Tuesday, April 4, 2017

In Eastern Europe.

January 2017

In Eastern Europe, time is measured in packs of cigarettes. Lengths of conversations are determined by the amount of smoke in the air around you. Perhaps there is an equation to solve for these amounts of time. Or perhaps not, because it passes differently for each person. In Eastern Europe, cigarette breaks are not few and far between, but when they are over, people return, slowly, to their offices. The lights flicker above their desks.

In Eastern Europe, in a town called Bucharest, time moves slower. Especially in the winter time. Temperatures are sub-zero and the inter-molecular forces, the velocity of the particles in the air slows down. Although the speed of sound has surpassed us, the streets and cars seem inaudible. I am able to play guitar by the open window with my fingers, although my calluses are blistered from the cold, and I can hear myself. It's quiet.

In the streets, children hold to their mothers' arms, silently, and shuffle through the snow. For a moment it seems so quiet that the only possible conclusion I can come to is that everyone in this entire town is just holding their breath. Waiting, perhaps. Waiting for a bus or a cab or a train. Waiting- for metrou line number 3.

In Eastern Europe, there is a train. It runs along the third metrou line of Bucharest's underground subway system. There is a train that runs all the way until the "1st of December." No. Not the date. The place. Do not be mistaken, for in Bucharest there is a station called 1 Decembrie, 1918. I later learned that this was the national day of Romanian unification, "Great Union Day" they call it. It's the day when Transylvania, Bessarabia, Bukovina, and the Romanian Kingdom became unified as one country. But it's almost as if travelling along that subway line meant that you were transcending space and time. It's almost as if during the unification of those Balkan regions, time and space were also being unified, so that if you decided to travel through space on metrou line number 3, you were also deciding to travel through time, nearly 100 years ago.

And you could believe it too. Because in Eastern Europe, babushka, bunica, la nonna of the East, wears a fur coat. She is old and elegant. Her hands have seen the cold snow and her face has felt the dry wind of the northern Balkans. A vision of her could properly convince you that the year is in fact 1918, that the country has just been unified, along with time and space.

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