I had some work in the morning in the Kogalniceau Square area. I park far enough away from the clinic where I needed to be and walk. On Plevnei Street, some commercial spaces are stuck in time, with big signs from the 90’s or even before, with the words: Leather Goods; Shoe Repair. All with those hand-lettered, yellow letters on a dusty reddish background, like many shops had in the old days.

Further on, in Kogălniceanu Square, I found pretty much the same shops from when I was a student in the early 90s, perhaps interrupted by a 5 To-Go, which makes a discordant note and brings me back to the present.

An elderly woman from the countryside is selling, on the sidewalk, some plums in plastic crates, crates that I’m sure are close to the owner’s age, big tomatoes, like my grandparents had in the country, and they really do have that garden tomato smell, and some bull’s eye flowers, the likes of which I haven’t seen in years. Of course they still exist, it’s just that the sedentary in me gets out of the car in front of the flower shop, buys, and drives away. And those flower shops don’t have any bull’s-eyes, or taverns, or the lilies I used to take to my teacher when I was little, or the bushes or the cherries. Pity, I’d say, they’re all beautiful flowers.

Coming back, when I was shopping, two very old ladies came in, all dressed up, with market trolleys, as I often see in Paris. The one selling said to each of them, “Good day, lady, what are you doing? How are you today?” And the two ladies talk, respectfully to the lady with the fruit and flowers. A scene that reminded how it was 30 years ago, maybe another old woman had come from the country with fruit and flowers, maybe the ladies were different.

Ah, among them, and us language students, who poked our noses everywhere, walked so much that we knew when autumn was beginning to smell, caught the first buds of the trees, then the first leaves, and were not afraid of any rain, no blizzard.

I was glad that nothing else had changed, I could wander a little through my student life, a life I enjoyed and hold dear. On the other hand, maybe in so many years, it was nice to have some buildings restored, take care of, and become more attractive to passers-by, those who visit Bucharest and become more resistant over time.

Like these places, some people never change. I have a friend who, when someone she hasn’t seen in a while tells her that she hasn’t changed at all, replies with “I hope so, it would be really sad if it stayed the same!”
We can choose to be like my friend or like Caragiale’s character in A Lost Letter:
“Of two, let me: either to revise, I receive! But let nothing change; or let it not be revised, I accept! But then let it change here and there, namely in the essential… points.”

Georgeta Dendrino