I am about to take a nap for one hour before getting ready to go out to our last conference meal together, to a nice restaurant in the main square near the Opera House.
Although I'm not sad to see the end of the conference material - our brains are stuffed to overflowing - I am very sad to see new friends leave the conference. Igor, of gold flake vodka fame, left earlier today. The Bulgarian delegation, Ruben, Kalina and Krasi left about a half hour ago. Kalina, very smart, very serious, caused a laugh at my expense last night at dinner and also during the workshop this morning. I had just explained to Bart, Andreea and Nataly that when I was young, I was called "Jimmy" but that only family ever calls me that now. Almost immediately, Kalina, who was at a different table, called over "Good night, Jimmy (but it sounded like Jeemy) and my table all laughed. This morning, during the part of the conference where we shared a thought or two about our experiences yesterday, Kalina once again said that she enjoyed Jeemy's workshop. In fact I was quite surprised at the number of people who also commented that my presentation was helpful. Anyway, to continue from where I got side-tracked, Kalina and Krasi both had big kisses for me and warm hugs. I became a bit emotional. In just a few days, I grew to feel very close to them and I don't know if I'll ever see any of them again. This will intensify tomorrow when Bart leaves for Poland at the crack of dawn. He's a tough nut to crack but somehow, Andreea, Iwana and I got a little close to him. After some small group work, we reported. Andreea reported for our group and she did so with enthusiasm and passion. We were very proud of our young scholar.
Life is too full of good-byes. I really have learned here in Eastern Europe to make the most of my time and my brief relationships. These people have found a home in my heart and the friends I've made have made my life much richer. I only hope I can keep them.