April did not entirely go as planned – I am grateful for the sudden turns, even when some of them were painful.
First days (01 – 03.04)
Elina and I went on a walk in the park to do our mentor work – we talked about the general direction I want my career to take. I want to create a community around the things I hold dear. Jekabs and I began planning a celebration trip to Ventspils for all of my high school achievements for the following weekend but that fell through because his schedule got really tight.
I think there might be ghosts in the Youth House because of how drained I feel after spending some time there. I enjoy the work and thus do not think it’s the reason for my tiredness.
One of these days, Elina lent me a mold remover and I got to work cleaning the bathroom until it returned to its original white sparkly color. That was so satisfying.
First week (04 – 10.04)
Monday was a relatively lazy day, in which I finished a part of the March in Latvia article.
On Tuesday, I glazed the inside of the ceramic mug I was working on, so it is actually functional now. A little girl talked to me in Latvian and I answered whenever I could, smiling as an excuse when I couldn’t and asking the ceramics teacher to translate when she was free. In the evening, Lotta came running to the Youth House, so we can chat – I’m so grateful for her. <3 After work, Jekabs and I hung out, and he let me spill all of my overthinking about the new volunteer arriving and the ghosts at the Youth House.
On Wednesday was my last Latvian class – it was nice. It came as a surprise because both Linda, my teacher, and I thought I had one more. Later, I went to a sewing class. I liked it and got to experience multilingualism first-hand – the teacher was talking to me in Russian with some Latvian words thrown in there, the surrounding youngsters were talking in Russian or Latvian, or both, and if someone approached me, it was often in English. My head was about to explode as I was picking up words here and there but nothing coherent, and was rendered completely mute thanks to the mix of unfamiliar languages. However, I made myself a shopping bag and found a dance buddy, with whom to participate in the Open Stage on the 6th of May!! The same day I chatted with my dad for a bit, played games with Jekabs, Ance, and my dance buddy at the youth house, and hung out with Elina.
This week I wrote chapters 12 and 13 of Confessions of a woman in love, which were a difficult reflection of my past. I feel like I need to take a break from writing this and that is what I have been doing for the past month as the following chapters are still tender painful memories.
On Friday, my dance buddy and I learned 10 seconds of the choreography from Taemin’s Advice in almost two hours… That’s a veeery fast dance. :O We had fun though and I was sore the next day. That day I also had a call with a friend, a Bulgarian lesson with Elina, and a short hang out with Jekabs before I got home and relaxed.
Saturday was a cleaning and chilling with Jekabs day. He showed me some of his drawings, and he’s pretty good at it. On Sunday, the weather was nice and sunny, so I went on a walk in the park, and hugged a tree, after which Elina and I did some mentor work and talked about how nervous I was about Manuel’s arrival.
Second week (11 – 17.04)
On Monday, I renewed Bulgarian lessons with one of my former students – he still remembers how to read for the most part and it was nice catching up. Elina and I went to buy lipstick and face masks to treat ourselves. The same evening I caught up with a friend and enjoyed a Korean face mask.
On Tuesday, Diana came to pick up Olena’s stuff and I kept cleaning. Apparently organizing and cleaning things make me feel less nervous and sad. I was upset that Olena couldn’t finish her project because of such a terrifying reason as the war in her home country. We keep in touch from time to time, and she is doing alright, for which I’m grateful and happy. In the afternoon, I went to the ceramics workshop, where two boys started chatting with me. One was translating Latvian to Russian, so I can understand, I was trying whenever I could to respond in Russian, and when I couldn’t, I was resorting to English and gestures. 😀 It was a lot of fun as I was trying to make a tree, which ended up looking like a monster as the boys described it.
At the Youth House, I became the personal therapist of a youngster, and we discussed personal development and relationships, and how they intersect – it was a very interesting conversation. In the evening, we went on a walk with Jekabs and talked about some personal fears.
An intercultural event was planned for Wednesday – comparative egg painting; it didn’t happen. But! The girls told me to bring a painted egg, which I did, and they introduced me to Latvian Easter traditions. There is a game with a wooden slide for eggs, where you let your egg fall and compete who can ‘catch’ the most eggs by hitting other people’s. Latvians apparently also fight with eggs, and mine won a few times! It was very fun, Ance gifted each of us a very cute bunny-looking package with candies. After that, I finished the translation of the March in Latvia article and went to the sewing class, where I met a new friend.
On Thursday, Manuel texted me throughout the day to let me know how far along his journey he is. I was just plain nervous, as we are going to spend the rest of the year sharing the apartment and working together. Diana, her boyfriend, and I picked him up from the bus station in Liepaja in the early evening. I showed him where the supermarket is, we had dinner and then talked for most of the night.
On Friday, Jekabs came by to gift me a sweet postcard, wishing me a nice time in Bulgaria and a happy Easter. I packed my bag and showed Manuel around Liepaja, while we looked for a thick jacket for him – the weather difference between South Italy and Latvia is not easy on the body.
Saturday morning I woke up early to catch my bus to Riga as I had my flight to Bulgaria then. Manuel got up with me and walked me to the bus station, which was so nice of him. The rest of the day I spent napping in busses or on planes, reading a Wattpad book in the airports, and texting with friends until I landed at 22.30is in Sofia. The drive back home with my family was nice, my brother fell asleep hugging my arm. <3
I spent Sunday making the schedule for my visit – when am I meeting who and how am I helping with my brother’s birthday party. My day also included taking a shower and hanging out with my family.
