People, if you think time flows in one direction only " forward " you don't know jet lag. With jet lag, you can move backwards in time and recapture your youth. Me, for example. I flew to Europe, and when I got there at 9 a.m., it was 4 a.m. in New Orleans. All the Europeans were up-and-about like it was really morning, drinking coffee and looking pissed off like only Europeans who have to go to work can. I'm saying Europeans here, but I mean Romanians in Bucharest. Romania is now in the European Union. Anyway, I saw them off to work and then I stayed up until my friend Ioana and her son Luca found me and took me to a restaurant with steaming foods and fiddlers. At something like 8 p.m., which was about noon back home, I sank into the cuisine of my native land like a worm to the bottom of a bottle of Mezcal and started hallucinating. The next day, which was I'm not sure when, Ioana, Luca and her colleague Alex drove me to Sibiu, the medieval city that gave birth to the blooming freak that I am and put me into the hands of poets who were conducting a poetry marathon that involved more than 100 poets each reading for 20 minutes all day and all night. By now it didn't make any difference to me what time it was back in America because I entered the twilight world of poetry, which is famous for being made by people without watches. I was transported several thousand years back and forth in time in the Romanian language. My hometown used to be a quiet place when I lived there as a child because most people had been killed in the war and the ghosts had the run of the joint. Not now. In 2007, Sibiu was proclaimed a World City by the United Nations, and, like Al Gore winning the Nobel Prize, it couldn't just lie there anymore and be a nice place for dreamy kid poets. It was as full of tourists as New Orleans at Jazz Fest, only the town's half the size of New Orleans. All the tourists were German and instead of jazz, they were there to see a newly renovated old city that sparkled like a mini-Prague with good intentions and was hosting " simultaneously " poetry marathons, the European Cultural Congress, run-on sentences and a whole bunch of living
Dutch painters. The Bruckenthal Museum of Sibiu, known the world over for dead
Dutch painters, was now totally out of control. After I marathoned as long as I could, I celebrated my brother Robert's 50th birthday at a restaurant hand-carved entirely out of wood by a primitive artist. I kid you not. Peasants in flowing white robes cinched at the waist with wide belts kept pouring wine into painted clay carafes and setting fire to plum brandy. My brother built himself a house in the mountains, and the very same wood carver carved him a bar in the rock under the house. That's one dude I could employ. There is no way to make this story short because it's not a short story; it's more like a novel. Suffice it to say that the next day, don't ask me which, I was in another medieval Transylvanian city being transported by a famous local witch from one tower to another. This city, called Cluj, and also Kolosvar and Klausenburg, is so old that every time the light changes and the river of cars flows forward, another piece of history, like about 500 years of gargoyles, falls off a medieval building and kills a pedestrian. I'll stop here, but I can tell you that from Cluj I went to Frankfurt, Germany, where they made me into a book, and I became very timeless and young because that's what not sleeping for centuries does for you if you don't have time to look in a mirror. I'm in a hotel lobby in New York now, singing out loud. See you soon.
Andrei Codrescu's latest book is New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writing From the City (Algonquin Books).