Friday, June 23, 2017

What is Your Name?

I first fell in love when i was 5 i guess. She was standing with her aunt across the Street, at number 235 where i was living in the west area of Câmpulung. I remember she had thin legs and cute face with dark hair and blue eyes. German name, her father was a bus driver. I was always riding next to the driver in front of the bus and even before i was in school i knew what clutch and brakes are. They were 3 buses in town doing rounds every 20 minutes. Couldn't keep my eyes off of what drivers where doing. (My mother said i was riding the side of my cradle figuring a motorcycle imitating my father.) Figuring i was shifting gears, and especially hitting the gas pedal. But that is a different story. I was once at around 5 in a big milk cistern at a cooling station taking a ride back home from some relatives in the "country side" (they didn't have self refrigerating cisterns back then, don't know if they have them now). Country side Câmpulung itself is nothing but a 14 km or more (hence the name LOL) with farms and three industrial companies built by the communists including the milk powder factory across the street with the small airport finished by the Swiss in 1960, the year i was born. So i was alone in the cabin, the cistern started to move by itself backwards like on a slight grade and i knew i should have pressed the brakes, the pedal in middle but i was afraid of what the driver was going to say. And here he came running and stopped the cistern. Then i told him. Should i have pressed the brakes? And he made some big eyes towards me.

(But that big mustache on that always smiling round face of her father could have been Hungarian as well. Who would know back then when there was nothing like the internet today. She ended in Germany anyways, i saw her years later in a vacation driving around with a local guy in in a gold Datsun. I even got to talk to her and all i could ask her was about judo, if they had training places in Germany and she said she was actually going to some and i got literally blocked by her answer. Much shorter story).

I was classmate with her in the third grade at School Nr.3. Cause the other grades i spent in a different school, Nr.1 where i fell in love with a different girl.

I was 7 and it was instant or the first day of school of that September 1967. The area of the courtyard i was in with the boys, and she was in the area with the girls. Cause we instinctively separated.  I remember the blue color of  her uniform matching perfectly that of her eyes or the sky that day. (But i do have a separate memory of a  perfect September without her probably in the 4th grade when i came back from School Nr.3. All the kids with flowers in the first day of School, of many colors under a bright blue sky and a nice temperature.)

Don't tell me it's not possible. I was telling that myself for a long time and it's not true, i'm 56 now and there is no point in hiding. From myself or from others.

I remember all the other kids and i don't remember any of them being in that state. What was wrong with them? It was my only highlight of every day, for years or the happy part and reason of going to school.

I believe i was in the 5th or 6th when she fell ill with pneumonia. Another classmate was dragging me to her place "to keep her updated" with lessons and stuff. Those days they brought at school for us some white baldrics and we were wearing them over the dark blue uniforms figuring police-like agents guarding or guiding the smaller kids in traffic i don't know it seems crazy right now. In the third or fourth day i went in there i remember she looked very red at the face, talking slowly, could have been faked, i don't know, her mother came early from work and put her a thermometer and asked us what we were doing there and then we left.

I once met with her accidentally again in 5 or 6 while we both went to see a movie, an old movie something with ice-skating. We sat next to each other and i kept telling her i believe the ice is covered with water cause it was shining to uniformly. She was wearing a light blue nylon jacket. In the class we all had skates and where skating in the winter, at a different school where they could maintain a small rink on a basketball field i guess in open air with nice mercury lamps at corners.

Don't know how we got to talk this but i remember what she said.

In that summer just she told me literally "she would prefer to be friends with anybody else including the school's gypsy than me" (don't want to name the guy but she named him). In front of so many kids i never dared to talk to her alone ever again. And even if i did, after many years, i just could never find the right words.

Or the long hours spent at Cine-club, the after school kids club. Or other activities. Was i in the fourth grade when we went together with my mother, two instructors, others at a film festival for children in Sibiu, the town where Nicu Ceaușescu was in charge years after. Then and there in an evening we danced (I call it in my mind first and last dance with Mary-Jane cause that's whose her name or close).

