February 2, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Andreea

connections

© Ioana Bîrdu

 

This project is an exercise of introspection and honesty, a way of traveling back in time to reflect on some of the moments and relationships that have a meaningful impact on our lives. Connections talks about all of us – the experiences that bring us joy or sadness, the little things we might take for granted, the people we meet.


Did you invent stories when you were a little girl? What were they about?

Of course I did and I keep doing it. When I was little I liked to play theater with my grandma because she raised me and I spent almost my entire time with her. When I woke up in the morning, I went to the kitchen where I hid behind the door while she worked. I was counting on the fact that with the radio turned up and her being caught in her work she couldn’t hear me come. But she obviously knew! Nevertheless, she played my game and walked through the kitchen as if I was invisible, which was something I loved. So I was hiding there until it seemed it was the right time to get out on the stage and surprise her. Then she exclaimed: Ionicaaa! (I’m also named Ioana after my grandfather, her husband, whom I never knew, but everybody who knew him says we are alike; I was born at approximately one year after he passed and in a way I was like her life belt, because she could direct all her love and attention towards me).

I asked her: 'you really had no idea I was there?' And she said: 'no, not at all, are you invisible?' And from that point we made up an entire dialog about my superpowers and how I could be whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and how when you have an authentic inner freedom that you develop and you believe in, nothing can stop you.

Another favorite story was with my aunt, Mariana, who, by the time I was 7, played Santa for me. Every year during the holidays she called me on the phone and asked me questions about my year and I was telling her poems, being sure that I was speaking to Santa.  She was also my partner in discussion. Whenever she came to visit us I waited for her like a real host with my plastic tea service and snacks and I spoke in an affected way just like I thought adults were acting in those kind of situations. I have many stories like these and all of them are dear to me.

What’s the most beautiful memory from your childhood?

I have many memories of my childhood, it was a joyful one! However, one of my dearest involves my grandmother, with whom, as I said, I spent the whole time until I started going to kindergarten at age 4. I love her and she is dear to me because she always acted like I was a grown up and included me in all her activities. For example, I will never forget our walk to the doctor, the same route I would later go to highschool and university, where she was going to these galvanic baths. I used to explain to the doctors why I brought my grandma to see them. And while she was getting her treatment, I was walking through the hospital talking to doctors or nurses or whoever I happened to bump into. I was a curious kid, but not a tactless one; I always wanted to understand things around me. And here I am today writing stories, and it looks like ever since those times, I naturally developed this ability to interact with people, ask them questions and try to understand them.

 

Tell me about a person who had an impact on your life. 

There are several people who were more than welcome in my life and that taught me a lot in a given period. I’m not a declarative or full of effusion person from this point of view and I don’t want to use big word such as “changed my life” because the impact a person can have in your life depends on how much you allow it. The people I would like to mention are my parents, my grandma, my childhood friends, my highschool friends who are still my friends and Stephan, who is my mirror. Meeting him two years ago made me feel, for the first time, that I wasn’t alone. Alone in the sense that I wasn’t the only one seeing things the way I do. And this brought me comfort and joy, a state of wellbeing that stays with you whether that person is close to you or not.

Professionally, the majority of people I’ve worked with were people who taught me a lot, who believed in me and who sometimes gave me more responsibility greater than I thought I deserved and for that I thank them!   

What did you learn from your past relationships?

How much time do you have to read it all? Either way, I will shorten all my learnings in a well-known quote: “Never do to others what you wouldn't have them do to you”.  In a nutshell I self-educated to take each person as she is and not try to project on her my needs or expectations because it’s unrealistic.

Although many of us have a tendency to exaggerate the image of others for the better or for the worse, most of them are pretty clear in their intentions, throughout their behavior and not their words. This happens because we are often led by the most powerful instincts that we have in us, fear and desire for self-preservation. If you learn to read people, read their behavior and the words behind their words, everything becomes easier!

Did a stranger do anything nice for you?

