I just met a twitter follower for tea at Chai House, a Bulgarian who’s been living in the States for the last nine or so years. It was great fun. We talked about Bulgaria and the States, about college, about work, about visas (I’ve got it pretty easy in comparison), the internet, restaurants and food and a range of other things that people talk about but who share the sense of confusion and dislocation of living into different cultures. .
One of the first questions I was asked was about Bulgaria–something to the effect of did I really like it here? Um, yes. Then I went on for a bit about what I like.
This is however actually a hard question to answer. Most of the time, I like Bulgaria. Only thing is when I don’t like it, I really don’t like it. But I guess frankly, that’s life anywhere.
We joked around about shopska salad. Yeah, I am not even sure that shopska salad jokes are funny but when you’ve eaten as many shopska salads as I have. These things happen.
I lamented not having a baba and laughed about what it feels like to be an American speaking Bulgarian. I am (still) convinced I could learn Bulgarian like this (insert finger snap here) if I had a baba but instead, I am stuck with my flash cards, workbooks and fairly regular Bulgarian lessons.
And then there was the sentence I never expected in a million years to hear: “My mom’s tikvenik is dope.” It’s just such a great mix of colloquial English with the word dope and a cultural Bulgarian food reference to tikvenik. Amazing. But maybe just maybe I am the only one.
Anyhow, after tea I walked to the metro .
There were so many awesome Bulgarian things on my way home.
Things that I didn’t even think of when we were talking earlier.
Lots of rowdy football fans. A batty-Bulgarian woman on the metro and a train full of Bulgarians staring silently at her. A woman smoking out of one of the underground in the Mladost 1 metro station and ashing into a plastic coffee cup. A little boy peeing on a tree while his mom held on to him. A young woman wearing a too snug coat, a huge scarf and her sunglasses outside. Old men drinking beer on the sidewalk. Overcrowded buses.
Sure, Bulgaria is more than just these things but I like Bulgaria for all of these reasons and more. Yep, I like the good and the bad. It’s just funny what you notice after you’ve talked up a place.
I got home and found myself shaking my head and thinking: oh Bulgaria.