Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I'm feelin' 22...

July 3rd, 2014

It’s midnight here in Bulgaria, and I’m watching the video for Taylor Swift’s “22.” I’m not a huge fan, but the video is cute, and it is midnight on my birthday, so I post it to my wall just for kicks before I go to sleep. After all, it’s kind of fun to have a theme song for the next year of my life.

And it really feels alright. Having another birthday. I mean, I’m old enough to not like getting older, and sometimes it’s a scary thought….the fact that one day I won’t be young anymore. Youth has always maintained a place in my identity. But the last string of birthdays has made me feel a little more “legit” each year. A little more of an adult whom other adults have to take a little more seriously.


I’m sitting alone at Sozopol’s popular Jack Bar, treating myself to a yummy kiwi shake before meeting Phillip at “work.” He is a cool guy. He graduated from UALR a few years ahead of me, but I only know him because my professors had me interview him for an assignment in my Senior Seminar class. Over Skype, he had told me about his research with skeletons from a Byzantine cemetery here in Bulgaria. I had asked him a few months ago if I might be able to come help out while in “the area,” since Georgia is just across the Black Sea. He said he would welcome the help…so here I am. Doing osteoarchaeology at a gorgeous beach resort.

I offer a prayer of thanks and linger on how lucky I am.

But no….it’s not luck. I’m here because I chose to be here.


I’m cleaning dirt out of the eye socket of a Byzantine skull in the abandoned Soviet naval base that Phillip is using as his storehouse and lab. The place is huge. It’s a shame that they stripped it of anything useful and left it to rot. But as long as you wear shoes thick enough to protect you from shards of broken glass, it’s a pretty cool place to work in.

Or maybe it just makes me feel like a little bit of a bad-ass.



I grab a burger from a street stand for only a couple of Bulgarian Lev and find a wall to sit on, overlooking the beach.

My mind wanders again to how great it is to be here. And no, it isn’t pure luck. I mean yeah, there are the basic parameters set in place by my general life situation. Being born in a first world country, having parents who care, etc. But still….this isn’t luck. There’s something more to it.

Because no one told me to go to Georgia. I chose Georgia. And no one told me to volunteer in Bulgaria while I was at it. I chose this. I did the communication, the preparation, and the implementation. For quite possibly the first time in my life, I feel like I’m in a situation that I alone put myself into. It wasn’t because anyone else wanted me to. It wasn’t anyone else’s idea. I’m here because of me.

And it feels good to know that. Because this is my adult self that I’m merging into…that I’m somewhat constructing. These years are the beginning of the rest of my life, to be cliché about it. And to know that I am capable of making it a life that I want it to be….well, 22 doesn’t feel so bad so far.