I'm in Romania. I'm with Taylor. Nothing out of the ordinary there; some place no one would say, "Yeah! Let's go there!" with Taylor, go figure. We came to pursue a story for Taylor's graduate project on the street children, aka "urchins," that live on the streets of Bucharest following Nicolae Ceausescu's legacy, the Communist leader of Romania who banned contraception and abortion during his reign in hopes of creating a powerful labor force and world army. However, it backfired, leaving the country poor and the children homeless in a place that could not support the new population burst.
The story is sad. Following the Romanian revolution in 1989, the world began to focus on the current state of Romania (albeit for alternative reasons than altruism probably, but thus are international relations) and the horrible condition of these children's lives were thrust into the public eye. The children were living on the streets, or in sewers; they had no education, no family structure and no hope of pursuing a new life forcing many of them to resort to sniffing cheap solvents such as glue or paint thinner to make the days pass less painfully.
But, that's that. No more history lesson today, or probably, any other day, at least for a while. I'm at the point now where I'm ready to go home. In London, I dreaded the day I was leaving, and now, here, sitting in some guy's kitchen in the former Soviet Union, I'm counting down the seconds until I get the hell out of here. It's a strange and interesting feeling, especially in contrast with everything else going on in my life.
I haven't posted in a long, long time. Mostly because I felt it was pretentious. The writing was good, the photos were poor, and for the most part, it became a showcase of things I was forcing. Since then, I've taken my life into new directions - towards wanting to be a photojournalist. I found a story on a gay Muslim man, which my professor nixed due to the lack of Islam in his life (go figure, but finding an openly gay, practicing Muslim is like trying to find a shopping mall on the moon - they're just not out there). So, in a night, I found me a heroin/crack addict. Took some photos of him begging, went out and saw where he bought his drugs. Followd him to his rehab center and watched him sneak in his drugs. Saw him shoot up and smoke crack with the syringe still in his leg. Saw his prison tattoos. Shot horrible photos of it the whole time. No one will ever see them except those who already have.
But, the moral of the story is, I began to do serious work. I began to do things for me. I began to want to do this, not just have to do it. And that, let me tell you, was new to me. However, I was very disappointed in myself. There I had two stories, and I didn't do them right. There, I had something with real potential, and I let myself down. I'd always been a half-assed worker, aware completely of my potential so much so that I decided to never live up to it. Given the opportunity, I realized that maybe I overestimated myself. I continue to feel this way that my whole life I've thought more highly of myself than was actually realistic. That's a harsh blow to deal yourself, but necessary to my growth. I'll forever feel as if my ambition far outweighs my talent, my skills just one step behind my voice.
I've begun to think about the rest of my life, what is going on, where it's going. I've begun to take myself really seriously. Wearing nice clothes was an upgrade, carrying myself more professionally was a meager attempt, but to actually change the way I thought about myself was even more of a trip. I think that's what it all comes from. This trip. Ah, how my life has changed. The person who got on the plane to London in August has died, replaced by the one who will land in Newark on Thursday.
And so now, I find myself in more foreign places. Moldova, Transdnistria, Romania, airport lounges and taxi cabs where the writing is Cyrillic, where the money is small and the economies are bad. I am wandering beneath perpetual grayness in a land where the scowls are contagious. Where I feel unwelcome, unwanted, rejected. And now, I'm in some guy's kitchen smoking cigarettes, about to spend the day in Bucharest alone, trying to get deeper into this dirt; down into the sewers to see more of the street urchin community and doing what I can to soak up what's left of this place. It's as if I've gone out to eat and there's too much oil and vinegar on my plate and I've run out of bread to get it into me. I will leave this place with a feeling that I came at the wrong time, that I didn't give it my all, that I missed something essential.
I'm going to now, say a final sort of goodbye. To this blog, to this life, to the places I've been and the person I was. Goodbye London, you beautiful city of red buses and black cabs, goodbye great fun, goodbye flat 91. Goodbye Cafe Helen, goodbye Faraday House. Goodbye Oxford Street, Picadilly Circus, Hoxton, Soho, Camden and South Bank; goodbye Oyster Card, and my block phone that I paid by the minute for. Goodbye foreign terrritory, goodbye adventure. Goodbye strange feelings, goodbye whoever I was.
But also, I have to say thanks. Thanks for everything. Thanks for the memories, thanks for the growth, thanks for making me who I am, and thanks for putting my ass in gear. Thanks David Sutherland, thanks London staff, thanks London Photo Group, thanks to my friends, to William my landlord, thanks to my parents.
I don't know what I'll get out of these last moments in Eastern Europe when my heart is somewhere in Western Europe and drowning in the Atlantic, if anything. I'm too exhausted to really be enthusiastic about any of this. In the last throws of my passionate love affair with Europe, I find myself anxious and bitterly lonely, ready to endure the arduous journey back to New Jersey, back to my home, and to prepare to get up and get going again. I can't stop moving, I can't stop leaving, but I have to, I have to get my feet on the ground in some way, because despite the fact that I'm paralyzed, I'm ready to run.
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3 years ago