Yes, many times! There are small gestures that reveal someone’s goodwill and I always appreciate them. For example, being allowed to pass in front of someone in a supermarket queue when they have a bag full of groceries while I only have a bottle of water. Or those moments when I wait at the pedestrian crossing on a rainy day and see a car coming my way slowing down so that I won’t get sprayed with dirt while it passes me. I notice all these things and say thank you in my mind every single time.

What about the other way around, did you do anything nice for a stranger?

Yes, I also did nice things for others. The most frequent one is feed the people who need it. If I go to a restaurant with my friends and there are leftovers I always ask to have it as take away and later give it to someone on the street. I hate wasting food and there is always someone who needs it and it’s such a simple gesture to do. It’s a thing I encourage!

When in your life did you feel most alone?

I am someone who functions very well on her own and I don’t usually suffer from loneliness, I actually enjoy solitude the vast majority of time. I like reading and writing and think about what’s important to me and to my life. And yet, I felt alone two times during my childhood: when one holiday, the hotel elevator went up several floors with only me inside and one summer holiday, at the seaside when the small inflatable boat I was standing in got carried away. My parents still say that I was barely moved by the wave a few feet, but I was downright terrified and I'll never forget the strong feelings of helplessness and fear I had.

Oh, and there’s one more. When I was 10 I woke up one morning and heard my mother crying and I knew my grandma died (one day before she had a heart attack and got admitted to hospital). I felt alone because I knew a very important person in my life was gone and I was never going to see her again.  

Andrea, 30 years old

Want to be part of this project? Send me your answers at ioanabirdu@gmail.com

April 5, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Rodrigo

Sometimes we go through experiences that overwhelm us. We feel alone and helpless, or need someone to share the little things that bring us joy. Other times we rush into judging others without knowing them or having any idea about the things they’ve been through.

I started Connections in a time when my life didn’t look very colorful or happy and it served as a self therapeutic exercise. Then more people got hooked into it and I decided to take it further.

This project is an exercise of introspection and sincerity, a way of traveling back in time to reflect on some of the moments and relationships that put a mark on our lives. Connections talks about all of us – the experiences that bring us joy or sadness, the little things we might take for granted, the people we meet.

It’s a project that continues to do me good and I hope you’ll get something good out of it as well.

*

Did you use to invent stories when you were little? What were they about?

I used to play with action figures, mixed with all the toys. Building huge cities across the house. My parents’ legs covered by mattresses was mountains, hills. The track in the carpets, roads. Other thing about inventing stories I would like to point out. The video games was pretty.... simple. And added to this, there was the fact that they were in English. My friends and I barely understood its stories or mechanics, so we INVENTED, and I mean, A LOT. So someone, for example, invented that in a motorcycle game, there was a trick that you would be able to enter in a house and have a lunch and sleep a little.
We all tried for weeks to do the trick. Back in my memory, there was a whole world inside those games. It is with a bit of melancholia feeling that I look back to those games in emulators to see that most of the fun was just in our heads.

What’s the most beautiful memory from your childhood?
The infinite freedom in the afternoons with street friends. Dirt roads, bicycles by our feet.

Tell me about a person who had an impact on your life.
A history teacher, who taught there was many views for the same reality. He gave me a copy of "Chariots of the Gods?" by  Erich von Däniken. I think there I earned the right to be curious.

What did you learn from your past relationships?
There is no free-ride when you talk about relationships. The persons involved will be touched and marked, somehow. And I don't see it in a pessimist perspective, by the contrary, there lies the beauty of it.

Did a stranger do something nice for you?
I cannot remember anytime where someone helped me, without me asking first for help. Usually I like to be in the other side, being the stranger who helps.

Did you do something nice for a stranger?
Often. I like how people react with disbelief at random acts of kindness. There is some kind of magical, humane touch in it.

When in your life did you feel most alone?
At night, after college or work, in a daily commute, at rush hours. I believe it is that small period where all the hopes of the day where lost and new one did not born yet.

Rodrigo, 28 years old

*Want to be part of this project? Send me your answers at ioanabirdu@gmail.com*

February 2, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Duncan

Sometimes we go through experiences that overwhelm us. We feel alone and helpless, or need someone to share the little things that bring us joy. Other times we rush into judging others without knowing them or having any idea about the things they’ve been through.

