A ridiculous day

Last night was bizarre. Between struggling to fall asleep and my mind being too active when asleep, I was woken up seven times out of over 12 nightmares (and one good dream). 12 nightmares in one night? How is that even possible? I didn’t know it was possible either. They were mostly what I call ‘logical nightmares,’ which I would describe as my mind not being able to shut off and being stuck simulating a decision or analysis without necessarily being aware that the situation is not for real. Sometimes my thoughts sync with physical manifestations of unrest (such as tossing left or right depending on which side of a decision I’m considering), and it can be rather torturous. On this night, I was mainly subject to two relatively unfamiliar forms: the alert, and the conclusion. An example of an alert nightmare is receiving an awaited email and feeling cognitive dissonance with regard to how to feel or respond to it. The “conclusion nightmare,” as I’ll call it for now since this is new to me, is a single thought that draws a conclusion about some internally controversial topic. The conclusion is usually not obvious but may not be true. What’s really shocking about this form of nightmare is its brevity, since the most canonical form of logical nightmares I experience usually encapsulates a helpless indecisiveness such as analysis paralysis. In fact, the most painful aspect of that is not being able to wake up from such a cycle. But with the conclusion nightmare, I’m waking up because the conclusion is shocking or horrifying…

It wasn’t all for nothing, though. During the longest period awake after the fifth terror, my mind was particularly perceptive and intuitive. I completed an important 2-year-old thought experiment that I may write about sometime. I didn’t think I’d be able to confirm my suspicions without first-hand experience, but now I’m sure of my conclusions regarding that imaginary universe I wasn’t born in.

Things that happened during the day, although I don’t want to go into much detail, was also slightly different than usual. I finally got my chance to prove that I’m the best in my family at a skill I haven’t even been allowed to practice.

Later there was a very long family discussion. Two things confirmed. No matter how the problem is presented, Dad simply needs to vent guy-to-guy sometimes. Mom needs to feel needed.

A 10 minute rest in bed at night before driving somewhere. My memory and imagery are incredibly vivid. I have a terrible memory when it comes to musical scores; traditionally I can’t play anything on a piano without sheet music because I can’t even reliably recall the first line of any piece. And here I am, reconstructing the full visual score for a piece that I’ve known for only a few weeks and never tried to memorize. It’s certainly not photographic, but the notes are clear and at least 95% accurate. My visual memory is usually fuzzy at best (probably as bad as my eyesight without glasses), so I really don’t know what’s happening to my brain today.

To top it all off, I think I might have just fallen in love based on the mannerisms of a stranger. Maybe not, but whoa… I’m not always in touch with my intuition, but sometimes when it speaks to me it can surmise about unknowable aspects of a person just from a short period of contact, often so accurately that it would take months to identify details of the assessment (if any) that are not accurate.

The ultimate question: did I find home in Romania?

I chose Romania with my head and it captured my heart.

I finally left Romania after more than a month, and with great sadness. In my previous megapost on travel advice myths for Romania, I gave a list of pros and cons that basically explains why Romania was a logical choice of destination for me. For those who prefer to be convinced with their heart or emotions or whatever, there was one common sentiment among visitors that definitely intrigued me: people say that they discover an unexpected sense of home in Romania. Even though it’s rather vague what is meant by this or how it could really be the case, my logical instincts believed it to be possible. But would I experience this too?

The social odds have always been against me, but I’ve been deliberately trying to improve my luck. After all, those of us born into bad luck have no better alternative but to manufacture better luck. I don’t feel like explaining this idea right now, but it’s something that’s important to me now even if it’s something I’ll outgrow later.

In short, I did find the feeling of home in Romania, multiple times. I think it can only happen when you least expect it. Maybe it can only happen because you don’t expect it. (‘Nonsense’, my left brain objects.) I felt that Bucharest could have been my workplace and haven, Brasov my coffee shop, Sibiu the place for childish delights, Cluj a social hub, Timisoara my campus, and everywhere in between the vast outdoors. Then again, everything I just mentioned is irrelevant. It’s not even the place, or the wonderful horrible buildings. It’s the people, and it could only be the people. There’s no home without people. “Happiness only real when shared.” ― Christopher McCandless.

The truth is, I don’t know what home is. I’m part of my family, but that doesn’t mean I have a place I feel that I belong to. On the contrary, I’ve often explicitly felt that I don’t belong. I struggle to grasp whether my sentiments about this profound homeliness in Romania is real or not. My feelings are real, but they may not be accurate. Even so, I don’t know if I care. The lie is often better than the truth, and it may not be a lie at all. I’ll bring it back with me if I can, because it’s so much better than what I have right now.

This post got a bit out of hand. I had actually wanted it to make sense. It made sense to me at one point. But I’m just going to stop here. All I can say is that Romanians are the some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met—a statement that I cannot possibly qualify. I chose Romania with my head and it captured my heart.