I loved music from an early age, when my parents listened to bootlegged Beatles and Boney M in Romania. There’s a story my dad loves to tell that I love to hear. When I was about two years old, my dad was recording something on his reel to reel and had to go to work before the recording ended. I volunteered to change the tape and proceeded to thread the ribbon into the machine correctly. And thus began a lifetime of figuring out technology and dancing.
Thirty years ago this Christmas, Ceaușescu was executed by firing squad after a mass uprising across Romania. It started in Timisoara, the city I’m from, and it was started by a Hungarian priest. Which is a point my family likes to make note of.
In 1989, I was 12 years old. And for Christmas that year, I got a Nintendo. This was a big deal. It was the one that came with Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt, but mine came with a western outlaw shoot em up game instead. Thinking back, my dad liked deals and it’s highly likely he got it used hence the non-standard shooter game. Anyway, it came with a gun.
That Christmas, I remember my whole family gathered around the TV. My parents taped the news and they kept rewinding and pausing the tape to verify that he was dead.
Then we took turns with the Nintendo gun and shot at the screen, our own little firing squad. I remember the glee of it. All of us in it together. An era was over. An evil was gone. Change was happening in front of our eyes. Of course, change was complicated and full of corruption and we can debate if it even was a revolution if the same people stayed in power. But that night it made for the best Christmas.
This is the only photo I have that captures this moment. You can see my cousin Eva in the background shooting. My uncle is smoking on the left and that’s my dad waving on the right. I’m in front with my crimped hair and goofy look.