Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Croatian summer 2015

By Anci CL

Immersing myself into our annual Dalmatian getaway is always a little jarring at first—time seems to stand still over here, like we’ve got a foothold in a perpetually sunny Narnia of sorts. I realize life goes on even when I’m away, but I also kind of think that’s bullshit, and that this island only exists for six weeks out of the year.  (that’s my self-centeredness talking. Or maybe it’s my science fiction geek.)

I experienced some return anxiety, when I first stepped through ‘the door’ —I guess I’m never sure what to expect when re-interacting with ghosts from the past.  Not that they are malevolent ghosts—more like, hormonal, pubescent phantoms that stir confusion in me, when I see gazes, (and biceps) I recognize.

The women are preternaturally beautiful. I scan their faces with fascinated distance, and wonder what it would take to join their ranks—legs that start from their shoulders, and end several miles below sea level, for starters. (Not to mention a semi-bitchy walk, which my flat feet can’t pull off, but my ambitious hips perpetually strive for, anyway.)

I am suddenly bombarded with memories I have long-since forgotten. Riding on the back of a raging rusty motorcycle, gripping onto the tanned skin of a semi-reckless, sandy-haired driver, whose masculine prowess is forever set (in my mind) at  a hissing, red “TERRIFYING.”

Then I blink,  and I’m storming away in 17 year old rage when… a boy I “liked” did something unforgiveable like... use a shitty tone of voice. His indifference clashes with my leopard print bikini, and my eyes are burning with hot, feminine fury.

I flash forward several years and I’m watching glowing sea creatures shiver and dance below the surface of the Adriatic, as somebody in the background strums on an old guitar, and a very drunk friend of mine starts quietly playing with my hair.  I pull away, and allow him to compose himself but my thoughts are scattered with dull whispers of Bosnia.

In an instant I am back to 16, holding a trembling flute in my hand, and feeling relief when my professor praises me.  She calls me musical and talented, and this makes me both elated and nervous. It’s a feeling similar to having a teenage crush, (except for none of the downsides, and all of the self esteem.)

Then I’m back in my 20s dancing in a bar surrounded by friends, knowing this moment would remain forever in an increasingly inaccessible loop, buried deep in the least reliable parts of my psyche. I am pained with joy that I will never recapture, and I am simultaneously uplifted by its fleeting force.  More importantly, I am also uplifted by Jennifer Lopez’ loud clubby beats.

In another instant I am roaming the coast with my friend—her dark black curls are bouncing with their trademark enthusiasm, while her black eyes glitter with intelligent mischief. I enjoy having girl-friends like her—sharp, bright, chatty, and a little bit biting. She is telling me about a Japanese author she really likes, and I am listening intently, while picking at a scab.

Finally, I am turning 27 ( exactly a year ago) and I am fully absorbed in the pages of Murakami, while swaying gently in a hammock. I feel quietly happy, and self assured. Ahead of me is a long year of teaching children, and snowy days in rural Ohio. But in that moment I am utterly okay and satisfied, and grown up. The long-haired waiter stops by and asks if I’d like a refill on my beer, I shake my head no, and continue swaying before turning the page.

These are all very old memories, but I relive them in every whiff of sea-air I inhale. I feel both childish and very ancient—like I am rooted to the earth, simply by existing within this rocky landscape.

But that’s a lot to take in, on my first day back.