Her Name is Sofia

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Sofia, Bulgaria- September 2014

She stands on the periphery of the bejeweled and famous. Arms crossed and smirking. A distinctive tiara perched on her disheveled curls.

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Tattoos adorn her flesh. Back alley artist scrawls that draw blood.

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They accentuate her unpolished baubles.

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The flaws are deliberate and worn with pride.

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Even her edges have edges.

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Packs of killer dogs prowl her streets. Children sniff glue in the murky underpasses. Do not wander her streets alone after dark. She is desolation. Stay away from her.

That is what the well-groomed, popular ones say.

Those whispers of warning are dispelled by her voice. It drifts through the thick rose-perfumed cigarette haze. Ancient melodies merged with modern banality. The result is charming, hypnotic. Intensely unique.

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Heat flows through her veins. The deep, thirst-quenching fire of the Earth.

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And the soul-appeasing warmth of faith.

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If you observe her with a sharp, but respectful gaze, she may reveal her faded elegance.

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And precious, rare softness.

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Many have said that she has seen better days.

No. For this fierce, resilient queen, the best is yet to come.

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63 thoughts on “Her Name is Sofia

  1. So eloquent. It is so easy to see only worn, tacky sights and not the whole. As travelling is about choice I made a choice last year that took me to Bucharest and not to Sofia. There is always somewhere else.

    • Exactly. I had the choice of taking an organized tour up to Rila Monastery or spending the day in Sofia. The monastery is supposed to be beautiful. However, the thought of riding on a bus with other tourists, following a guide around, having the obligatory lunch, and possibly making small talk was totally uninspiring. Traveling so much has given me an aversion to “tourist sights”. I much prefer to wander around and feel the essence of a place, observe how people live.

  2. I have fallen in love with Sofia!

    What a beautiful and profound tribute to a city that has thrived from antiquity. She has sheltered Alexander the Great. Constantine the Great called her “my Rome.” She courageously faced the Huns and flourished under Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. Many great men claimed her since the early days, but she has remained, as you said so eloquently, a fierce, resilient queen.

    A brilliant post!

    • When people speak of the ancient world, it’s almost always of Greece and Rome. Not many mention Bulgaria, and I doubt most people can even find it on a map. And yet, there is so much history in that country. And a very rich and unique culture. I went to Plovdiv, too, which is one of the world’s oldest cities.

      • I agree that we always think of Greece and Rome because most of us were raised in grade school on these topics. Perhaps it is in the busyness of our daily routines that we forget to continue learning. I have been listening to the discussion between Bill Moyer and Joseph Campbell (you would really enjoy it). Campbell says that we must all take the Hero Journey – to expand our knowledge. In a nutshell – to avoid mediocrity. Again, thanks for the excellent post. 🙂

  3. in a day sometimes you can catch a lot of the atmosphere of a city… you pay more attention at the details… what a beautiful portrait you made, i read it twice. beautiful photos, as always. Cris

  4. What a poetic post, each word, each photo…perfection.
    Each photo has a story, just like her. Hope I go visit someday.

    • Thanks! I disabled the like buttons on older posts, except for the very deep archives where there aren’t so many, because I was annoyed by people who stop by and like 5 or more posts in the space of 30 seconds. I’m kinda over the whole “like” thing in general. I’d disable them on all posts, but some regular readers may want a way to say that they read it, but they might not have anything to add in the way of a comment.

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