I have a vivid memory, from when I was a kid, of eating a chocolate.
I was sitting on my bed and the black and white TV was turned on, showing something that presented something of little interest to me.
Chocolate was a big deal.
In Eastern Europe, chocolate was something of a currency. You would give chocolate and coffee to a doctor or a nurse so you’ll be sure you get proper treatment in a hospital.
So there I was, sitting on my bed, happily eating my chocolate. I must have been 7 or 8 years old.
My mom and dad enter the frame and smile while asking me a straight down to business question:
“Bogdan, do you want a little brother or sister?”
I, to this day, have no information about the politics behind the question or who was on what side of the argument.
But by the presence of chocolate in my hands someone must have gotten their way.
I looked at them. I looked at my chocolate. I could already see my little brother or sister wanting half of it.
My answer — a resounding: No.
That answer must have weighted pretty heavily. Hence my status of single child to this day.
I have no regrets.
It must have probably been for the best. As most young families after the fall of the communist regime in Romania, we were dirt poor.
I vividly remember crying for a magnifying glass to my mother while she explained calmly to me that we don’t have money to buy it.
That magnifying glass was probably worth the combined amount of two cups of coffee in my favorite coffee shop nowadays.
My parents were young. The economy was great only for people who had connections to the outside world. Zero opportunity for young factory workers that believed in “honest labor” of the kind that made you sweat and produce something tangible.
Like most of the other people at that time, liberty was something new and mysteriously hard to grasp.
As a kid, I remember always being happy. I was really loved and never really felt I lacked anything.
The day my father left to work in another country was a really quiet one.
I had just woken up to find my mother ironing lots of clothes, putting some of them in a suitcase. Everything was filled with light from the early summer’s morning. I felt I was exploring a new and different house.
Something was changed.
My father had a strange simile while talking, like he wanted us to see that everything’s going to be fine.
That’s all I can remember from that day.
It was the late beginning of the great wave of labor emigration.
For my father, the receiving country was Spain.
Someday, I’ll get in writing the many stories he’s told me about this very defining period.
Suffice to say it was hard, rewarding and character building.
Today, 15 years later, I could not imagine a better family. If nothing broke us apart until now.
I just finished eating a chocolate.