As a journalist, I’m not allowed to quote Wikipedia. Still, taking in consideration the fact that I’m not a journalist yet, I’ll allow myself to sin and copy-paste the exact meaning of the term:
Late bloomer: The term is used metaphorically to describe a child or adolescent who develops more slowly than others in their age group, but eventually catches up and in some cases overtakes their peers, or an adult whose talent or genius in a particular field only appears later in life than is normal – in some cases only in old age.
Am I a late bloomer? Or is this an existential crisis I’m dealing with?
A few years ago, I lived in a home where there was no Internet, no TV, except an antique one which is now probably deposited inside a museum. Still, I had many books, a library in my hometown and my trustworthy sources were the newspapers brought to me by neighbours or by some relatives who used them as packing paper.
I’m only telling you this in order to show that I’m one of those people who are literally sucking up information. I thought that’d be helpful, somehow, but I guess I was wrong.
A week ago, I was still an intern at one the most professional TV channels in Romania. Perhaps it was a mistake, especially if I add the fact that the internship itself made me fall in love with a job I started to hate in college: being a journalist.
I was not offered a job, as I was working in a department where people have already been hired recently on similar positions. So I left, after two months, broke and sad, as I was thinking about my life and what needs to be done.
For those of you who do not know about the economic situation in Romania, I might quote some of my old neighbours who think is worse than it used to be 30 years ago, when I wasn’t born and the leader of our country was still a communist dictator. Anyway, my retired neighbours say people had jobs and they could afford more things than today. They almost praise the communist leader, even though they were the same ones who celebrated his death 20 years ago. He was shot.
Anyway, these are just details. The main issue in this country is people can no longer live. They can’t afford to buy food, pay the rent, have a minor surgery, send their kids to school. Young people are trying to escape, leave the country and build a future for themselves, anywhere but here.
I didn’t have the means to leave the country, although I thought about it many times. Perhaps I’m still too proud to work in another field or try to find a job that doesn’t require a college degree. I have worked before, for free, but there’s an end to everything. For me, this is the end of volunteering for private firms. Modern slavery, if you ask me.
The strange part is that I’ve always had a plan. Since I was a little girl, I thought about my career. I used to work hard, study a lot, read and write, thinking these activities might help me someday. Someday, I thought, I could earn my own money, without being forced to work hard, as my parents did. I treated life like a multiple choice test, I filled in the gaps, wrote everything down and expected a good grade. Instead, I was left with a folded piece of paper in one hand and a bag in the other, always ready to leave the big city and return home, among my books. Not to talk about the depression, the confusion, the amount of emails sent to different media companies and the sad inbox.
Of course, it could have been worse. They all say Romania is a third world country and that’s when I start comparing myself to a little orphan in Africa who has nothing to eat or wear, no class to attend, no hope at all.
I guess this is what studying really offered me: hope. If it hadn’t have been this, I wouldn’t have had nothing. Still, I have my books, a little bit of knowledge, a great desire to improve my English and some bad coffee left in a cup.
I’m still wondering whether it is too late or not. Am I a late bloomer? You might say 22 isn’t late at all, but we’re living in a world where speed is essential. If you ask me, speed is somehow overrated, but no one asks me nowadays. I’m the one who’s asking.
Why all the trouble? Why study hard, go to school, torment your family if you can’t find a job among the worse paid jobs in this country? If I’m lucky, I could find a job which will get me around 300 euros. The rent’s 150. You do the math. I, for one, did it so many times I’m starting to lose the track of time and get confused with the numbers.
Or I could start over. Get another degree. Gain experience in some other field. But no one can assure me it won’t happen the same. I can only hope I’m a late bloomer and comfort myself like that. This way, no one will get hurt and I could live with mediocrity another 22 years, until I’ll feel the same again.
We all need a break sometimes. That’s why I allow myself daily two major breaks: the coffee breaks.
I used to count the hours left until my work is done and spend my time daydreaming about that exquisite moment when everything is just right, my papers are in perfect order, my desk looks decent. At the moment, my time is divided between two coffee breaks. There is no clock to remind me about the time that passes. Instead, I have my own instinct to notify me when I must stop and relax. Usually, the voice inside my head whispers one word: coffee.
At first, I have to choose that perfectly ground coffee and pour it in the boiling water. Just smelling the hot steams makes me feel refreshed afterwards. Then I pour it in my cup. No milk is added to the mix. The freshly boiled coffee melts the sugar. Dark and sweet, that’s how I like it. A sip of that feels like tasting a hot summer night in Brazil.
My relationship with coffee, as you can see, is almost erotic. I’m not just drinking coffee. I’m drinking pure, unbottled, carefully prepared energy.
While I drink it, I think about the whole process that brought that hot coffee to me: the growing plant, the hands of workers selecting the finest coffee beans, the tired driver that left his pregnant wife at home in order to earn money for a living, the cute saleswoman at the market smiling to me and trying to sell her merchandise.
