Silent Relationships

It was a simple mission. A task that should have harvested little mind. Alternatively, Mission: Haircut was just bizarre enough to pique the curiosity. Donating a personal luxury day, I parked myself in a taxi – a refurbished car that hilariously modeled a 1st generation walkie talkie duck-taped to the dashboard as its AV system – and I headed towards the closest town. To nobody’s surprise, I disembarked to find absolutely no electricity streaming through the miniature city. Without caring to declare an investigation, I found myself sitting in a outdated desk chair in front of a repurposed factory mirror. My head was delicately trimmed with office scizzors assisted only by the day’s overcast radiance and a candle with a rancid fragrance. 

If you stare into its’ austere box-like faces, the calendars’ pages mock you with its short stature but gigantic smybolism. A ticking won’t be heard, but instead the hushed hunger for oblivion inundated those charts of time. Periods of stillness can birth a storm of insecurities that’ll brew in the mind. During those droughts – that first Winter in Moldova or those unhurried eras of doubt – I wanted to spew out counteroffers to glaring issues; I wanted to scream at the indifference, but the words sunk into the heaving space of my heart. The same space was occupied by pride, dominated by anxiety. Are these two years of conscious gambling or just one big throw of the dice?

Those pages have since spun hurriedly. More than three-quarters of them are flipped, now, having arranged themselves on the opposite side of the swivel never to be seen again. Productive mayhem followed what first started as quiet adaptation, and has tore its’ way through those interludes. Finally, after those chaotic months the noise-less calm has returned. Once an enemy, the suppressed clamor now holds a different guise. Its the same silence that once pinned me down with its awkwardness, that wrenched at me like a rough wave’s ruthless undertoe. I needed that cartwheel of achievement and jostle, in this is the year of hegemony. But with control comes a panorama of prospect.

And its not just in my head. They’re roughly audible, those absent whispers of thoughts – amongst the people of Lapusna. It starts with: „is he really staying for the second year?”; „Is…is that a smile on his face?”. Then, it transformed. While receiving fruit and vegatable offerings, I could read the brail on the laminated smiles of the conversations happening around me: „Is his host family feeding him enough?”; „Well, has he found a wife?”. And finally, at the current day the questions are as delicate as a tidal wave: „How is his Russian progressing?”; „How can we trick him into staying forever”?  – I flash a smile, hurl out a popular story in the native tounge, and sidestep the harlmess questions almost as well as professional athletes in the face of performance enhancing drugs.

And as we moved on, we rid of that silence and together took something from it. Recently, I partook in the same „TVC” competition we placed 2nd in last year. The district-wide contest held a new theme (Innovation vs Tradition), but mirrored last-year’s battle of skits and songs performed by youth groups from villages around the Raion. We practiced late into the night each day, and took home the grand prize of superfluicious pride and 6,000 MDL. Echos of my sexy solo dance and role as the „gora” boy can still be heard amongst the students. And to my delight a few days later, we officially closed our park project.

Taking much longer than originally anticipated, I had wondered if my big, puffed up, project was ever going to crop up. The expectations were lofty and the spoken support was fictional. But, that doesn’t mean I was alone. Whereas I searched for the expressed empathy, I found a whole different process of endorsement. The setbacks in our construction not only pissed me off but blighted my whole community. I later found out that the Janitors, Professors who assisted with the planning were bragging about our latent park project as much as I was, and that their motivation would not crumple and fade with the avalanche of pessisms.

Boxes disappearing on a calendar have packaged more memories than I could have ever planned. Culminating from those quiet months were dancing and singing with my colleagues on professor’s day that left my jaw sore from disproportionate laughter. Surprising my clubs’ participants with a night of S’mores – plump with the erudite students of my choice – produced enough light from their smiles to wage war against the dark night. I will never once think I completed these things on my own, as there is nothing the people of Lapusna – my people – cannot do. Together, we are a force to be reckoned with, a force that communicates exclusive of antipathy. The unspoken consesus to reach our potential in the caldenar pages that remain is just too lurid to ignore.

As I enter the transitioning-out phase of my service, I chew on my love for these people. The kids that pool money used for their own after school activities, who have been using public transportation and living an individual life before American children started ordering off the adult menus at restaurants (and we all know that is a bit too early) or the villagers, the most resourceful people I have ever met; they can fix a car, gut a llama, or make electricity out of two recycled copper wires. The fact they can’t afford a butcher or a plumber is seen as a benefit – theres nothing they cant do. They  remember my birthday or when I have a test coming up, but not because of a reminder via social media. The acceptance shown amongst their stoic faces, their wordless gratitude, is enough. The tender compliments settle on my skin, much like a soft breeze in its’ gentle flow. They dissect the silence that used to swell and thicken to a point that I could feel its’ extreme pressure on my chest and shoulders, drowning me in its intensity. 

I pass through our freshly constructed park, and stroll through the hallways of school. Looking left to narrate inside jokes with the highschoolers created at basketball practice or the competition rehearsals, I need to slow down so the panting 3rd and 4th graders can get their daily high-gives; I’m getting standing ovations from my middle schoolers when I return to school after a few days of sick leave. I come from a culture that is so fixated on fnancial fitness, but Moldova has taught me that a free gesture can leave one feeling rich. So yes, with just over 7 months remaining of this electric ride, I submit the people and processes of moldova require a real relationship. My union with this country and my bond with this village is full of protacted procedures.  However, once you can muster the adroit endurance, and zig-zag through the snags, these relationships provide a soaring, celestial reward. Everything that has filled my calendar has, at one way or another, gone awry. But, everything I have done has been so worth the hastle and temporary misery they caused, as they consistently end with a wonderful surprise and even churns out a side-splitting story. Just like that damn haircut.



Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Silent Relationships

  1. Dad

    love you…
    miss you…
    proud of you…

  2. Iris Moore

    I sure hope you intend to write a book on your wonderful experience!

    Iris Retired and loving it! Sent from my iPad


  3. Carole Millstein

    Keep writing, Brett. I inhale your experiences as if I were living them myself. It’s almost, but not quite, as if I were there. Love, Carole

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