Finding Myself in Belgrade

Hello all, my faithful readers. As you’ve noticed, I haven’t been writing like I used to. The writing used to pour out of me almost uncontrollably, every day in Belgrade. Every day I needed to get my thoughts down on paper so that I could record them and move on to the next adventure without fear that that precious memory would be lost. I was devouring experiences, racing from one place to the next, all too aware that my time to leave would come much too soon. It did come too soon, and as you read, I was forced to return home. Home: to regular life, bills, responsibilities, routine, normalcy, mind numbing trivial duties, and the ever approaching career identity crisis that I’d been ignoring before my Belgrade trip for several months. How much easier it would have been to stay and live out my alter-life, putting my old one on hold for a while as I got to learn new things every day, challenging myself mentally, making new friends around every corner, travelling and exploring, and loving every minute of it. But real life was calling and so I had to return home.
A few people wanted to know when I came back to California, “Did you learn more about your husband when you were over there” As you know, my husband is from Belgrade, grew up there till the ripe young age of 26 before immigrating to the US and starting life over from scratch. I went without him to Belgrade for 1 month, setting up everything on my own and trying to make some headway learning the language at my Serbian Intensive course. After some thought on this question, I can seriously answer it “No.”
No, I did not learn much more about my husband from travelling to his homeland. This is not because I wasn’t trying to, or because I was closed-minded. Quite the opposite, I was trying to learn everything I could, from cultural nuances, to geography, to the fine points of Serbian grammar, and all with a very open mind. But I can safely say that before going to his homeland, I knew him amazingly well already, including his Serbian roots, from having listened for years already about the mass exodus or brain drain in the 90s, his struggles immigrating, the desperation of many Serbs throughout history and modern times, the complex and heartbreaking history of the region, and every little old wives tale, conspiracy theory, or culinary preference. Yes, I’d heard it all. I had read books on Serbs, saw hundreds of photos, and was surrounded by them at parties, social events, and family holidays. I listen to my husband speak the language every single day at our home in his loud, dynamic, perfectly Serbian voice. Yes, I felt quite prepared when going to Belgrade, and rather than learn about him, I ended up learning more about myself.
Why is it that I can be myself most when I’m far, far, away?
My trip to Belgrade ended up being a journey of self discovery. And in the end, when I think back on it, I was just learning what I already knew. That I was adventurous, independent, strong, and smart. that I was daring, mischievous, intellectual, and artistic. That I was curious, committed, complex, and passionate. That I was funny, quirky, competent, and brave. That I was soulful, a dreamer and a doer, interested, and therefore interesting. I learned that though I’m American through and through, and I’m a Midwesterner as well, that I don’t really fit the profile of the typical American, and I don’t fit the profile of any one single political party, or religion, or type of world view. I’m patriotic to my country, but funnily enough, most comfortable around foreigners. To borrow a phrase my husband loves, “I’m a citizen of the world”.
I learned that I didn’t want to live the way I was living anymore. I didn’t want to waste my valuable life energy on one more person that brought me down, one more minute on pleasing people who I didn’t respect, or one more day not loving life and living it to the fullest. I was reconnecting with myself in a way that I had lost in recent years, having been living in Orange County, working myself to burn out, and being in a serious relationship. Those things can lead oneself away from oneself, and it was in Belgrade, that I found myself again.
So thank you Beograd, for being the perfect foreign city in which to find myself again, and thank you ljubavi, for letting go of me so I could make my own way for a little while again, and therefore find my way back to you, much more “me”, than when I left.
Though there will always be Serbianisms in my life, and a little bit of Belgrade in my heart, I must accept that this blog has run its course, a fantastic log of my adventures, a chart of my personal growth, and a very therapeutic way for me to voice my thoughts, when I somehow couldn’t say them out loud. I may update it from time to time if I have a particularly inspiring Serbianism in my life. But for now its time to embrace the next big adventure of mine, moving to Los Angeles. So my journey doesn’t stop here, I have so many new places to go, people to meet, and adventures to be had as I discover and fall in love with the sights and sounds of my new city, Los Angeles. Please continue on with me on my journey, its been the support of readers, the comments, and the over 10,000 clicks I’ve had on my blog, each one from you, the reader, that have encouraged me and given me confidence to keep writing about life, day by day. Thank You and lets keep going by visiting me at my new blog about my new life after moving to Los Angeles at:

http://www.learningtolovelalaland.com

Hvala Puno Dobri Ljudi!