Once this trip is over, the coffee rests in a jar, right on my kitchen table. Those people’s work is completed. In order to mean something, I have to enjoy my coffee breaks. And I most certainly do. As someone once said to me, my coffee break isn’t just a break. It’s a fetish.
You should know I am a big girl now. I can take care of myself, I can step on the sidewalk and have confidence, I’m able to express myself, love myself, share my thoughts. I overcame my fear, you know and everything connected to it.
I am a big girl now. I wear a tutu and a pair of ballet shoes, I dance my way to the top and I don’t need any advice. Big girls dont cry, they dont massacre their dreams, they dont have any dreams at all. Perhaps, they do actually dream at night, but that’s all.
You know, I am a big girl now. I can smoke a cigarette without choking and I dont care about the lung cancer, paying the bills, the horrible smell, your concerned voice over the phone. I light it, I smoke it, it’s that easy. Even a little girl could do it.
I thought that bullshit would be enough for him to leave me alone. It seems he never wanted to stop me from doing anything. I can be a ballerina, he said. I can smoke and choke and spend my money on whatever I want. A girl can be whoever she desires nowadays. The only thing he’s afraid of is me becoming that kind of girl who spends more on a pleasure and neglects a passion, the kind of girl who hides behind a childish costume just to practise a grown up habit.
That kind of girl, he argues, spends her childhood acting like a woman and her youth acting like a baby. I should decide: tutus or cigarettes, he said, or else, I am nothing more than a spoiled little b*tch.
I bet some of you haven’t even heard a thing about Romania. Or you might have heard something about our national vampire, Dracula, who became international. You might even know something about the beggars on your street or you might think Russian is our national language. Which is not true, by the way.
I met a few people who were actually astonished by Romanian people. “They all speak English, especially the young ones”, a French girl told me yesterday. I wanted to explain her why, but I didn’t actually have the opportunity.
We speak English, French, some of us have learned Spanish or other foreign languages. Watching TV is mostly how we did this. We know how to read, we do have ID cards, go to parties and many of us have even embraced the English culture as their own. Why is that? Because we do not have the sense of nationalism. Or at least, many of us dont.
You would think this is bad. We do not respect our culture enough so we are trying to get in touch with other cultures. Third world country, they say.
I say there are no third world countries, there are only countries who lack a leader and who lack trust.
We do have beggars on the streets. We do have poor or uneducated people. There is no way to avoid this. The streets aren’t properly cleaned and there are dogs wandering all over the place. This is why I, for example, am afraid to jog in the morning.
But I trust our education. People go to school, they try to get a good job, they learn a lot and it’s not really their fault that they get almost nothing in return for their effort.
We do have beautiful women. The women in my country are clean, they spend their time doing household chores and they cook on a regular basis. Many women know how to cook, this is why if you are a woman in Romania and don’t know how to bake a cake you may seem exotic.
Men usually leave the country and try to get jobs well paid in order to support their families. They are not afraid of hard work, but they also expect something in return, which is normal.
We’re also great at parties. We have a great sense of humor and we are not afraid to use it:).
They say there are thieves in here, but I wasn’t robbed once. We do, however, fight against prostitution, drugs, poverty. Do we?
I guess the major problem of my country is its lack of competition. We are accustomed to being called names, so we’re just acting even worse. Just like that highschool badass that cannot be disciplined.
It’s just, you know, we need to be trusted. We need to be educated and we lack some self-esteem.
I’m not a patriot, you know. I dont even know why do I feel the urge to write this. But it’s nice to say it once in a while. Romanians are surrounded by myths. Their curse is believing them, too.
I love the smell of coffee in the afternoon,
Sweet strawberries in a cup,
I love the sun shining on my shoes,
While I walk on a crowded street.
I love the cars waiting in the parking lot,
The cookies wrapped in plastic,
The neighbours saying hello to each other,
The skyscrapers, an old building.
But what I enjoy most in the city
Is the feeling that everyday
Someone walks all over my steps.
The feeling of being lost in the crowd.
The picture of thousands of cups
Being filled with coffee at the same time.
The picture of one hundred people
Brushing their teeth at the same time.
The rythm of steps on the sidewalk
The stairs, the streets, the road
So many walked on and walked by.
The bench you and me shared our first kiss.
The bench in the city
Where one hundred people shared the same kiss.
And other people will share it, too.
Because the city never gets old.
The city never sleeps.
Human beings are made of flesh and bones.
They breathe, they move and articulate words. Still, for a human being to become a person
You need discipline.
Give up the morphine.
Educate the paralysis.
Allow yourself a dose of restraint.
Then you’ll turn movement into tango.
You’ll turn breathing into thriving.
Dance with me.