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Recently @Olasquare asked me about the origin of my nickname. I gave him a brief explanation, but of course there is more to it. I get asked about my nickname often, so instead of explaining it every time somebody asks, I can send them a link to this article, which explains it abundantly.
I think I was 13 or 14 when by some miracle I was allowed to spend a night outside my parents place. My dad must have been away and I probably came up with some intricate lie to make it happen. Mind you, before mobile phones this was somewhat easier to arrange AND not get caught. I say a miracle, because my parents had to be extra careful, as we were under the care of social workers due to our past.
When I was 11, my brother and I were taken away from my parents, because my dad was in prison and my mum had a breakdown and was also taken to a mental hospital. I was doing my best to keep myself and my 8 years old brother clean, fed and attending school and was hoping that with the help of a neighbour we can survive until mum is back from the hospital. Some of the neighbours thought otherwise and sent a social worker my way, who in turn arranged for us to be taken away.
Firstly we spent 2-3 months in an emergency orphanage. There were no foster families in Poland. Just big buildings with a lot of kids like us, whose parents were not able to look after them for whatever reasons. It wasn’t all that bad - I found a friend who bullied me on a regular basis and I joined the same local dance team which she attended for a while before me. We also had free access to a swimming pool, which we visited frequently during the weekends. My mum was out of the hospital by then and came to visit us, but I wasn’t all that keen on her visits, as she wasn’t her normal self yet.
Later we were taken to an even further away town to a more permanent orphanage. Weirdly enough, I was somewhat happy. My life has become peaceful. I had a room that I shared with 1 other person and every night I could fall asleep without worrying that my dad might come back home drunk in the middle of the night and throw a tantrum.
My bully friend and her sister were also moved there at the same time and together we found yet another dance team to join. This time we also had free access to an ice rink as well as a swimming pool and bus/tram pass. We had a lot of privileges just because we were poor. Every summer the building was undergoing some reconstructions and all kids were assigned 2 different vacations. Usually 1 abroad and one on a scout campsite in some beautiful parts of Poland, where we slept in tents, learned survival skills, sang songs and did other scout things. All fun, although I remember escaping from one of those campsites and making our way back to the orphanage. I think partly it was a ‘cool’ thing we heard other kids did and partly we didn’t like the idea of going for another half day long pilgrimage, so we went ahead of everyone and took a train back ‘home’. Our guardians were not impressed and the renovations were not yet finished, so we were taken right back to the campsite. We were a seasonal heroes though :D
Overall I quite enjoyed the 2 years we spent away from my parents house. Apart from dancing and skating I also learned how to smoke cigarettes, had my first kisses and first boyfriends. As much as I love my mum, I wasn’t all that keen on going back to my parents once my dad was out of prison and they finally ‘won us back’ in court. I had no idea what to expect and I also wasn’t keen on going to a 4th different primary school, whilst most normal kids only ever attended one.
One good part was that my mum saved some money and bought me many new clothes just before I was once again sent away for a vacation. This time we were in Polish mountains together with other poor kids and I really liked one of the boys from the first sight. In the 2 weeks that we spent there I never showed the guy that I liked him and agreed to be a girlfriend of another boy, as my confidence was non-existent back then. On the last day of holiday I found out that actually my first choice also really liked me, so I broke up with the other boy and spent the last day and night with The One! Not what you think though! Us, older kids were allowed to stay up till the sunrise on the last day of holiday and watch the movies. It was the first time I drank coffee to stay awake and we sat on the wooden chairs next to each other, watching movies and holding hands under the blanket. How romantic was this? It does make me smile.
I think this was the one and only romantic time we had though. Next day we came back home and although I was visiting the nearby village where all my new friends lived, somehow we never became a thing. That party at the end of summer which everyone was going to attend and stay in a huge tent overnight was my last chance for a romantic moment with The One. I seriously can't remember how I managed to perform this miracle and attend it, but my MOTIVATION was clearly spot on back then!
Yes, we drank alcohol and smoked cigarettes. Guys put up a huge tent while girls were picking up wood for a bonfire. We sang songs and had lots of laughter. I can’t remember exactly what happened with The One anymore, probably nothing major. What I can remember vividly was that there were 2 Monika’s and whenever somebody called one, both answered. That night Fantagira was born. One of the older guys gave me this nickname after the Italian fantasy series ‘Fantaghiro’ aka ‘The cave of a golden rose’. In Polish language however, all female names end with an ‘a’, hence why Fantagira replaced Fantaghiro.
I once read an article in a magazine about people whose surnames would define their life choices. Like for example Edward Driver would become a driving instructor or Anastasia Flower would become a famous gardener etc. One could wonder if the same applies to a nickname.
The youngest princess of three, she is outspoken, headstrong and never retreats from battle. Although beautiful and intelligent, she causes many problems for her family because she goes against everything expected for a woman in her kingdom, by being literate, adventurous and rebellious, which makes her father furious. In the first film, she is an impulsive troublemaker who likes to provoke her father and sisters, but underneath it she has a good heart. By the second film onwards, she is accepted as a fighter who will do whatever it takes to protect her loved ones, even if that means sacrificing her own life. She is deeply in love with Romualdo, who was previously her kingdom's enemy. They are married in the third film and adopt the orphaned Princess Esmeralda as their daughter.
Fantaghirò tries to befriend all creatures and people she meets, unless they try to harm those she cares about. She is very forgiving and looks past physical appearances.
What can I say? In first movie Fantaghiro dressed up as a man to prove her worth to her dad. I dressed more like a men when I was younger and always used to prefer male friends. Most of my working life I also spent amongst men in engineering, fighting to prove my worth. For a randomly picked nickname, this is surprisingly accurate. I am not so much of a fighter these days, I pick my battles or skip them altogether, but younger me was definitely all that and some more! Now I wonder if it was in fact just a random selection as I have always thought? I will most likely never know.
I can tell you a fun fact though! My Italian friend who was helping me with allotment work last week also uses the same nickname from the same movie! Fun fact 2: she is also number 7 in numerology and although the series above consisted of 5 movies, initially there were meant to be 7 of them.
Fantaghirò would have continued to travel to parallel worlds, including ours, before returning home to find it too an alternative reality where she would face an evil version of herself.
This almost sounds like me and Ernesto! Except my inner donkey is not really evil, just stubborn.