It was a quiet evening in my friends’ backyard. There was no need for many words. We sat around a table with a bowl of fresh strawberry under the setting sun.
Cornelia was my English teacher in the 70’s. My first English teacher. Studying English language in a communist country was a great deal. When I finished 4th grade, my older friends were already learning Russian, and the best scenario, French. I surely hoped to learn Spanish to be able to chat with Julio Iglesias or even better, English, because I loved Roger Moore and John Wayne as well.
My parents, workers in a shoe factory at that time, didn’t have other dream for their daughter but to be a doctor. And here I am starting my 5th grade and learning that I was placed in an English class. It was an unexpected reaction of the communist government to the first American president who visited Romania, to allow the study of the English language in some schools.
Cornelia came from another city and I loved her from the first moment I saw her. Focused, professional, knowledgeable and with a warm heart, she helped me build my dream, and we remained friends over the years.
After High School I wanted to study English to be an English teacher, but I was denied by the regime. They saw in me a potential danger against the communist ideals. They didn’t want me to be an educator, but I became one anyway.
I caught Cornelia’s sight across the table and smiled. She patted my hand and whispered, “I love you.”
I whispered back, “I love you, too.”