It has been four years for me now in the UK and I have finally got a woman friend very close to me now. Ever since moving further away from both my mother and my grandmother, since I left the city which I once thought I would always live in, I did yearn for that joyful, tender and intuitive bond that a woman can only have with another woman.
I have always had great male friends, but there is nothing like a long chat over a cup of coffee, between two women who are good friends, while the daylight begins to dim and get a honey-like consistency, and the words flow from one to another like kitten bouncing softly over a bunch of velvety pillows.
And there is nothing like going for a walk in the nearby park, while your legs ache from the last Body Balance session, led by a woman (yes, don’t tell me I am biased, but I find the energy of a female trainer more beneficial to me in such a class), while you complain and laugh of your aches and make silly jokes, only so that a few minutes later both of you talk lively about how the sunlight falls over the trees crowns projected against a picturesque sky, then go sit on a bench and you find you need to take a photo of her hair shinning with cherry-like reflections in the sunset rays.
There are many, many great moments I have shared with male friends, and the first one to jump in my mind is having hours of discussions on literature and all sorts in a basement rock club, smoking a whole pack of 20 fags between the two of us and him having lots more beers than me (I am done at two, thank you), and one of these crazy intoxicating nights going for a stroll with him to the most beautiful square in the city only to start talking about climate change and maybe a possible new ice age, all on a freezing January night, and then parting there to go in different directions half frozen, half terrified (him) and half drunk (me), but completely relaxed and satisfied with the whole evening.
Today though it is all about women. It is the International Women’s Day and I should have sent cards back home to my mum and both my nans, but I forgot.
With my mum I have always had a strong emotional bond, and there was always great attachment between us. I can honestly say that I was my mum’s girl until about a few years ago, when I finally grew up and took the necessary step to independence. She has always been a strong active woman, despite being a housewife for many years now, or even due to it. Back home, she is the one who pulls all the strings and organizes everything in the family, and makes sure that everybody is somehow taken care of, fed and clean and sorted out, and not doing all sorts of stupid things.
It was my mum who named me Catalina after the name of a princess in a Romanian philosophical poem about the eternal love of an immortal soul, embodied by the Evening Star, and the mortal beautiful young lady. She used to chant it to me on an old classical Romanian romantic song, but with the verses of the poem, whenever I could not sleep, possibly due to illness, when I was about two-three years old. I do remember how it sounded and I do remember how I misunderstood a certain word in the verses, thinking it is the shade of a certain colour, when it was actually a verb.
It was my mum who was very strict with me doing all my homework to the highest standards, because I had the intelligence for it, and who ripped the page out of my homework notebook had I made too many mistakes on it and I would start all over again. This happened only during my first two years in school, as later on I moved over to my grandparents in the city, partly due to illness, partly to go to a better school, and there I did all my homework unsupervised. So her being demanding of me worked and helped me have high standards of myself later on.
Left: My nan with me, when I was 1 month and a half old. Right: With nan, probably 3-4 years old, at Govora resort. Centre: With nan on my 11th birthday)
My nan, my sweet old grandmother whom I then grew up with since I was eight and continued to live with in the old city flat until the second year of my University studies. My clashes with nan were very seldom and strictly in the first years of me living with her and with granddad, as at times I was not only feisty, but really naughty and speaking nastily to her. And once I did broke a boy’s teeth out in the street, with my foot, when I was actually just trying to scare him away, and that time I was harshly punished.
But then she was the one who always cooked for me, did my laundry, ironed, made sure I washed my hair right, rinsed it with a certain camomile concoction to make it strong and shiny and to preserve its blonde highlights. She was the one who woke me up in the morning and my glass of hot cocoa milk was ready on the table, together with the two pieces of bread, butter and jam or a few biscuits, or fried egg and sausage. The in the evenings she’d sometimes ask me if I fancied this or that for dinner, things which I actually had in my mind and she just seemed to have guessed them. It is since then that I strongly believe in telepathy.
From her I had learnt how to organise my day into sections, so that I planned for a time to study and a time to relax, and all the evening routine. Unfortunately, over the years I have kind of forgotten this precious lesson.
With her I shared a passion for music, as well as for knitting, doing tapestry and other crafts which she highly encouraged me with and even taught me a few tricks. And she was the one who’d play my student when I was the teacher, at times praising her, at times scolding her and making her laugh and telling her she needs to be serious for the game to work.
If I am to mention all the amazing women whom I have known over the years and whom I think fondly of and treasure as friends, or teachers, or inspiring people, I will turn this text, intended for my blog, into a book. Thinking of it, it doesn’t sound like a bad idea after all.
Some of the girl friends I had in the past I lost contact with and probably will never regain it. But that is life, sometimes you go different ways from the people you love and keep the lasting, shiny memory of them and the things you had together. With N. I used to spend chilly autumn evenings in the garden or in the front of my or her house, sometimes in the church yard (considering my father is a priest and we lived just next to it) and sing our favourite songs together to a bright full moon. In the summer days we’d go on a stroll to her nan’s house, taking my massive mongrel dog, who had some Schnauzer DNA in his blood and looked exactly like one, a gentle giant, and her nan will always have some goodies aside for us. When we grew into teenagers we’d always go to the local disco together and dance our shoes off, and then next morning would wake up to go to church for mass and we’d stay close together with our arms intertwined during the whole service. We loved each other like sisters and one summer afternoon decided we had to become blood sisters, so we made small cuts in our palms, in the church yard, held our hands together and swore eternal friendship. She would always listen to me reading her my poetry and we’d always talk for hours about boys, our favourite TV series and the stories from school.
But then I know all of you, ladies, have such stories which are most precious to you. Some of you might even have been blessed with sisters, or daughters, or granddaughters, I always wanted to have one, but it just did not happen.
My diploma work when I graduated University was centred around Virgin Mary as an inspiring motherly and womanly figure, and the other feminine types which appeared predominantly on Middle Ages and Renaissance literature. I was particularly fascinated by the adored Lady of the Heart in the troubadours’ creations, as I had learnt in Anthropology that being a dedicated admirer of the beauty and virtues of a (generally) married lady was a wide practice for noble young men during those times.
Reaching this point I felt I needed some Bjork on the background, and I think I will conclude with posting one of her songs/videos. She is one of the women I admire and I have gradually discovered growing up, with her universe of surreal images, with her voice made for magic chants and with that air of a sorceress that both awes me and makes me love her. Bjork is, somehow, my good Snow Queen, whom my heart needs when it has to sink without fear into its own femininity and, at the same time, into the secret understanding which only a woman can have for another woman’s emotional inner dance, cry, jump and flight.