Third week (18 – 24.04)
In Bulgaria, time felt frozen. The energy of the space was so intense – I thought I entered a personal/spiritual growth pressure cooker.
This was the first time I went home without going to Varna, which was a kind of relief. A bit disappointing was the fact that my dad flew out the day I flew in – I couldn’t go see him. I spent most of my days in Stamboliyski, where my parents bought a house last year, and I went to Plovdiv, whenever I was meeting a friend. I caught some good weather and shot a reel of Plovdiv for the YH’s Instagram.
On the 21st was my brother’s birthday – he celebrated at the house. I helped in the morning with the snack preparation and hung out for a while with the guests (parents and 10-years-olds). The party went on from 2ish to 22-22.30, so at some point, I took refuge in my room. Manu called me to ask about something in the house, we got talking, and soon enough two of the girls came into my room. They introduced themselves to Manu, started doing my hair, and wanted our attention. With that, my room turned into the VIP English-speaking, wardrobe-storming zone.
On Sunday was the Orthodox Easter. My mom hosted 2 cousin families in our new-ish home as a belated housewarming, which was great fun for all… but me. You couldn’t guess why. 🙄
In Bulgaria, there’s a saying that if on Easter you eat a whole egg you’ll get boils on your ass. I didn’t eat a whole egg but a few days before the holiday, I got the second part of the saying. Just my luck. Couldn’t sit or move because of the pain. Couldn’t take a shower. I could only lay on my stomach for almost a week. Soooo booooringgg!! And my lower back hurt because of it, whiine. My family danced, sang karaoke, and talked, while I annoyed Manuel on video chats 😀 I did get to join in for a few songs after I took a painkiller and shocked everyone that I now sing decently! 🥳 From time to time my cousin would keep me company and I managed to join everyone in going to the church at midnight on Easter, which is a tradition we had never before kept.
I was supposed to fly back to Latvia on the 26th but because I couldn’t sit, I changed my flight to the 4th of May.
Fourth week (25 – 01.05)
This week I was recovering from the boils, so I mostly laid on my bed, daydreamed, and virtually hung out quite a bit with Manuel. When I felt better, I would go to my family and stand around them, help with chores, and look out at the view of the Rhodopi mountains.
This week I was supposed to go to Jekabs’ first gig for the year with his band, so I was disappointed I couldn’t go. I listened to their first released single on Spotify though – they’re good! Check them out here:
On Saturday, the person that I cut off communication with and wrote about in December texted me at some point this week – that made me angry as I was hoping for that for months, and when it happened, it was nothing more than a ‘how are you?’. I don’t understand small talk with people you’ve said you don’t want any sort of relationship with, be it platonic or romantic. I decided to not answer, as I gave him plenty of my energy and thoughts in the last few months and have finally been able to move on from my own illusory hopes and daydreams. This is something I am proud of – I set my own boundaries of what attitude and behavior I will accept from the people around me, and I managed to enforce them with myself. Progress! I talked out the situation with a few friends, but I’ve noticed that I need to write it out in order to truly release it.
On Sunday, I could already sit and a friend I couldn’t see earlier came by – my mom made pancakes and we hung out on the veranda. I packed my bag again as on Monday I went to Sofia to see my cousin again and to stay over at a friend’s, who lives kind of close to the airport.
Emotionally, mentally, and spiritually throughout the month
I’ve been feeling a bit depleted this month, as a big manifestation came in with Manuel.
The first half of the month I was overthinking Manuel’s arrival because from our chats and video calls we had clicked very well, and as a romantic, I kind of got carried away in my hopes and dreams of building a life with my person, wondering if that’s Manuel. In January, when I heard of the possible war breaking out between Ukraine and Russia, I began manifesting my person to come to this project with me if Olena decides to go home. So my mind was freaking out, wondering if that was actually possible and happening.
In the second half of the month, I felt calmer because I got my answer, which I do not intend to share here yet. As I said, time in Bulgaria felt frozen, and my 3 weeks there moved both ridiculously slow and flew past me. I felt like I was calibrating to a new reality – I realized that Bulgaria is not my place at this time. That hit me straight in the gut as it was a sudden realization first about Plovdiv, then about the country. I don’t know where my life is leading me, but I am trying to surrender to it and trust it while taking care of myself and my close ones.
I’m noticing I am becoming more uncompromising when it comes to the people in my life, as well as more direct and honest – my mom commented that I am being extreme and harsh about it, that most people aren’t like me. This is another new discovery for me: I don’t care anymore if I will fit in and be accepted by the majority. I feel comfortable alone, standing out, and I prefer to enjoy the people around me rather than put up a fake facade just to be a part of a group. Honestly, my energy and awareness can be used in much better ways than anxiously overthinking why people reject me – for example, I can focus on the relationships, where there is a common direction and understanding, and where mutual acceptance thrives.
I really enjoyed the time and calls with my friends. I’m so happy we reach out to each other and keep in contact. One of the biggest blessings in my life right now is exactly these close relationships – I am so, so grateful for them. <3
That’s it for me for April – check back in around the 15th of June to see how my May in Latvia went! Spoiler: I’ve got so many social activities planned. 👀