June 16, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Connections – Vlad

connections Ioana Birdu

© Ioana Bîrdu

Connections is an exercise of introspection and honesty, a way of traveling back in time to reflect on some of the moments and relationships that had a meaningful impact on our lives.

Connections talks about us all – the experiences that bring us joy or sadness, the little things we might take for granted, the people we meet.


Did you make up stories when you were a little boy? What were they about?

I did, beginning with kindergarten although I can’t remember those. When I got to school, they were about everything or anything as long as I had an audience. I told the best ones to my friend, Big Sorin, who was mesmerised and kept asking questions about them.

I was usually the main character and I was either fighting sharks on the Danube or saving people from all kinds of bad things. As a sign of gratitude for the stories, Big Sorin defended me from Little Sorin, who always called me a liar and tried to attack me in different ways.

The best thing is that a few years ago I met Big Sorin again and his first question was if I remember how I used to tell him stories on our way home from school. 🙂

What’s the most beautiful memory from your childhood?

The first one. I can’t let go of if no matter what I do. It happened when I was around two or three years old and lived with my grandparents. I lived there until I turned five or six.

It was a snowless winter and the sun had teeth (that's what they said, but I swear I never saw the sun having any teeth). I was all wrapped up in clothes and climbing down the stairs of my grandparent’s house. When I got close to the garden I heard my mother’s voice calling me. I couldn’t see her too well because the I had the sun playing in my eyes, but I sensed her there. I remember her smiling and talking to me and she wore some brown, bell-bottom trousers, left overs from the 70’s probably. I went to  her and all I remember is I was happy. That’s all.

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

George whom I met when I finished college. At our first beer together - I was going through a period of complete disorientation at the time - I found myself in front of a thirty something year old having the profound sensation that I’m being read as an open book, but in a way that made me feel no threat. And I’m not joking: that person knew all there was to know about me in five minutes.

George changed my life because he was the first person who saw something in me and helped me become more confident. The third time we went out for a beer I found out he worked at RIS (Romanian Intelligence Service) and that he actually was or used to be a spy. This explained some things :).

What have you learnt from your past relationships?

The difference between a monologue and a conversation.

Did a stranger do something nice for you?

Most certainly yes, but I can’t recall a story. What I can undoubtedly say is that I learnt to thank without trying to understand why a stranger did something nice for me.

Did you do something nice for a stranger?

I usually remember these things when the other person stops being a stranger.

When in your life did you feel most alone?

Loneliness is something hard only when you feel alone among people. Otherwise, until a certain point we are all alone. We take part in longer or shorter conversations and conversations lead to connections. The reason  you gather all of us here.

Vlad, 35 years old


Want to be part of this project? Just answer the same questions and send them to ioanabirdu@gmail.com

May 18, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Barrie

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 a little boy? What were they about?

Not that my old brain will remember.

What’s the most beautiful memory from your childhood?

My best memories date back to 9 months living on my grandfather’s farm when my Dad was away. I was young but everything is vivid – if I had to pick one, sitting on my Grandpa’s lap while he drove the tractor; he let me steer and I thought I was driving!

Tell me about a person who changed/influenced your life

I had a senior military boss who gave me an opportunity to flourish and the belief that I could do well. The best mentor I ever had.

What did you learn from your past relationships?

Life is too short to be unhappy – sometimes you need to be brave and set off on your own to find the freedom to be happy. Sometimes, that is a selfish – but necessary – thing to do.

Did a stranger do something nice for you?

Not yet – how cool would that be?

Did you do something nice for a stranger?

I always try to buy a coffee for people I see on the street and offer a few coins and some words of encouragement/a listening ear.

When in your life did you feel most alone?

When I separated from the mother of my children … it was the right thing to do for the adults – but I ache still at the lost time with my children.

 Barrie, 50 years (32 in my heart)

*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*