Cause at the end if 5th i was sent to Hamburg, Germany for three weeks. I wrote about it in a post linked below. We also might have appeared together in short films or pictures who knows. Was it before when i was playing the accordion with the instructor and other kids from our school and other school in a small traditional orchestra when she told me some words of appreciation to which i never could answer. Why am i writing all these. It's not a very pleasant story and some might find details matching their own. Pretty sad all these i guess.

And the teacher at school. I believe she tried to hook us up right after i came from Germany. One summer afternoon she called us at school just me and her and some kids again from the "country side" and we played the kissing game, the one two kids stand back to back and turn their heads and if the direction matches they kiss but i missed. Later she told me she tried to tip me with her elbow but i didn't realize.

Also in summers we would go hiking in the mountains nearby with her, i remember one particular occasion in the 4th grade when after cooking a meal at a fire we separated, most kids went one direction, me and the teacher and two other girls from a different class in other, me carrying the tent that was pretty heavy, maybe 20 pounds and not feeling tired or even high.

Here come some interesting facts. Starting around 6th grade we had as math, drawing and class master teacher a woman who looked like Elizabeth Taylor. Among many other things, a Dame of the British Empire who might even not be dead cause i thought i saw her years after in a parking lot at Fred Meyer in Beaverton a couple o years ago. 8 March on 7th grade. Some kid at school came with the idea girls must be sprinkled with perfume. So all boys bought some cheap cologne and started sprinkling the girls. Can't remember exactly what happened but i remember feeling dizzy or high when i got home that day. One spring they were many (European) cockchafers. So many we could just pick them from the new asphalt side-walk near the furniture and milk powder factories as they were hitting again the newly installed mercury vapor lights. I gather a jar of them, can't remember what happened i think i fed them to the chickens in the yard.

They were some other kids in the area from other schools. Some of them kept telling me about the "dust of cantharidae" and its properties. I think i might have repeated it in front of others at school.

One early spring (we had a snow fight and built a snowman) some of the class went to a colleague, her bench-mate (we sat by two), early years a boy and a girl chosen by the teacher, later by our own choice, boy and boy and girl and girl. I just remembered in the first years she sat with a boy whose father i came recently to realize it resembled Kurt Waldheim, ex-president of Austria and Secretary of UN. So we went to that birthday party and all ate some cake. Don't know if it was the same spring when we sprinkled cologne on girls. Or the same (7th grade) when the boys all went to some brand new metal shop in a brand new Silviculture (specialty) High School and learned how to and built a compass and a square out of 5 mm sheet metal (real, functional, in three weeks). But i remember i was in hospital with hepatitis, probably in the spring of same 7th grade when i found out both parents of that birthday girl, her bench-mate, died in a fire while trying to seal their basement with hot asphalt.

I remember that teacher resembling Liz Taylor, Mme Șuhani (pronounced shoo-hunny) during drawing classes she would walk silent (during math classes she would always read from a big book and in those years Liz made an(other) horrible movie in Italy so we know at least she was there and probably learned some basic Italian which is closest related to Romanian in pronunciation, lexis and grammar. So she would walk and stop particularly near a bench when one of the kids with some drawing skills was drawing more interesting stuff than all the others. Years later i saw the same drawing style in the video-clip of the band AHA, Take On Me, together with an identical looking girl, together with here mother, the one serving at that coffee shop.

(My father had a motorcycle, a 350 cc Czechoslovakia made Jawa, red and he would let me ride it at the airport, near the milk factory, for hours, while he was fishing in the river nearby, since i was 10).

Was in that year of the 7th grade when she would come to school looking really sick and tired, with big brown bags under her eyes?

Years later, after High School, i went one evening with many of the old class mate in her house, a duplex, where she had her own room upstairs. We were all waiting the results of the admission test in faculties. Got mine the next day after a drive with my father at Iași.

But it was at the end of grade school my friend and neighbor told me he was at her place upstairs at nights though i did not believe him.

Right at the end of the 7th grade we were all three alone in the class. Her, me and our colleague Ilie Ceapă. His name means onion in Romanian but it was a Jewish-Hungarian name, Csapo i guess now. He was about the same size, height and weight, both kinda big for our age, almost like adults. We had more than one fight but that day he took a piece of wood from a bench, pretty heavy and tried to hit me in the head, in front of her. I raised my hand and defended myself with the price of a bump on my arm.

