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Ada Butnaru - Hidden Treasures

Author: Ada Butnaru

It's 3:30 at night. I unzip the tent and step outside. I take a deep breath, but it's still not enough. No wonder, I'm at over 3800 m altitude, on an ancient trail that goes up to the Machu Pichu. I move a little away from the tent and I  sit on a rock. To my left up the mountain is a small cliff where a few llamas sleep. The view is overwhelming. Tomorrow is January 1st, and we finally reach Machu Pichu.

I was a naughty child growing up. I ran away from home when I was 5 years old, but my mother found me near our home. From that moment on I learned that the door locks also from the outside and doesn't open with a fork like in the cartoons.

I loved racing with the boys on bikes with no brakes, in gum slippers, and I loved winning. I used to steal flowers from the gardens around the block, I preferred to be the thief in the children’s game “the thief and the policeman”, but I also loved playing with dolls and reciting poetry. But I wasn't a typical little girl. I didn't like wearing skirts, because I couldn't run around in them, and I always had my knees bruised, from playing ball, from riding my bike, from climbing trees, fences and so on. I was sometimes the boy my father wanted, until I started "organizing" his tools in the pantry. At the same time, I was very serious at school. At lunchtime, when my mother left for work, I already had my homework finished.

The Ada from the school  was a completely different Ada to the one at our block. I was head of the class, I had a notebook in which I kept track of classmates who were absent, were talking, or were disrupting classes. In the 8th grade when I was away in Cluj, classmates tried for the first time a collective run away. Because if it wasn't me there, they'd all have skipped.

In the 7th grade  we were doing extra preparation for the Maths Olympiad in the Easter holiday. It was already mild spring sunshine outside, and the asphalt was getting warmer and warmer.

The boys were playing ball near the garages, and I was carrying my backpack home from extra math class at school. "Man, I couldn't do that," one of them exclaimed angrily. I guess I haven't been out with the boys ever since. I thought a lot about that episode. Part of me felt even then that it was a waste of time, that I didn't like math anyway...

In fact, what was hard for me to accept was that you couldn't be part of their gang, and be good at math also. Just like you couldn't be a straight-A student and still flunk out with your classmates at least one time. Why can't your office be messy and at the same time to be a great student? Today I often hear from people that at first glance I am a cold person. However, reliable sources tell me that I am the most talkative and funniest member of my family. 

People unintentionally put us in boxes, and once we're inside, we think it's our box. We are afraid to show the sides that would take us away from the image others have of us, for fear of being rejected. But we risk losing something much more valuable, the very things that makes us special.

Today, I have embraced the idea that I am a little bit of everything. I am a lawyer and I do my work patiently and dutifully. I still enjoy riding bikes. I climb mountains. And yes, at first glance I don't talk much, I analyze and seem reserved. But I'm still the funniest member of my family.  I've also learned to let go of the things I used to do only because they were expected of me, to make room for the things I'm good at and enjoy doing. 

When I was 13 I read a story about a fabulous trip to Machu Pichu. Now I know that the trek to Machu Pichu takes 4 days, but is built every day, box by box. 

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