Days pass by so fast I feel as if I lived in the Czech Republic in some past life. I have the feeling no matter how many changes occur each day it is as if nothing actually happens. I don’t know if it’s good or bad. I feel as if my life now is in some sort of an awaiting phase, getting ready to begin. But not today.
My life now is like the spring – one day it’s here, another day it’s gone.
We already have something like a daily routine. Only half of it is ours. The other half we inherited. I think about many things. Lukas acts.
Our first project is a bedroom. My younger sis and Lukas are making a hole in the wall to connect the wood stove with the chimney because it’s too cold on the second floor for us to live there. They hit a cable. The electricity for the entire hourse goes off. We go out under the rain and we wonder which among the electrical panels in the street is linked to our house and whether we can insert a metal bar in it to lift the fallen electricity switch. It’s nighttime, we’re alone in the street and I feel like a little kid that can’t deal with life on her own. I’ve felt like this before, no worries. We go to our neighbours to ask them if by any chance they know which our electrical panel is. We see them watching TV but they’re quite elderly so they don’t hear our screaming. Their dogs are barking, the rain is falling and we’re shouting but no one comes out. In the end, my sis starts sending signals with a torch. It goes off so she spins the dinamo to make it light up again. Finally Aunt Ratche goes out and tells us which our panel is.
Thou shall love thy neighbour.
Things at home are so absurd that it’s really a matter of choice whether you should smile or frown at them. Lukas misses his tea mug and purposefully, as it seems, chooses the most inappropriate container in the house. Then, unceremoniously, he sits in front of the absurdly small TV and watches the movies on BTV Cinema channel, expressing his annoyance at the horrible Bulgarian dubbing. They do it better in the Czech Republic, he says.
His tools are scattered all over the place. When we climb the stairs to the second floor we must go over appliances and boxes. No one complains. It’s just part of the absurdity.
Bay Stoyan – another neighbour – comes to show us how to prune vines. We’re a bit late. Traditionally, we do that on 14 February at home. You leave two buds on the branch. You cut everything else. Lukas learns fast. I take photos, collect the twigs from the ground and break them and the fresh air outside makes me pleased and at peace for the first time. Perhaps my true vocation is gardening?
Or not. Dad’s old scissors which I am using to join the pruning immediately nips my finger. It starts bleeding and after a while two completely black dots appear on its surface. I’ll be wearing them for a week.
The wood stove is in place and we can start painting the bedroom. We only have blue paint so, as much as I don’t really want, we use it. Our first night in the new bedroom smells pleasantly like latex and smoke. Why is the colour of the bedroom important when you’re only going to sleep there anyway? Right?
At home absurdity takes various shapes. It is absurd that we don’t have a scheme which shows how cables are distributed in our house. It is absurd that in our huge living room we have a tiny television set that doesn’t even have a remote control. Absurd are the shoes that Mum wears in the garden and that I wear while helping Lukas cut some wood in the basement – his new workshop.
Absurdity has some peculiar drawing power.
Absurdity is almost like a drug. Not only do you get used to it but you also start looking for it purposefully. Lukas, as much as he doesn’t admit, likes absurd stuff. I don’t that much but because it is something inseparable from him, I eventually accept it as normal. If I love him, I must love him in his entirety. Not only am I completely unable to stop my lover’s absurd ideas but I also end up helping him put them into practice.
Our bedroom lamp project takes up a whole day. Lukas, however, insists on it. We found the lamp in an old abandoned swimming pool in a Sofia district and you can never tell once it was part of a huge shining Samsung sign. While driving it towards Burgas (we only spend a day in Sofia but we also find a set of floor tiles in the street) we discuss what it may symbolize. We have all kinds of ideas but the most innocent one is that it comes from ‘sleep’ or ‘spaní’. The S is already on the ceiling of our bedroom and I pretend I like it.
Spring lies to us it has come to stay. She smiles and comes in but leaves her suitcase outside. We’re so happy to have her we don’t notice this detail. All trees are in blossom. Our dogs have stretched on the balcony, delighted, and don’t even feel like getting into trouble. When it’s warm, I am pleased to do household chores. Now I’m also happy we fixed the laundry machine so I do washing after washing and then I thread the muddy garden in Lukas’s rubber boots and hang the curtains up and the sun and wind dry them up in a few hours. The curtains are not much either. In fact, I think they look better outside than over the windows of the blue-white bedroom.
I am in love with warmth. It is very rare that I feel too hot. When the sky is light blue I feel I’m closer to the ‘gods’, gods being those invisible powers that pull the strings of my heart usually when I do something without its participation. When it’s warm and sunny the string pulling almost becomes a melody.
I spend a few hours in the greenhouse which is warm and stuffy and smells like chlorophyll. I take pleasure in sowing pepper seeds although I am not so sure what I’m doing. Everything is an experiment now. I only know I really like doing things in the garden. Well, under one condition – that it’s really warm. I think about how incredible it would be if I raised life in those yoghurt cups. If I saw that something I sowed gave a result. Isn’t that the meaning of life? To sow and reap? We’ll see. There are a lot of stages between sowing and reaping. I’m not really good at those.
Absurdity is our new best friend we didn’t even meet officially. It is a swallow that made a nest under our roof. It’s a freezing cold kitten that sought rescue, coming into our yard, that now we feel too sympathethic about to throw it away.
I hang up another pile of clothes in the room with the big windows. Lukas is in the basement and I can hear the sound of wood working machines coming out from it again. Suddenly, the afternoon peace is broken by a message coming from a loudspeaker: “Layer hens. Layer hens.” Lukas’s machines go off and I already know what will come next. I see the blue van the voice is coming from pass by our house and then I see Lukas storm out and start chasing it. I can’t stop laughing while I watch him running and screaming something in his own Bulgarian, waving arms and I watch the van not stopping. A few minutes later the van is parked at our house, its back door is slid open and I can hear caged hens cackling from inside. The Turkish guy and what seems to be his wife immediately start getting hens out although we didn’t say we wanted them. “Are we taking one?” I ask Lukas and then realize how absurd my question is. We should take at least ten, the Turk says but I resist. Eventually I realize it’s yet another case when I’ll just leave the absurd situation develop till its end. Lukas goes and finds a blue brandy barrel and then drops six hens inside. Roshko starts jumping and licking himself and I wonder what will come out of this.
I am holding a camera for the entire time and then I think: is this why absurdity goes on? Is it because instead of intervening I just document it? Suddenly I start to feel as if I have turned into a camera myself – one that only captures reality but at the same time is outside of it. In this particular moment the thought leaves me with a bitter taste.
Evenually I grow fond of the hens but not as much as Lukas does. Lukas knows how to experience things although he’s also a photographer. I wonder: if I do less documenting and more creating, will absurdity change places with harmony?
A project for the near future: work for harmony.