Life has changed pretty dramatically (by Bulgarian village standards) since I last wrote. Elly came back from England on Tuesday and brought the sunshine with her. We have gotten so much done since she came back and the garden is a thousand different shades of green dotted with bright spots of color. Cassie, one of the eight cats, is pregnant and due any minute now. She is acting very strangely, her belly is almost touching the ground and there are some interesting liquids coming out of her backside. We keep googling cat pregnancy to see what is normal and what isnt, but it isnt entirely clear.
The biggest change, however, arrived yesterday in the form of a man named Malcolm. He is from England as well and is looking to buy a house in the village and staying here while Elly shows him some places. I am not sure if I have mentioned it here, but Elly and Kathy run a real estate agency (of sorts) in the village and keep a website for foreigners wanting to buy some of the houses in Voditsa and Osikovo (the village down the road). There are about 300 empty houses in the village and they range from 1,000$ to 10,000$- a serious deal. Malcolm is just the next in a long line of, mostly British people, wanting to leave their lives in the UK and start an alternative lifestyle here. There are already about 20 or so homes in the village owned by Brits, and more and more seem to be inquiring every day.
It is an interesting twist in the story actually and I have been thinking a lot about it. The village is essentially being abandoned by Bulgarians leaving who want to go the big city and pursue the capitalist dream. Meanwhile, its being reinhabited by people who happen to have been born with intrinsic access to that dream, but find it lacking something. Enough so that many have pulled their kids out of school, sold their stuff and moved to Bulgaria. When you ask them why they did it, you get a lot of interesting answers. Elly said she liked the idea of having a place in the world that is hers. If, or when, the entire Western world falls apart, she will have a place where she can grow her own food and survive and live happily. Another woman, Lisa, who lives here with her boyfriend and daughter, said she knew she had to leave when she heard her 6 year old daughter singing a raunchy Rhianna song. When she asked her where she heard that, her daughter said she didnt know. It was at that moment, she claimed, she realize all of the subliminal messaging we are exposed to and she didnt want that for her kids.
So are the Bulgarians who left any happier? I am not convinced they are. Materialism and consumerism here is rampant, people are obsessed with the things they knew they could never have before and are now available on every street cornor. They are constantly plugged into something- phone, ipod, computer, walking by signs that tell them the next thing they need to buy to be beautiful or thin or happy. The girls weigh 90 pounds, wear 5 inch heels, the newest clothes and hollywood style make up and hair but look miserable. I dont think there is a right or wrong way to live in general, but something inside of me is telling me that I need to figure out what feels right or wrong for me.
It's tempting you know? My days here are full of stress-free but hard and satisfying work. We take long lunch and dinner breaks with fesh, good food from the garden, drinking wine in the afternoons while laying and reading on the lawn and listening to music. The garden looks really beautiful listening to Ben E. King. The space in my head that used to be full of a schedule I felt I needed to keep, the plans I needed to make for the future, the need to seem "busy" and "productive", has given way to an imagination I havent had since I was a little kid and openess toward ideas that seemed out of the realm of possibility before. After three months of living this way, I still have moments where I feel guilty though. Aren't I supposed to be pursuing a career? Shouldn't I go somewhere, buy something today, run an errand? When was the last time I showered or, I dont know, looked in a mirror? Can this be a life or only a vacation?
I left the US trying to see if there was another way of living because, after leaving Washington D.C., I felt like there had to be more. Something was missing for me. When you find it and see that, in fact, there is a whole other way of living life that is totally different from what is deemed "normal" and "correct" in our culture, it throws you for a loop- because I like it, it feels good. I find myself wondering- could I do this, is it ok to do this?
Someone once told me that the secret to happiness was finding comfort in the fact that you are part of a greater pattern. But my question now is, what pattern do I want to be a part of?
Still heady in Bulgaria,