Friday, February 27, 2009

Shirley's Coming Over!

It is early Friday morning in Kansas City. Today, and tomorrow morning, will be devoted to the meetings of the board of directors at the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) here at the Marriott-Airport at KCI. Tomorrow afternoon I will go to Borders or B&N and buy some books (and to a supermarket to buy peanut butter), to take back to Cluj for my own use in teaching, and for my volunteer teaching assistant and serious scholar Lucian Bogdan. Early Sunday morning, I will head to the airport and catch a United Airlines flight to Washington-Dulles International Airport, where I will meet my beloved wife Shirley for our trip back to Cluj-Napoca.

Shirl is coming to Cluj! What shall I say to her, other than, "Thank you, I love you, I have missed you, and it will be wonderful to have you there to share with me all your perceptions of the beautiful city of Cluj, and the remarkable country that is Romania?" I should probably say that Romania is different from America, so do not be surprised by anything you see that seems strange at first sight. The ornate and stone-solid buildings with faded paint and crooked doors that characterize downtown Cluj. The ubiquitous fences that surround every home. The Dacia 1310s that seem to run forever, no matter how great the gaps between body and doors, hoods and trunk lids. The stylishly dressed women in the city, and the women in the country, who have no interest in other than traditional dress. The dour menfolk, who remind one in their faces that earning a living and supporting their families has been a lifelong struggle for most.

And I should tell Shirl about the Romanians' food. Their delicious soups, and the many ways Romanians prepare pork and chicken. The plentiful fresh produce and fruit. The myriad varieties of sausages. The concern of the people for the freshness of their food, and their distrust of leftovers. (In America we say that a split pea soup is at its best on the third day. In Romania a student friend looked at me as if I were crazy when I told him that. Home refrigeration is relatively new to the nation. They are used to shopping, and cooking what they buy, every day.

And I should warn Shirl not to be put off by the entrance to our old apartment block. It is right downtown, and is over a century old. The door is crooked (of course), and creaks as it opens onto the trash barrels. There may be a homeless man there. He comes at least once a week to comb through the trash bags. He may be seen eating what he has found. Then, there will be the 60-odd stairs that you must scale to reach the second floor above the street (third floor, in the U.S.) Fear them not, for they get much easier after a few days, once they become "the way home, and almost there."

And, my Love, I hope that you will like our apartment, for once there, you will find that the Moldovans have done a great job of making it graceful and cozy and modern in ways that are remarkable, indeed, in such a building. It is the nicest living space of any I have seen housing my fellow Fulbrighters in Romania.

I cannot wait to share Romania with you, the woman who means more to me than I know how to express. I know that the long flight across to Europe is a hard thing for you to face. I know that the prospect of a month away from our New Hampshire homestead, our dogs and our children is more than a little daunting. That is why I am so grateful to you for making the trip.

Romania, the Romanians, and I will work hard to make it all worthwhile.


Anonymous said...


I forgot to tell you that participation on my round table is conditional upon you bringing me some JIF peanut butter (the large jar)!

Have a good stay in the USA.

Frank said...

Lovely post, Dr McDougall - very nicely put. However, here in New Hampshire, we are undergoing one of the snowiest winters in my memory (second only to last years in my home town). Right now, a few crooked doors and some rickety stairs sound pretty darn nice as long as there isn't any white stuff in sight!

I am eager to hear how your wife reacts to Romania. I expect your enthusiasm will infect her, and she will become a Romaniaphile too.

Have a nice weekend, --Frank

SKM said...

I have worked w/homeless people (and with crooked doors & fading paint) for years. I'm pretty sure that if my computer works and I don't have to use an outhouse, I'll be fine (after the jet lag wears off).
As for the sixty+ stairs, talk to my knees....