I started Connections in a time when my life didn’t look to colorful or happy and it served as a self therapeutic exercise. Then more people got hooked into it and I decided to take it further.

This project is an exercise of introspection and sincerity, a way of traveling back in time to reflect on some of the moments and relationships that put a mark on our lives. Connections talks about all of us – the experiences that bring us joy or sadness, the little things we might take for granted, the people we meet.

It’s a project that continues to do me good and I hope you’ll get something good out of it as well.

*

Did you use to invent stories when you were little?

Playfully, yes. I miss the fact that the stories I would make up cross boundaries - into space and the past and the present, knights and aliens and whatever I could get my hands on. That’s interesting to me, rather than the nostalgia for toys of the past which are linked to the future with some ideal about learning to code. It’s the imagination and creativity which went into whiling away the hours. Childhood is a magical time, in the sense that nothing is grounded in reality - when you’re little you don’t really have a grounded sense of time and place, so inventing stories is part of the process of figuring out what’s really happening.

One game I played was about watching a small figure running alongside us in the car, where I sat in the back with my brother, staring out the window and seeing this figure jumping on walls, around people, over street signs, always racing to keep up with us. I think a lot of people saw that too. I don’t remember what stories I made up though - no characters from that time have survived the transition from childhood to adulthood, and I miss that.

What’s the most beautiful memory from your childhood?

Watching my father come home through the window in our living room. He travelled a lot, first as a sailor and later in a job which I didn’t fully understand, but which often seemed to take him to the middle east, or America. I remember him coming home, and simultaneously not knowing who he was whilst unquestionably knowing he was my father.

Tell me about a person who changed/influenced your life.

There are two - years ago when I was lost and in need of some direction. I went to an art college and the two English teachers there somehow managed to shape me into something worthwhile. It's the classic one-teacher-you-never-forget, except I was lucky enough to have two of them. Both held a passion for what they did, and I know I probably made them question that a few times, but they instilled something valuable in me, and I'll always be grateful that they were able to look deeper than anything else before, and see a way to make me stand for for things I believed in.

I revisit those days quite often, but I hadn't realised it until I answered this question. I don't really know how to spot talent, or how to nurture and develop it, but I feel like they did and that kept me going for a long time.

What did you learn from your past relationships?

That I can be distant and uncommunicative.

Did a stranger do something nice for you?

Ah, there are so many people I could mention. There are so many low-level moments of kindness, but I love those as much as the grand gestures. As someone who's travelled for work quite intensely, I've come to appreciate the small acts of kindness from strangers in strange places as much as anything else.

The one which sticks in my mind is from last summer, arriving back in London on a delayed flight. Helping another lost traveller get home when the trains had stopped running, then finding myself in the back of a taxi with very little money. That taxi driver took pity on me and drove me all the way home even though I couldn't afford it. It's late at night, I'm broke and someone goes out of their way to get me home, I wouldn't say it restored my faith in people, but it made me feel good about wanting to always believe in people.

Did you do something nice for a stranger?

Once, when I was smaller, I remember walking with my mother and finding something on the floor. It was money, I knew it was something important. She picked it up and we'd found a £50 note. We were standing outside of a funeral parlour too, so a sad story pretty much wrote itself there and then. We handed the money in and heard nothing back, but I hope that action was received by someone who needed it.

When in your life did you feel most alone?

When I was trying to figure out who I was. Or rather, which person I wanted to be, of all people who were an option. There’s no-one who can make that decision for you. As I grew into adulthood I remember being overwhelmingly scared and I resisted for a long time. Looking back, I was lucky to have the time and the ability to make those choices, and to a certain degree my hesitance meant that a lot of options became closed off very quickly.

There's a difference between being alone and being lonely. I could be alone for a long time and often I'll need that. But a little bit of loneliness goes a very long way, and I'd do most anything to avoid that.

Duncan, 41 years old

*Want to be part of this project? Send me your answers at ioanabirdu@gmail.com*