I grew up in a small town in post-communist Eastern Europe, where, as a local song puts it, “there is not much to do besides falling in love”. The next best thing was to hear your friends tell you: “Let’s meet at the Ball.”

Located in the heart of the town, the Ball is a crumbling skeleton of a spherical-shaped former fountain. But for many people it’s a special place. It’s the ultimate meeting venue, where restless young men smoke nervously while waiting for their dates, loud groups of friends gather before going to a party on a Friday night, (not-so) shy couples cuddle on one of the dilapidated benches scattered around the fountain…and then it was us - me and my friend Ralitsa. We met first year of high school and through the years we became best friends.

We’d meet at the Ball, take a stroll on the Main Street – yes, every self-respected small town has one of those – have coffee and chat. And by chatting, I mean talking for hours.

Now we’re ten years older – and hopefully a bit wiser – but still as hungry to re:discover the world as before.

This time we meet at the Cube at Astor Place. We’d take a stroll around the East Village, go to brunch and chat. And by chatting I mean stealing some hours for ourselves despite the craziness of our schedules.

I’m greeting Ralitsa with a hug, book in hand. She apologizes for being late. Again. She blames me for being bad influence, saying that it’s an old habit of mine she picked up back then when we used to meet at the Ball.

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Boryana Dzhambazova

Freelance Journalist

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