Spelling It Out

February 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Posted in Me, Transylvania | 18 Comments
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I’m late posting today. Instead of sitting down to dash something out while the baby coughed and napped and coughed some more, I curled up on the couch with my grandmother’s afghan and my Kindle. I devoured the last 15 percent of the seventh Harry Potter book, something I’d been trying to do all weekend.

I knew how it ends. I’d read it before.

Still, I needed to see all set right in that world. Harry wins. Voldemort loses. Snape is vindicated, and Ron and Hermione finally get together. I clicked to the last page. Sated. Satisfied. Done.

But everything else? Here in Romania? Undone.

Frozen ... from the inside.

It’s still snowing. The heater in the kids’ room is still broken. And our search for decent orange juice and a few measly leaves of spinach continues.

We are still Red-Rovering our way through bureaucratic and corporate red tape, trying to figure out what to do about our improperly processed visas … and whether, if given the choice, we will stay or go. We want to stay. The painted churches, the ice hotel, Euro Disney — there’s so much still to see. But sometimes (and more often lately, if I’m honest) the lure of home calls as clearly as a good, old-fashioned land line.

Frozen waffles. Dryer sheets. Kindergarten registration. Dr. Pepper. These are the things that await us at home, not to mention family, friends, pets, and a frozen margarita or two.

Here, all that’s frozen is our windshield wipers. And the cuffs of our snow-caked jeans as we try, almost daily, to dig our car out of a new white trench.

Yesterday, it happened again. I got behind the wheel to steer as my husband pushed and cursed and sweated in the still-falling snow. The old man who takes care of our building saw me. He shouted and gestured, assuming I’d run us into the bushes.

Me, the woman, the one who’s supposed to work a stove, not a clutch.

Winter in black and white.

It could have been me. Easily. But this time? It wasn’t.

And I yearned desperately for the words to tell him so. For a society where gender expectations are slightly murkier. For, at the very least, a driveway not perpetually covered in layers of ice, frozen dog poop, and slick snow.

I think, like Harry Potter, I need a few good spells to help me prevail through this last stretch of cultural and climatic cold. I could point my wand — 13 inches, cherry, with a core of unicorn hair, probably — at the stuck car and wingardium-leviosa it right out. I could accio some dill pickles and a pack of pre-Easter Cadburys. And I could toss up some floo powder and appear, instantly, at the side of a friend who I am desperate to hug and share pancakes with.

Instead, I’m wandless. Spell-less. Still trying to learn the magic, both light and dark, of this strange place.

What Harry Potter spells would you find most useful? What would your wand be made of? And how do you reconcile the good and the bad of the place you call home?


Fluffy Bunnies in Romania:
Read the tales
See the photos.



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  1. Stacia, sweet Stacia! I have so many thoughts running through my head to share but the most prevailing is, “I miss you!” I am so glad you have books and stories to take you away even if only for a short while! I am so glad you have 3 adorable kids to hug and kiss each day and set a wonderful example for and a great supportive husband behind it all! I love and miss you! You are doing a great job!!!

  2. Right now, I could use a few spells of my own. But I’m not sure Harry Potter ever wanted to put someone into labor or sell a house or make the contractors do as they said the first time and quickly please, because I need to sell that house and I hope to go into labor. And yes. That is all my mind has on it.

    Though now, I’m thinking of you and the frozen winter, those months of burying in. And all that you have in your two worlds right now. They are both of them good worlds, like that of the muggles and hogwarts, though neither is perfect. Though a frozen margarita sounds like heaven right now.

  3. You are all over the news with your snow!!! holy cow, the photos I saw on the weather channel have you beating for snow amounts this year. Canada -1C today. 🙂

  4. Aww, I can feel your homesick-ness right through my computer screen. I can only imagine how you’re feeling. Good luck on making through either way; staying or going.

    ps. I want a Kindle.

  5. When are you set to return home? I sense the homesickness too. Hang in there. xoxo

  6. Winter does that to me too. I am most homesick after the 17th week of grey dreariness. But then spring comes and you tend to forget the gloom and smile at the cheerful blossoms smiling back at you. Of course that seems like ages from now, as you navigate the treacherous roads. Sorry my friend.

    It will get better.

  7. Sometimes, homesickness and warmsickness can make waking up difficult. Add this to snow fall, a car buried in the snow, and frozen hair and I can only imagine how frustrated all of you feel. I am glad that you have your Kindle, with Harry Potter, to send a little warmth and a virtual home to express your feelings. Sending love and lots of blankets to you and your family.

  8. I hope things work out soon. Being homesick is not easy. Hang in there 🙂

  9. ah, so sorry. I know how it is to be away from home and those you love. I hope it gets easier…somehow…soon. Wish I could mail sunshine in a box, because some would be on its way.

    Aaron enjoys the fantasy that when he turns 11 a letter might come by owl, informing him that he has been accepted into Hogwarts. He would love to cast some spells too…beginning with one for Andrew. At Aaron’s urging (he read the whole series), I am finally reading about HP and am a quarter of the way through book 4. I am enjoying it!

    sending you warm wishes.

    • Oops! I just gave some major plot points away, didn’t I? Sorry, Julie! =>

  10. Oh, I hear you! That accio spell would sure come in handy now and then!

  11. Must be an interesting experience….

  12. As much as you are enjoying your time, I imagine you are also feeling exhausted – emotionally and physically. It has to be draining. Sending you warm thoughts – and take more time to do for yourself.

  13. Hey, I know a friend who could use a hug and some pancakes! Love you!

  14. You know I’m an HP freak right? I don’t even know if I could answer this question…my wand and a spell? Hmmmm…..sending happy thoughts your way. (P.S. If you read my blog tomorrow, you’ll see I’m feeling the same. 🙂 )

  15. I’ve been away from your blog for a while 😦 (emerging now with my peak work season behind me). Even tough winters at home challenge the highest of spirits, but being far away from home will make those grey and cold days feel like eternity. I feel for you! And I wonder if you are at that point of the cross cultural cycle where you are seeing more clearly the less than ideal aspects of overseas life. Hang in there with your Kindle and i hope you can get more care packages…The winter will pass, as will these feelings right now…hugs to you!

  16. I don’t have any spells. I would spoon out some warm soup and laughter. That’s the best medicine for funky winter doldrums.

  17. Oy. I live in South Carolina. I will not be able to do this. If you were me, would you? It’s still early. I can still apply the breaks. I just don’t think I am strong enough. besides..I really don’t like to be cold even though I’m originally from Michigan.

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