Nostalgia – part 1

The following is not a story about first love and first kisses, but a story about people who have the talent to leave visible traces in our lives with a very little effort… It’s a story about why I’ve always had a weakness for green eyes, men in army uniforms, Freddie Mercury’s music and Damian Damianov’s poetry.

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I was born and raised in a small town in South Bulgaria, near the border with Greece, where most of the time if you didn’t know what you did, the rest of the town for sure knew. My parents were/ and still are/ respected and well known by everyone, citizens and it was a “must” that I had to follow their example. I was a good girl, most of the time, even when the hidden, wild-rebel ideas inside of me collided with real life, provoking me, I always made the effort to remain a good daughter.

I was almost 17 years old when I first fell in love. Toma and his family had just moved to town in the house opposite ours; it was a hot, summer night in July when I first saw him from my window, shirtless and sun-tanned, with cute, disheveled, light-brown, wet hair. I don’t know how you’ve all accepted the first signs of love and if you still remember these moments, but back then, I was sure that the glow in my heart  lighted the whole neighborhood, and I sure still remember the awfully, strong presence of the hundreds butterflies battling fiercely in my stomach and my knees made out of jelly. The two sets of curtains and the ten meters pavement between us were not meant to be an obstacle for a very long time. Few days later I found out that Toma was the new centre forward player of the football team in our town and last year student just like me.

My dad and my brother were involved in all the activities related to the football team/dad was a part of the administration and my brother was a junior player/  and on weekends I used to go with them to the stadium and play tennis on the courts next to the football field. The day when I saw Toma again I couldn’t play, rain poured down suddenly. I ran to the stadium to leave my tennis bag with my dad and to tell him that I will go to Mimi’s house/ Mimi- my high-school girlfriend/.  As I was leaving the stadium, there he was, standing by the gates, neglecting the drops of rain, and the idea of passing by him made me feel nauseous, but I confidently walked towards him, only to see him blocking the doorway with his hand. Needn’t to say that being young and inexperienced was the worse that could happen to a girl in love. He gloated over my confusion for a moment and then spoke:

‘How would you like if you and I see a movie tonight, after training here? That of course if you’re not busy staring at your naked neighbors!’
Not only he was a witness to a moment of weakness that I had, but there was this terrible feeling that I was made out of the most transparent nylon and he saw everything that I tried to hide. My reaction was to push his hand and to tell him to stay away, but he didn’t seem to be bothered and shouted after me:
‘7 pm. I’ll be waiting at the cinema, every night from now on, until you come.’
I didn’t go on the first night and on the second either, but I sent my brother to spy for me and tell me if he really waited; and when my brother came back, twice, with a positive answer, on the third night I went to meet him.

A week after, Toma asked me to be his girlfriend and I said “yes” without a hesitation. I didn’t have an idea what that meant, but it felt really great and the butterflies in my stomach were no longer intruders, but tiny sparkles that kept me happy. September came and school started, we walked together every morning, he held my books, kept a chair next to him at lunch break, called me “gorgeous” in the hallways of the school, demonstrating shamelessly his part as a boyfriend and at the football games on Sunday, every time he scored a goal, he shouted:’ That’s for you, baby!’ Everything was beautiful at that time and I was happy, even the fact that my parents didn’t like him very much didn’t disturb me. There was one little cloud that sometimes kept me worried and awake, we were together for nearly five months and he hadn’t kissed me yet. He always had his hands on me, hugging me, like he never wanted us to be apart, but his kisses were brief, on the cheeks or the forehead, like I was his sister. In movies people in love had passionate kisses and I couldn’t stop wondering why I didn’t have one yet?

All this made me suspicious, a little sad at times. It was like having a bar of a delicious chocolate, but never to taste, only to look at and dream about, and I was way too proud to dare and make the first move. The shadows of my unanswered questions made me listen and look around and soon I saw that not everything was made out of honey and rose petals. The goals at the games that were supposedly only for me, were apparently for half of the girls on that stadium/ some of them close girlfriends/ and the magical walks back home after every game were magical only because I didn’t know that Toma dedicated the rest of his nights to other girls, different each time and from the rumors, the dedication included more than brotherly kisses and hugs. But being only 16, I was allowed to be late out only on Fridays and Saturdays when my girlfriends and I went to a disco club and at midnight, I had to be at home, in bed. Toma rarely came to that club on the days I was there, his excuse was that he needed a rest for the Sunday game and silly me, never thought that it was all a big, fat lie. Innocence, a virtue that could easily lead you to a broken heart and I had a soul full with it.

