Cafe culture, crepes, and the course: what’s Zagreb like, Cam?

General, travel, Uncategorized

Hey!

It’s been a hot minute since we last spoke, certainly. I did MEAN to keep in touch, but I sort of had fifty hours of class a week and no free time – so even though I WANTED to say hi, I just didn’t have the bloody time!

However, maybe you don’t care and did not, in fact, notice my absence. (Although if that’s the case – why are you reading this?)

I’m writing to you now from a very trendy urban cafe in FULHAM, LONDON! That’s right baby, it’s LONDON TIME!!! I am absolutely amazed, thrilled, overjoyed, ecstatic, and whatever other synonyms for “great” you can think of, to be home. Well, in my home country, at least.

Living abroad is very much like living at home. You get used to it – like any new place, it becomes home. But when I was riding the tube yesterday, looking at all the graffiti’d London concrete in the pouring rain, I couldn’t stop smiling. This is what I know. This is home. This washed-out, chilly, grey country where the people hold the doors open for you and I can listen in on their awkward conversations in familiar accents – is home for me.

Home is my sister wearing her cashmere jumpers, mug of coffee in hand. Home is hot tea from a proper mug, that somehow just doesn’t taste the same outside of England? Home is the boring familiarity of the greens and browns of the countryside, the comforting concrete grey of the pavements. It’s the smell of the curry my dad makes, the sound of my mum’s telly in the morning. It’s all the boring, crappy stuff that goes on that you didn’t even think about before. Little things – smells and sights and sounds that mean you’re totally, and utterly, home.

I’m smiling so much now, writing this, through a headache induced from tiredness and the feeling that the world is spinning just slightly faster than its normal speed.

Zagreb might be home for me now, and I love it to bits; but it’s not the country I grew up in.

(Reminder that this is just home for me – the place you consider home might not be a place, it might be a person or a thing or even somewhere you’ve never been!)

Anyway, deep thoughts aside, I wanted to tell you about my first term away.

City of light (prose)

General

So this is it. Welcome home. Welcome to your new life. Welcome to the unknown.


The thing is, you packed your bags and left the country and said your goodbyes, but you didn’t really think about what you were doing. Where you were going. It was just another  link in the chain of events that string your life together. Just another brick in the wall.

But you got here, you made it and it was busy, so busy and yes it was strange but it was good strange, not bad strange, and you fit into the city like you fit into most places; without a struggle. This is home but not yet home. It’s home in the future, not the present.

Cities and strange places and strange coffee and strangers asking you all kinds of strange questions that you don’t understand and strange roads with strange drivers that come at you from the wrong side. A mistake, maybe?

Sounds you’re not used to – the last trams rattling through the city, car alarms in the night, children playing in the park. Car horns beeping all day long. Cigarette smoke and the smell of fresh bread.

And then – clean streets, lined with trees. Sipping coffee and cocktails in the rain. Dogs barking in the park, children playing. Interesting cafes and corners and nooks to explore. New spaces to discover. A bookshelf stacked high, a cake-stand to admire. My legs are getting stronger, day by day. I pace the wide streets of what I am beginning to think of as “my” city.

A home that wasn’t mine but is now, a bed that wasn’t mine but is now, a desk that wasn’t mine but is now. My photographs on the walls. My food in the cupboard. My washing on the line, my neighbours to observe. Space I am slowly fitting in to.

My life, stretched thin, seen through the looking glass. Dismal days of rain and work followed by sun upon sun upon sun. A vase full of sunflowers in my bedroom, like always.

I sit and draw, or I write, and let these golden days and final rays of summer sun flow through me. I try and think of the future, about how valuable these precious moments are, seconds before the scale tips once more and again, I’ll be learning. Striving. Academic pressure and all that comes with it. Change is good. Stasis is safe. How to choose?

A strange city, indeed, full of strange versions of myself that I can see only vaguely as manifest through the years.

Out with the old, in with the new. Sunflowers, like always. But growing, and rising, too.

C x