Returning Home: A Journey of Self Discovery
By Aura Imbarus
For as long as I can remember and according to all the experts, family, and friends I asked, “home” is a place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a household or is a place “where something flourishes, is most typically found, or from which it originates.” So, more or less HOME has related to a “place” where someone was born in, loves, is interested in or shows some predilection for. But, we also know that a house not necessarily parlays itself into a home. People can have many houses but probably only one home: the place where they feel most comfortable in. In my case “home for twenty-five years was called Transylvania, Sibiu, Romania; and now, for eighteen years, it has been called Los Angeles, California, the United States of America, or…. so I thought until recently.
If Transylvania’s name always places me under Dracula’s spell, Sibiu – Hermannstadt, the city where I was born in, takes my memory down the well- trodden cobblestone alleys alongside old chestnuts trees and to the emerald green Cibin river, where I used to ice-skate during frozen winter days and swim during torrid summers nights. To me, Sibiu is the Gothic and Baroque architecture sealed in each and every stone, brick, and mortar that has survived years of merciless Communist oppression; it is the chilly wind blowing the fallen leaves on a late September morning, trying to compete with the timid rays of a pale sun emerging through the grey clouds; it is the waft of cinnamon coming from Buni’s (Grandma) kitchen while she is preparing French toast for me; the soft skin, dark eyes and crystalline giggles of my Mother while she greets me in the morning, the uneven parallel bars installed in our garden and the heavy breathing of the well trained, muscular body of my Dad. To the outside world, Sibiu, my hometown, is a touristy place, attracting people from all over the world. Even if it has a small population of 147, 245, it is one of the most important cultural centers of Romania, and it was designated the European Capital of Culture for the year 2007. Formerly established by Transylvanian Saxons- people of German ethnicity, the old burg of Sibiu was ranked by Forbes as “Europe’s 8th most idyllic place to live.”