THE GREEN ISLAND

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Fragment from my volume: The Door and other extraordinary stories

Although I had spent my childhood in the forest that opened from behind my parent’s home, going up on a small hill and then hugging with its branchy arms the entire city, I had never seen the lake before. Agnita, the city where I was born and where I lived almost eighteen years, is in fact a small city, a borough which before the tragic communist conquest, could have been easily mistaken for a bigger village. Then, with the red light of the eternal night the factories and of course apartment blocks started to appear. The peasants were moved to the city and locked within the four walls of the cold un-insulated concrete apartments or, even worse, studios. I was among the lucky ones, my parents, together with grandparents, relatives and friends, built a house, immediately after moving to the city. This was almost eight years before I was born, that is why I don’t remember it too well. I just know that when I got here, I took everything for granted. The courtyard where I used to play, and our dog, Lăbuş, then the pigs, chickens, sheep and even a cow, namely everything that could be brought back from the old village house. Except for the village and the eternity. Because, no matter how small a city, Agnita was a city and bread would only come on card like in all other “real” cities, namely the bigger ones. And people would deal with their troubles the same way and death would still come unexpectedly. That was what happened with my grandparents, who, although old, they were healthy. Then, suddenly, that was it. First grandma, and two years later, as he himself had predicted, grandpa. I was a little bit sad, but I was a child and I did not really care about what was going on around me. I had other concerns. Like scouring through the hills and forests around. Which I walked across by foot, most of the time accompanied by my childhood friends, whom nowadays I can barely recognize. We were building tree houses and, mostly, we would dig bakestones in the ground and would light big fires and baked potatoes in the embers until they blackened and would gain a crust, which resembled the embers. In the end, we would never leave the embers in the ashes, and to make sure the fire was off, we would pee on it and laugh.

I regretted it for a while, during high school and college that I was not born and I did not live in a big city, like Sibiu, at that time, my favorite, 60 km away. I would have had different opportunities, I wouldn’t have had afterwards to try to catch up with what I hadn’t learned in due time. But today I no longer have such regrets. When I remember my careless childhood, living a state of freedom which resembled wilderness, I am satisfied. I did not read, for example, Cioran, Eliade, Ionescu or Noica, until I was in the 9th grade, it is true, but I could climb trees and camouflage, I could rake and turn the hay, I could carve the soil around the potatoes and crop the corn, I could breathe fresh air and, moreover, I could be and think free.     

Today, on the contrary, I would like to resurrect those happy unconscious times; we all – at least those reaching old age – say we would like to be children again; but I have a solid reason. It is not only that I would like to live again my life, to be young again; and it is not about the careless world, simple and, moreover, magical. It is true, but it is not enough. I would like to rediscover the purity of the child I used to be and who had the chance to live a wonderful, literally and most seriously said, experience, to live it again. Because I did not understand then, afterwards I lost its memory somewhere between the tree’s hollows or within the fire’s bake stones. No matter how much I tried, I did not succeed. I decided to blame it on the long exile to the USA, on the alteration this exerted on my most inner self, on breaking the micro cosmos- macro cosmos connection. Then, objectively thinking, in the limits of my subjectivity, I stopped lying to myself and I reached the conclusion that it was definitely a dream. Its misty memory, the perfumed taste that stayed with me, the immaterialness of a pale-flying image and, of course, the impossibility to find that place again today, all determine me to admit that only my wish to make it real lead me to believe that it really existed.

Since 1973, when my exile started, I lived in a city on the eastern cost of the United States, Philadelphia. I lived and I worked there. All sorts of jobs, very different from my university qualifications, which I had decided to burry together with my pride.

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