It was one December Saturday, a week before my birthday, when Toma and his friends came to the disco club, but things had been slightly cold between us for the past couple of weeks and he flirted with other girls openly, in front of me. We used to stay on a table away from the dancing floor, in the corner with dim lights. Not only the table had velvet sofas to sit on around, but it was big enough to fit all of us girls and the music there wasn’t that loud. Toma danced with a different girl with the change of every song and I felt miserable, sitting at the very deep end of the sofa, where no one could see my sadness. Few of my class-mates came to ask me to dance but I politely declined. My girlfriends tried to make me smile, but I told them that I needed a break, so at some point I was left all alone on the table. Five or six soldiers sat on the table next to ours that night. They were from the army base two kilometers out of town and you could often see them in the club or in the coffee shops on weekends. Most of them were at least five years older than us and we didn’t avoid them, but simply kept a distance. Many times we danced together or exchanged trivial greetings, but that was it.

I didn’t notice that something was up on their table at first, but when four of them came one after another to offer me a drink or a dance I woke up from the sad thoughts and patiently waited for the next one of them to come. Ten minutes after his friend left with my “No”, he sat next to me, which caught my attention immediately, none of his friends did, and said:

‘Hi, my name is Borislav. How are you tonight?’
‘Before you ask, the answers is “no”, so don’t waste your time!’
‘Hmm, and how would you know what I am about to ask you?’
‘I assume the same as your soldier friends who stopped by before you! Not that difficult to guess!’
‘Well …’, I didn’t let him to finish the sentence, I moved towards him and looked him straight in the eyes.
‘So what did you bet?’
His hands reached the camouflaged cap on his head, almost ashamed and he laughed.
‘Pretty and smart! I like it!’
‘That doesn’t answer my question, what did you bet?’
He leaned on the sofa next to me, lifted his hands behind his head as in surrendering and said:
‘The first to have a dance or a drink with you, gets the car that we all share, exclusively, for a month.’

A little satisfaction about being right that there was something going on cheered me up, but I wasn’t through with the questions yet.
‘Why me?’
‘We’ve been watching you for the past two hours, at least five of them, poor boys, left your sight with a disappointment on the face, we wanted to see if you were saying “no” in general or you just can’t dance. The prettiest girl in the club  should be on the dancing floor, not here alone!’
‘If I was that pretty as you say, I would’ve been dancing with the one that I like.’
He came closer to me and whispered: ‘Is he the one with No 9 labeled on his shirt?’
‘How did you know?’, I jumped surprised that I was so obvious to strangers.
“There are holes on his back, which I’m sure will be a perfect match to the size and the shape of your eyes. But anyway, what is so special about him?’
‘He is my boyfriend.’, I said with a hint of doubt about the statement that I just made.
‘Is this what you do when he behaves like an ass? Isolating yourself from all the fun around? You might as well stick a note on your chest ” I’m about to commit a suicide in the name of love!”
‘Oh, yeah! And what does a smart you suggest that I should do?’
‘Dance, look happy, even if it hurts like hell inside of you, show him that you don’t give a damn.’

‘Ha! You want that car really bad, don’t you?’
‘And that, but mostly I want to dance with you!’
‘Next Saturday, with the car that you will win tonight, you will drive me and my girlfriend to Smolyan/ town 20 km away from my town/ to see a movie that they won’t show in our cinema and you can have the next dance right now!’
‘Only if I can bring a friend along.’
‘Then, let us dance!’
And for a first time Freddie Mercury and “Too much love will kill you” had the most wonderful sound. Borislav held me in his arms like a man who had just found the woman of his life and there was a triumph and a spice in the rhythm of the music, in the camouflage colors of his uniform and in the way his green eyes shined…



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© 2012  Broken Sparkles