Where There Is Happiness

Updated: Jul 9, 2020


cropped-ourlifelogs_isotype4

| This is the 132nd story of Our Life Logs |

When I close my eyes, I can still see the two sunlit rivers and the wide mountain meadows surrounding our house. I was born on a cold February day in 1951 in a tiny cottage of Ptchelinovo, Bulgaria. Growing up, all my family lived in a two-story house. My immediate family inhabited the first story, and my cousin’s family lived in the second story. Because of this, it feels odd to refer to our families as something separate. We were one whole.

Me (middle) with my two younger brothers.
Me (middle) with my two younger brothers.
a3887-17y6fo3ifzj8hwkvb_g4g_a

1 | Early Years

People can only dream of such a carefree childhood like mine. After my first years of school in the local mountain-meadow school house, my siblings and I began going to school that was three kilometers away. Every day, we crossed the mountain forests, and in the winter, wolves would start going down in search for food. But we never got in trouble, after all.

After school, we used to buy a piece of freshly baked bread and head back home to catch crayfish and boil them by the river. If the weather was hot, we would jump and swim in the refreshing river water.

My parents raised us to respect Mother Nature and all the abundance She provides for the people. They taught us that the power of faith and gratitude is stronger than anything in this world. When you turn to God, you turn to the faith that’s in your heart. That’s why God has many names, but the force is a universal one; it knows no limits.

a3887-17y6fo3ifzj8hwkvb_g4g_a

2| When Education Wasn’t an Obligation, But a Luxury

My mother and father did everything in their power to keep us in school, for they wanted their children to live a life away from hard labor. When I turned 14, my father built a single-room house in a bigger village called Gurkovo because he knew there would be no other way to give us proper education. After a year of pinching pennies, my parents made sure we were well educated by sending me and my brother to good school that was 33 km away from our home in Gurkovo.

The accommodation my parents rented for us was a wine cellar in shared house. Our landlord was an old grandpa who inhabited the same house. Each night, our landlord would lock us up as soon as the clock struck 8 pm. We weren’t mad at him for doing so, and we lived in the accommodation for three years. My parents came to visit only once, and that was when we were just setting in. Then had to keep taking care of the land and animals back in Gurkovo. While it was hard to be away from my parents, we were grateful for their sacrifice.

An overview of the Central Balkan in Gurkovo | Image courtesy of Pixabay
An overview of the Central Balkan in Gurkovo | Image courtesy of Pixabay
a3887-17y6fo3ifzj8hwkvb_g4g_a

3 | One Life, One Love

When I was in 9th grade (or about 15 years old), I met the love of my life, Ivan. He would write poems for me and would always pay attention to those tiny details most men would fail to grasp. But at the time, I was much too young to get together with him. Moreover, he was three years older than me and was just about to enter the obligatory military service. He spent two years away on a strict regimen, and during this period, we were able to meet only two times.

Me, age 15, posing with my new hairstyle.
Me, age 15, posing with my new hairstyle.

As soon as his military service was over, I was already finishing 11th grade and was about to become 18 years old. Ivan still had my heart, and I still had his. So, we wanted to live as a family.

We asked for my parents’ blessing to get married, but they didn’t take it very well. They wished I could study and live away from the village life. They were hoping I could have a better future, away from the hard work. Getting married at this early age would mean throwing their dreams for me in the trash.  But the truth is, my dream already had a name, and this name was Ivan.

Meanwhile, my husband-to-be was a young and poor boy. Even when he was about to finish his study, his future was predicted by the rules of the Soviet Union. He was going to become a laborer at a factory, as was I. But we didn’t take this as something good or bad. For us, it was just how life is supposed to go. Either way, we were together, which made us very happy.

We had an official engagement in Ivan’s village, and a week later, we paid my parents another visit to announce we are about to get married. This time, they realized they couldn’t stand between me and my will, and they didn’t try to anymore. They gave us their blessing and our wedding was humble.

My husband and I on our wedding day, wearing a necklace of money – a traditional gift for the weddings back then. Later on, our necklaces were about to help us make the first deposit for our apartment.
My husband and I on our wedding day, wearing a necklace of money – a traditional gift for the weddings back then. Later on, our necklaces were about to help us make the first deposit for our apartment.

We moved to live with my husband’s family in Rozovo in 1969. We had a very simple life and shared the house with my husband’s parents, his two b