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.
A few more days
A final Hi meeting
The local neighborhood bar has a quiet time between six and nine. It is a place that specializes in coffee, beer and seasonal menus. There is just enough of each for a satisfying snack and effective buzz. After the time when the laptop lids close and before the social gatherings start -- there is a sort of twilight*. Often this time is a fugitive ground rife with creative inspiration and meditative work -- of the kind that results in personal reward.*twilight may refer to civil, nautical or astronomical variety depending on your social or terrestrial condition
A man positions his mouse on the edge of his browser window. He clicks, holds and drags the viewport first left then right. The content of a video game promo micro site responds and adapts to the available space. To the man, this is more delightful than the game itself.
A man laboriously moves his piano down three levels onto the subway platform. Classic vocals and strided chords -- he played so well I swore he was blind. Oblivious to the heat on that August stage, he was most in touch with his audience -- whom he elevated with his music.
A woman should do exactly as she pleases no matter what a man may think.
As the Dalai Lama once said, "It is a time when there is much in the window, but nothing in the room."
"No one understands me," she said. Her grandmother was silent for a minute. It seemed she was searching for an answer in the star speckled sky. "But no one understands anyone in this world, darling. We are all unique. It is what gives us a sense of wonder."