Monday, August 15, 2005
In the springtime they are slaughtered. On brilliant mornings of cloudless skies their blood spills and pools on cold concrete marketplace floors. The spring I turned twenty, I saw them for myself; the lambs of Easter, sacrificed in small towns throughout Transylvania. I walked quickly past them, keeping my head to the fence, to the sky, to the trees. I looked anywhere but down. And I walked around the outer edge of the marketplace, pressed to the tired buildings behind the cabbage mounds and herb sacks, smelling wild onions and grass, dirt and sweat. Springtime in Sighisoara.

At the table for our Easter feast, the lamb's eyeballs were given to the man of our house. A delicacy I was happily spared. I sipped sour soup and burned my throat with sharp shots of plum brandy. At first it tingled sweetly on my tongue, but the after burn was bitter and lasting. After dining, we sat and mixed wine with our Coke and laughed at how American's are squeamish of eyeballs.

In the summer, a friend came to visit me. We went to Poland on an overnight train. There was a crazy Polack in the car with us. He was accompanied by a rather stern looking older gentleman who looked at us apologetically after each of his lunatic outbursts. After the first fifteen hours we decided to change cars.

The scenery slowly chugged past our window. It was all green. It was how I had imagined Ireland would look. Square white homes occasionally dotted the emerald expanse and gave it shape. Roads. Communities. Farms. Churches. We opened the window and hungrily swallowed the fresh air. It was hot and thick, but better than the smell of sweat and sleep that was stagnating in our car. From his window, the crazy man waved at me as I hung my head from the train, my hair whipping in the rushing wind. Then he threw a Coke bottle at my head.

We spent our first night in Warsaw on a hotel-boat with strange men who wandered the decks in their underwear. Our room was sweltering and there were bugs clicking and squeaking and scratching throughout the cabin. I itched all night long, wrapped in a sheet dampened by my own sweat. To reward ourselves for our bravery, we spent our second night at the full service Marriott. I was poor, but my friend wasn't, and I certainly wasn't going to turn down air conditioning, clean sheets and a pristine shower - far away from clicking bugs and Polish men in their underpants.

This is how I began my twenties: as an adventure.

I entered my twenties with gusto. I met the decade as a woman slapping back shots of eighty proof liquor in a small distant country. I went on moonlit train rides, staring out the windows and wondering what was next, completely thrilled at the blankness before me.

At twenty-two, I felt the same sense of wonder. Except this time, I wasn't gazing from a window of a train; I was standing beside my father, nervous that the heels of my sandals were going to stick in the garden's path; the path that led me to my husband. It was a different type of adventure, I thought. Different things to experience, different stories to tell. And this is what my twenties have become - the evolution of myself through an experiences and relationships.

Immediately following college, I sold my soul in order to afford an apartment. I lived the Office Space life. Cubicals. Receptionists. Excel. Powerpoint. Meetings after lunch that keep you fighting to keep your eye lids propped open, feigning interest. Coffee pot conversations that revolve around office gossip or worse, the coffee itself. "I like to make the coffee with the coldest water possible." What do you say to that? Nothing. You nod and stir your sugar filled mug and pray that the conversation doesn't move. That it dies and lets you get back to your cube, where you can stare at the computer and wait for the day to be over. I was doing the college-graduate version of flipping burgers: I answered phones and stuffed envelopes.

It was not a dream. But it wasn't a nightmare either. It was simply a necessary evil, as they say. It got me an apartment and gave me a means to start shoveling money toward Sallie Mae, the keeper of the mountain of debt I'd built while gallivanting in Europe and sipping coffee during my 10:30 Philosophy class.

The office machine bought us our first home, and will hopefully buy our next...until I can start earning a living - gasp - with my degree! You know, the second one I'm working on; because I enjoy the adventure of obtaining knowledge and debt simultaneously, and because the first degree was just pretend. It was practice; a learning experience. Toss a baby or two in there and call me a working-student-Mommy, I can handle it. I can take on the world. If nothing else, my twenties has taught me that much.

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Blogger Liklitikus said...

As a grazed through seeming endless fields of witheringly pedestrian blogs, I chance upon a perspicacious sweet that seeds a gournandic hunger for more.

Please do not let it die.

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