Several years later i saw him in a vacation from High School in down-town Câmpulung. He was looking yellow-green in color and showed us a big scar across his belly from recent liver surgery. They were whispering he has beaten by the (communist alright) Police while he was trying to still from the market place for his drinks. He said he cannot drink anymore but weeks or month later i heard he died after trying to have one more shot at a pub (though he was still minor). Her sister came and asked me to take some pictures at the funeral, my grandpa died earlier and he was the photographer of that remote area of town and i went and shut a couple of films, many pictures, and my neighbor and friend pulled one of the films with most pictures out of a camera and destroyed it and i got only a few left which i think i have her.

I remember at the end of the eighth grade a teacher asked us where we wanna go for high school. She said at the Informatics in Cluj and i wanted a professional 3 years school for learning a trade at the closest (telephony) professional school. Then the teacher went mad and told me if me the second best in grades after her would go to a professional school then who would go to a High School, and convinced me in an authoritative phrase like allays then to go to a specialty High School and i chose to go to Iași and the only reason was i wanted to get separated from her cause i could not stand her not paying any attention to me ever.

She went at Cluj and i went at Iași and she didn't take the admission test because she missed a sign in a formula and i did (barely).

I met with her again me in the first year in faculty at Iași, me at Mechanics and her in the second at Computers. Again i got blocked and could not talk anything meaningful to her. Was then when i saw posters put by other students with John Lennon's death. Now i realize she might just have been there for a short scene. A couple more accidental encounters during faculty. Could it be she was not there at all.

1990, the year after revolution. After trying to do what i thought was leading the CAD department at IMU i left as i realized there was no future in doing that in Romania. I went at my wife's company in the IT department so i could do programming which i came to love in accounting and payroll. But there there was again someone who might have been her. I only once had a vague feeling but i was sure she was working in a different city in Romania, in fact i once called her on the phone and talked to her, briefly (first thing i did after i first installed a phone, with much interventions, and that was before 89). But now i remember going to at least one party and at least one time at her place when i met her boyfriend who was looking exactly like the guy from the video AHA, though her not, anymore.

2008. Could it have been her at the entrance of Greenway Park in Beaverton, as sister of Cristina, Angela's friend and ex co-worker, the one who look like Maia Morgenstern? Looking kinda old, she had a compassionate look for Angela and nothing, or barely hidden hate for me.

Around the same year i started to do my first nostalgic searches on the web. I found her as webmaster of a web site of a military aviation school in Romania, where supposedly Nicu Ceaușescu took his flight training. Later i found out the commander of that flight school died with many others including his girlfriend in a crash trying to take of carrying paratroopers in an overloaded AN2 plane during a show. (Days earlier i saw a plane of that type during a trip on Columbia river, before a 4th of July). A big and very slow one engine plane you could not have missed flying over Columbia, i found about the next day in the news what it was.

In the picture first or second grade, me at the left of the teacher with white collar, her at the teacher's right shoulder. The guy who might have been Kurt Waldheim's son first row at the left. The guy who did the drawings who inspired that clip, second from right, smiling. Could the teacher herself might have been Claudia Cardinale. My friend and neighbor, third from left upper, could he be now Mircea Baniciu. Ilie Ceapă could be third from right upper row. I think this picture was done by my adopting grandfather.

Original building of the school. The last 2 or 3 grades we moved to a different building acrross the then new spinning mill down the street. The School name is after his then principal Teodor Darie, who looked much like the Austrian actor Karlheinz Böhm. New building and old available to see on google maps.
Me in that glorious September with flowers and blue sky when starting 4th grade looking a bit confused after having to move back from School Nr.3 to 1.

The house we moved back from downtown. Totally different fence, siding and roofing, the annexes have been rebuilt and there are more in the back. Also her house, about 1.2 km east from where i lived. The room upstairs with the open window
The girl whose parents might have died in that fire at the left. This picture have been done by the guy who looked like Polanski.

The success story of Bunty Bailey. (Bounty of Bela (sau de belea pe românește)).
And the follow ups. Is that the AKAI boombox they brought at one of those parties in 1990?

And the first reaction from KGW8 (not KG8W), less than 24 hours. Sorry for the quality of the picture, it was the last seconds of her time slice when i took it and the camera and i was not prepared.