It is a moment. You are in a car, driving away from Bosnia, on the backseat. With your earphones on. You watch the scenery move fast from your window, the sun is shining hard in your face, but you don’t mind. You love it. At some point, you are no longer in the northern part of Croatia. Once you pass the tunnel of Saint Roko, once you emerge on the other side, you are home. Welcome to Dalmatia. It is all different. The air, the scenery, the feel. The land is dryer. More pines, more olive trees, more of everything that is Mediterranean. You can practically feel the sea, even though you can’t see it yet. I lost all those photos when my phone flew away into the sea, but perhaps it was the best thing that could have happened to me this summer. It provided for an easier survival after. When we reached Dalmatia, suddenly there was silence. Calm. All my muscles eased up. I was home, finally, after four years of being absent. Never again.
The first three weeks in Croatia felt like a vacation because I was on a vacation. After the twenty-fourth of June my life would never be the same. The unraveling began, and nothing would be the same anymore, not after that moment. I literally missed my flight. It was my own version of Eat, Love, Pray except with more tears, sleepless nights, and hysterics. I cried for what felt like two weeks straight. But then people started visiting me, and I needed to stop. I was grateful, and still am. To every single person, I encountered this summer. I am so fucking grateful.
D., the tennis coach I befriended on the first day after First Love left. We spent so much time together. Playing tennis, drinking coffees, drinking wine – both red and white -, eating fresh seafood at the konoba by the old ambulance. He was there when I needed someone to drive me back home at 2 o’clock at night from a town 30 km away after a terrible day. I will never forget that. The little bird who helped me by being my friend/therapist, but mostly kept me inebriated in the most spectacular way. For about two weeks, the two of us had a daily ritual of sneaking down to the beach while the little one slept in the afternoon to drink bevandas, swim, cheat the sun with self-tanning glittery marmalade, and dissect life until there was nothing left. Those afternoons were gold.
Then there was she. My long-lost best friend, my namesake, my anchor in the darkest of moments. In character and personality, we are often the exact opposites, but perhaps that is why we could comfortably sit for hours in utter silence, drink coffee at each other’s terraces but with our own mugs, filled with different coffees because we are different. There were nights we would sneak out after midnight, while everyone else slept, and hit the town. We’d attract the attention of people around us, but give none in return. Sometimes the loud cafe bar would not do anymore, and we’d walk to the edge of town, sit by the water with our feet hanging just above the surface. Chain-smoking with our backs turned against each other for support, there was very little I needed at that moment. Every morning Kraljica would see us, again and again, mala produžena i velika sa mlijekom with a couple of bureks with cheese, and kravats. The morning ritual was kept and nourished for almost seven weeks straight, no matter how little sleep we would get the night before.
There were also other mornings.
There were mornings I’d wake up at six o’clock before the heat struck and go running around the half-island. There were mornings I would go swimming naked in the open sea. There were mornings I couldn’t wake up and I’d sleep until almost lunch. There were mornings I spent alone, just by myself, on the terrace, with a coffee, always with a coffee, writing, taking in the view. There were mornings I practiced yoga and meditation. There were mornings I’d be returning home with the sunrise, drunk on life. There were mornings I’d have three coffees before 9 am, unable to keep a straight thought for the rest of the day.
There were mornings when the wifey would wake me up by placing a freshly made cup of coffee next to my nose to wake me up. There were mornings I spent at the emergency room in Šibenik being told she might not survive the next twenty-four hours. There were mornings I wasn’t really myself and nothing made sense; I floated somewhere between the sky and the earth never fully standing with both of my feet on the ground. There were mornings I’d wake up on a boat, in the middle of the sea, and not alone. There were mornings that were all about people, delicious breakfast, excellent coffee, the sea, and the sun. There were mornings when I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it through the day. But then I did. I always do.
It is a moment. You reach a certain a point, and you emerge on the other side of life. You start living.