my favorite new dish I have every week: ciorba. It’s Romanian soup with sour, tasty borsch. The rain makes me hungry for hot savory bowls of slurp-able delight. Pinch a dash of parsley and lovage, sip, bite a meatball, yum. Excuse me.
To those who know and don’t know, humor is a must in my life. In almost all situations. When things get a little too tense or sad, a joke to crack the heat or sorrow can make it all spin back to normal.
Besides, it helps that I laugh at just about anything, from boogers on white walls, to the same Cohen brothers one-liner, even kid jokes. (Why is “T” like an island? Because it is in the middle of waTer.)
What you call repetitive, I call heart beat. When you don’t rock, I get more room on the floor. Because the beat, the groove, and trance are my friends. And we dance all night and day long.
I’m tired of explaining mate, at least for the next few years. Just take the thing, alright, and don’t touch the straw! Pass it back when you’re done. <Two minutes go by.> Tastes good, right? Bitter, green, and earthy. <Another minute goes by.> Damn good caffeine, isn’t it? <After a year of drinking it every day, for years, and developing a soft addiction . . .> Gotta have my mate! Mom, are you visiting soon? Bring some mate!!
Speaking of family, but also with friends and loved ones, YUH. Facetime is it. Facetiming grandparents, best friends, and your “significant other” overseas, like those babies above, a must. Coolest simple creation of the century, for now.
3. Weekly planners, purchased every year
The first week of January I buy the one that will last me the next 51 weeks. Birthdays, appointments, meetings, I like to see my week at a glance. But then in each day’s place, I’ll draw a line and mark off hour blocks. Sometimes I even go so far as to divide the hour into quarters. I like to plan my day, in 15 min increments, what’s wrong with that.
It helps me float down each item on the list, until complete.
2. A library
Everywhere I go, the piles I produce are of books. I buy books, I collect them, I like to stare at the spine of books I have read and remember reading them. It’s a must, and not only a must, but necessary: my being somewhere implies a library is forming. I have two now, one in Houston and another in Bucharest. These are the personal ones. As far as public libraries, there is always one I frequent. These days it’s the Cervantes Institute library, the Rosales, where I rent my Spanish and Argentine films from.
1. A home
Every all adventures begin and end. Like, traveling itself can be fun, but eventually the feeling to return comes back. There has to be land to take off from, there has to be a place to land in on. My home is mine. Your home is yours. To share is a blast. But a home is the one thing I cannot live without. And why, because. No explaining necessary, no way to argue for one, it’s so true.