This collection came to life when I had to spend almost 4 months at home during spring 2020, the most time I had spent there since leaving Bulgaria in 2017. It was my way of exploring the surroundings I had grown up around, the too-familiar places and details of my family home and my neighbourhood that I had always considered too painfully outdated and undeserving of any worthy documentation.
However, the cliche that you need to lose something or move away from something to appreciate it is annoyingly so true, and such was the case here. Even though my life had primarily moved to the UK, I was more or less forced to turn back to the way I had lived pre-moving, but with a new outlook on what home means and feels like. I spent numerous days walking around by myself, that was all one could do during those months, and tried to notice the corners, details and landscapes that had raised me in terms of what I considered to be my place of physical origin and remove the shame I had somewhat let permeate my sense of identity when the question of where I was from came about.
Spending all your life in an old, soviet-era apartment in a soviet-era block, in a town that has been on the decline for decades does not exactly do much to make you proud of where you are from. I grew up being told about how prosperous and important my town has always been, since its founding over 2 millennia ago yet all I could see was the peeling faded paint, the rusty cars and street signs, the squeaking doors and windows, the lifts that feel like could drop you into the abyss any moment if you attempt any sudden moves, the terribly patched up roads and holes, the schools that had not been renovated in over 30 years and were relying solely on the reputation they had established some decades ago and whose sense of grandeur and prestige was wearing off, and the feeling of hopelessness that hangs in the air because this list never ends.
I still get disappointed by the lack of progress my town is exhibiting in many areas, and the steady decrease in people that becomes more and more evident every time I visit is always a bit heartbreaking until I remember I am part of those who have left. But being forced to peel the layers of reasons behind my town's decline and looks and see it for its historic and cultural importance has been quite refreshing, and I have started to appreciate it for all the strange looks it has to offer that have resulted from decades of combining new and old, hope and despair, dreams and reality.