Saturday, October 13, 2012

Autumn Comes to 45-deg N

October Rains in Bucharest
The autumn rains have come to Bucharest, latitude 44.5-deg N.  It's a lazy Saturday morning.  Oana and I lingered long over our morning coffee and looked out the door to the veranda where cloudy skies and a light rain announced that autumn has come.

Boarding the Bus for Chisinau
Under Picnic Skies in Moldova
A week ago today I took a seven hour bus ride to latitude 47-deg N to spend the long Columbus Day weekend with OD and her partner D.  On Sunday we had a reprise of last May's picnic in the woods on the outskirts of Chisinau.  Moldova's transgender community came out for the day.  The sun shone brightly and warmly.  We all said it was a day на заказ, made-to-order for a summer picnic.  We spent hours enjoying shashlyk prepared by the guys over a wood fire.  The women served up the salad, and a bottle of homemade Moldovan wine was passed around.  Everyone was still worried about documents.  The Office of Registries (загс) is contesting last spring's appellate court decision in favor of granting new documents to transgender people based on hormone therapy.  The matter is now before Moldova's Supreme Court, and no one knows for sure how long it will be before there is a decision.  One of the guys, a big man with muscular arms, is worried that his long-delayed marriage is as distant as ever.  But as we lounged on the grass and soaked in the sun, the worries drifted to the background.  It may have been October, but it was day made-to-order for a July picnic.

Lounging with OD on a Rainy Columbus Day
The rains came to latitude 47-deg N that night.  By Monday morning the temperature had dropped to breezy +5C as the rains continued.  I traded my summer outfits for slacks and a jacket, and we walked quickly through the streets as we ran our errands for the day.  Once back inside, we spent the afternoon and then the evening watching old Soviet-era comedies, snacking, laughing, and talking about life.  D entertained us with a show of strength by whisking each of us off the ground in turn and throwing us into the air.  Laughter filled the room on this made-to-order autumn day that had come so quickly on the heels of summer.

Back in Bucharest, it was time for the winter wardrobe.  When I went to an official meeting in downtown Bucharest on Wednesday, it was in a woolen skirt suit that I last wore in March.  I now wear tights and a jacket on my bicycle commutes, returning to that amorphous, gender-less blob that we bicycle commuters become in the colder weather.

On Friday I had the misfortune of eating something in the morning that must have been spoiled.  I have had food poisoning enough times to recognize the symptoms quickly.  In Uzbekistan, if one did not come down with Tashkent tummy at least two or three times in the first year, something was wrong.  I made it through the day but didn't venture far from the rest rooms.  In the evening Oana put me on the couch and kept the tea, lemon, broth, and honey coming until, slowly, my intestinal track returned to normal.

Oana headed out this morning after our slow breakfast.  Although it was not planned that way, Oana has become my adopted daughter, in the emotional if not in the legal sense.  In State-Department-speak, she is now my member of household as she has taken up residence in my guest bedroom and has taken over almost all cleaning and housekeeping duties.  Dinner is on the table when I get home in the evening, and the coffee or tea are ready when I wake in the morning.  I do the fancier cooking on the weekend.  I look at Oana and remember myself at her age.  As long as I am in Romania I can give her refuge and time to get on her own feet.  I wish I could do more, but at least I can give her the gift of time.

Howland Bridge Opening
Oana won't be back until tomorrow.  Lingering over my tea, I opened the Lincoln News and read about what has been happening in and around my U.S. home town of Burlington, Maine, latitude 45.2-deg N.  It's a clear, cold night in Maine as I write these notes, but it is supposed to rain later today.  A new bridge opened in Howland last week, and the town came out in force to celebrate the new span across the Penobscot.  According to the Lincoln News, it was a chilly but memorable day.

Autumn has come to latitude 45-deg N.  In my old life this was the season when I would listen to Joni Mitchel's Urge for Going, feeling an immediate connection with that urge.  Now my urge is quite different.  It's an Urge for Staying, for holding on and making every day count.  There is joy in pulling out the autumn clothes, listening to Oana's latest joys and sorrows, and watching the rain and the changing of the leaves.  The autumn in Bucharest is golden and happy.  May the same be true for you wherever this autumn may find you.

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No longer do I feel a sadness when I hear Joni Mitchel sing Urge for Going, but it is a beautiful song nonetheless.

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