Teacher's Pet

My first memory is very dull and searing: a huge sun squeezing out air, mirages coming out of the pavement and me jumping from one bare foot to the other. My life began there, in the suburb of Ajdabiya, in a compound rented by the company in which my father worked. Judging by the shells we’d find when digging just a few inches beneath the surface, the compound, an hour away from the coast, was situated on soil once a seabed... 

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If I Learn To Skate

Middle class happiness is like an overdue pregnancy. The love child of endurance and expectations. Torn between wanting to drift away on a road that naively starts below your home and leads to somewhere in Sicily, and wanting to own an apartment and a medium sized car. I take my weekend sucker punch as I clean the toilet...  

Compound

I remember the bathtub at the end of the compound, all rusty, its sides suddenly white and then rusty again. Somebody had put this small tub there, at the end of the world, where apocalyptic riders and misfits turned leaders traded goods. A silly wire separated the compound, a European socialist enclave, from the Desert. I knew nothing about the end. I didn’t really know death yet, but I was always scared there... 

 
 

Personal Histories

We would keep our trembling, bleeding fingers in our jacket pockets so that nobody can tell that we are thinking of death, that purple fright that is simply staying on the beach after the sunset, with no gas in the car, no bread and no blankets. I don’t know about yours, but my mother sure didn’t like to sew torn pockets, while all the other mothers smoked cigarettes and discussed curtains...

 

Užásno!

The train mended the space between two buildings as if to say that nothing can be broken or perhaps nothing can be mended forever. Brighton Beach after dusk is the closest I am to home in New York. I am there because of the sea and for the long train ride back. I’m there for the restaurants that stretch along the shore and their female Slavic names - Tatiana, Alina, Vera. Probably named after owner’s and everybody’s first love, mother, daughter. Probably, but all I could think of while pressing my nose against their windows is...

 

Taking Back the Hills

There is a sense of imminent adventure — or, should I say, collision — every time a car takes you up one of the hills surrounding Sarajevo. The narrow streets are lined with houses, mosques and little grocery stores, spilling people, cars, and minibuses, past non-existent sidewalks, onto the bending roads. As the car climbs uphill, night falls and the city below becomes a kindled fireplace, and we smoke and trade stories, surrounded by ashtrays, cups of coffee, tea, and rakija, while the radio plays Yugoslav pop songs from the 80’s. That is how you choose your friends in Sarajevo: people you want to be with in a near–accident on your way to the highest seats in the amphitheater...