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8 thoughts on “Finding Myself in Belgrade

  1. I must say for sure that I haven´t met a person by now who is so passionate about life, as you are, ” living it to the fullest ” ( I like that phrase ! ). I wish the two of you many, many great LA adventures !

    • Thanks Tweety!
      Knowing you’re a trivia expert, you will get all references to Kansas, Toto, and Dorothy, and the wizard of oz without me having to explain them. 🙂 on my new blog:
      learningtolovelalaland.wordpress.com
      “lala land” is a nickname for Los Angeles

        • Yes, that one is pretty obscure. “La La Land”, drawn from a play on words – LA stands for Los Angeles, tis a nickname, and also is a way of saying that LA is sortof ridiculous place. For example, if someone is spacing out and not paying attention or daydreaming, their parent might say, “Hey, come back from LaLa land and pay attention!” So its sortof a joke about how Los Angeles is out of touch with reality.

  2. I just read your whole blog, in one breath, on a gray, rainy morning in Serbia. I suppose reading this kind of blogs has become my favorite past time, I love to read how foreigners see my country and I loved that sentence “I’m patriotic to my country, but funnily enough, most comfortable around foreigners.” That’s me in a nutshell. I’m not as “passionate” and warm as Serbs tend to be. I am more reserved and I too feel more comfortable around foreigners. Maybe it’s because I’m 1/2 Polish, and northern people are considered “cold” in comparison. You know what I mean, all the kissing, “noseyness”, and man, we’re loud! I also cringe when I see roasted piglets and I don’t understand the whole “meat cult” and I’m not really used to it because I wasn’t raised in a typical traditional surrounding, but then again, I married a country guy so piggies are a must. Luckily, he is a 21 century man or I would be facing a cultural shock every day of my life in our (well, his home town) little sleepy town (Population 10k) in Vojvodina. Imagine a day when his cousin, with a huge smile on his face, brings us 10 freshly slaughtered ducks for our freezer. All of my childhood dreams vanished in a second because every little duck reminded me of Donald, Daffy, Scrooge etc.
    Oops, I got carried away a little… but I do understand what’s it like when you grow up, say, “american style” (watching Full House, Disney movies and listening to New Kids On The Block) and then meet the ‘real’ Serbia when you go to school and realize other kids didn’t have quite the same upbringing) keep writing please, I’m really enjoying your blogging!

    • Hey thanks for your comment!! I am so flattered that you read my entire blog!! Wow! Thank You!
      I can’t believe you had to put 10 freshly killed ducks in your freezer! I think thats WAY worse than my “big fat Serbian Feast”!!! I checked out your blog, and am SO BUMMED that its all in cyrillics and I can’t read it! I really need to brush up! I can just tell by the styles and pics and everything that I would love it though!! And thanks for encouraging me to keep writing. I’ve been thinking I have a bit more to add here before this blog gets wrapped up. So I think I will, thanks!! 🙂

  3. I just adore your spirit! I never thought I would blog, but two weeks ago my life took a sudden turn and my husband and I opened a new chapter of our lives. We too found ourselves drawn to the world – drawn away from the rat-race of the American culture – and ready to learn more about ourselves individually and as a couple. I left an amazing job because my husband was offered a transfer that we could not pass up – that transfer landed us in Subotica, Serbia. So, I find myself learning to be a “housewife” for the first time in my life. I speak Russian, so next week I am going to attempt to find a Serbian language school and start learning the language. I love it here so far, and this place is already forcing me to search deep in my soul and find the real “me.”

    Just wanted to say that I really appreciated this post in particular. Makes me realize that I am not alone in this journey. Many people have learned these lessons before me.

    If you find yourself in Serbia in the next three years, please contact us!
    Also- I just started a blog last week, so it is a work in progress – and in the process I have found so many other interesting blogs/stories.

    http://Www.livelifelikeabestseller.blogspot.com

    Cao!
    Lana

    • Hi Lana! So glad you found my blog, I’m eager to read yours a little more as well. I haven’t spent any time in Subotica, other then to passing through there on my way up to Budapest from Belgrade on the train for a weekend. There are so many great places for you to discover in Serbia, I was only there a short time, but I would recommend Novi Sad, for a day trip, Budapest, and obviously, Belgrade, which is so rich, socially, and really, really, fantastic! I think you will really come to love Serbia over time, although it definitely is Foreign. Enjoy your adventure, and keep up your awesome blog! Hope you find lots of good info on Serbia from some of my posts. Good luck to you and Chris! 🙂

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