Moving blues

I’m in a very strange position of having both 1 week only and 1 month left in Bulgaria.

Next Tuesday is the last day of school for teachers and next Wednesday, two colleagues/friends and I are embarking on a crazy 19-day Balkan road trip. This means that for all intents and purposes, I need to be packed up and done in 1 week.

However, I’m returning from the road trip around July 21, and not flying out until July 27. So in my brain I keep thinking of July 27 as the real D-Day, even though I won’t be in the apartment for the most of the time between now and then.

Most of me is SO READY TO BE DONE. All teachers out there will relate to how just plain worn out you are at the end of each school year. It’s an exhausting slog and at the end of it you sort of just want to roll over and die for a little bit. As bad as the kids get, the adults are ten times worse. The international colleagues have practically been drooling through their daydreams about the things they’re looking forward to about returning home (iced coffee being a big one in the midst of the crippling heat last week and weekend). I have been eagerly counting down the days along with the rest of them as a kind of mystical chant to Just Get Through. I posted a makeshift senior countdown calendar of sorts in my office from a wad of sticky notes – each note has a decreasing number on it, so that at the end of the day you can rip off the top one and celebrate the fact that you have only 6 days of work left.

Except that I’ve failed to rip off the top sheet at the end of the day every single day since I made the calendar last week. I just forget. I’ll even look at it somewhere around 3:30 and I think about ripping it off but then think, “No, I have to wait till it’s actually the end of work hours,” and then by the time I’m actually walking off campus I’ve forgotten to do it. I do it at the beginning of the next day, which is arguably just as satisfying, if not more. But it’s like some small part of me doesn’t actually want the day to be gone, doesn’t want to leave.

Needless to say, this schizophrenic approach does not work well when you have to be packing up your apartment and selling off/giving away your stuff before everyone scatters to the four winds after school ends. I have bouts of productivity where I’m just like, THROW AWAY ALL THE THINGS!!! and then I go to pee and come back to the room and just can’t be bothered anymore.

I know it will all get done because it has to. And in the end, it doesn’t really matter if I completely strip and purge my apartment of all my belongings, because new teachers will move in and will either use or throw out (or leave behind themselves) anything they don’t want. But as is usually the case, moving is not just about the logistics, the physical act of moving. And this makes the process itself as hard as the associated emotions to pin down, box up, seal in, label, and set aside.

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Vacation…ur doing it rong

As usual, I am way behind on posts, and even worse, I am running out of time for said posts to be relevant given that I am finishing my job in 8 working days (but who’s counting) and then will be out of Bulgaria for good on July 27. BUT, don’t worry too much, as I think I will be bringing my laptop on my crazy 19-day Balkan road trip in July, so there should be some good adventures before all is said and done.

Another item that recently got crossed off the bucket list was my family visiting me in Bulgaria and me being able to take them around as if I actually knew what I was doing and as if Bulgaria was, like, an actual functional place to visit and all. And I have to say, I think it went really well. My family might be reading this and thinking something completely different, but at least from my perspective I think the 4-day stay in Bulgaria went about as well as I could have hoped. I only got lost once in the car (missed the turn for the ring road on the way back from Boyana, and then got on the ring road in the wrong direction for a while because I got confused and somehow thought Boyana was southEAST of Mladost), and by the time we got to Zhenski Pazar on Sunday it was closing up (and thunderstorming) which seemed to bring out the sketchy characters in full force, but otherwise it went off basically without a hitch, surprisingly.

Also unexpected about my family’s visit was my perspective on Sofia and Bulgaria itself. Before my family arrived, I was convinced I was going to be self-conscious about Sofia the way you suddenly notice all the dust and dirt spots you’ve missed cleaning when you have guests over. I thought all of Sofia’s flaws would become even more apparent when I was attempting to guide my totally innocent family through the maze of Bulgaria-ness. But actually the opposite was true: it was as if I had arrived along with my family and was suddenly seeing Bulgaria through new eyes, yet with the perspective to be appreciative of the hidden loveliness of this country. Vitosha loomed bright and green on the walk to school, the buildings downtown glowed a warm yellow, even the dogs seemed to go into hiding—or were quieter, at least. Maybe it was the fact that my family was here or maybe it was what my family represented—the fact that I will be leaving soon—but for those four days, and a lingering effect afterward, I loved this place, potholes and all.

The title of this post, however, refers to the fact that my family simply cannot take pictures at all. Everyone looks pissed 95% of the time, even if they really aren’t. The exception is me: I actually smile (my brother sometimes grimaces in a way that approximates an attempt to smile). This creates the odd effect that somehow I am gleefully torturing my family on vacation, so I wanted to preface the pictures by explaining that the Bulgaria visit, contrary to appearances, was actually fine.

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