Every night 'A' and I head out for a walk to the beach. There we search for crabs and watch them navigate and side step their sea world. We remark at the size of the ones we spot. They blend into the rocks at times making it hard to spot them but when we do I become more excited then I want to admit.
I never grew up by the water. I'm not a strong swimmer and the beach doesn't really exist where I am from. The wonders of sea shells, sand, crabs and the salt water were never the wonders I had as a child.
Growing up in a busy city 30 minutes from Toronto there was nothing tropical or sea-like anywhere. A lake filled with dirty water that would make even the bravest person cringe is all I have ever known of the beach.
Here I am surrounded by the sea. The sound of wind rustling through the sails of boats. The smell of salt that I can almost feel on my lips. It's everywhere. Everywhere I go I can see the sea.
Two night ago it rained. It rained here like I have never seen it rain before. I have been to visit my grandmothers island 5 times now and have never experienced a thunderstorm yet.
The rumble was loud like Grecian Gods were fighting in the sky. I ran out to see the sea lit up by bolts of lightening. The wind was howling and 'A' and I raced to move some objects outdoors that we feared might blow around from the strong winds.
It's been colder then usual here this year and the locals complain about how cold the days are. I can't tell the difference because to me it's warm.
'A' spends his days working and I spend most of my days now editing. I still haven't adjusted to the time change just yet and I find myself awake and sleepy in the strangest of times.
Some days I am overwhelmed. As strange as that sounds. Being away from home makes all of my worries feel like they are on pause and I find myself thinking about the dread I might feel when I am back home again and those worries come back to me.
Some days I pass old places on the island that I frequented with my island friends when I was fifteen. My parents sent me to Croatia because of all the problems my teenage self were creating for them. I remember my mother telling me it was only a 3 week trip. That I was going because I needed to meet my family that lived across the world.
Half way through the trip I found out I was going to be in Europe for almost the entire summer. I remember storming out of the house running down a street crying to the sky. Cursing my parents. Hating that I was sent away with no regard for my feelings.
I laugh now thinking about it. Who's parents send them "away" on a European vacation as punishment. My connection to some of these places send me into a deep state of nostalgia and I catch myself telling 'A' the same stories over and over again.
"There is where me and my friends would party all night long". "Over there is where one of the guys would set down his boom box". I show him all of our "party" spots.
I remember walking home from the beach after a night of being a teenager and doing all those bad things teens do. I remember stumbling back to my home at 3am down stone paved roads. Smelling the air and feeling safer then I ever have. I remember stumbling into the kitchen making myself a bowl of corn flakes and thinking about how novel life was.
Now I stand by the beach. I examine all the things that have changed about the places I once roamed. I think about how passionate, how emotional how intense my feelings back then were. I remember the stories the teens would tell me. Some were from other places in Croatia, another boy was from South Africa. There were so many stories. So much liveliness. We were young.
I snap out of it and realize just how old I have become.
My grandmother takes us the longest way ever through the blazing hot sun to her cousins house. She wants to give gifts to their grandchildren. 'A' asks me why we went around the entire island to make it to a house that was 5 minutes away from ours. I can't answer because truly I don't understand why my grandmother does what she does. I can only chop it down to the fact that she wanted to get out of the house. Her legs are getting worse and she needs to exercise them.
At her cousins we talk about life, Croatia, kids and so much more. 'A' sits quietly as he doesn't understand Croatian and can't speak it. My brain works over time as I try to translate my own words.
There I watch the little girls playing and snap pictures of them. One of the girls is ever so keen to show me her collection of beetles. She tells me she found them in the garden and has now collected them in a shoe box.
Her feet are shoe-less and she lets a lady bug crawl up her arm. She look at me every time I raise my camera and she welcomes it. She isn't shy. Her spirit and exploration is exactly how I imagine my child will be. Or maybe exactly how I want my future child to be.
Petra comes back to the house and brings her sister Andjela with her. A few days ago they asked if I could take pictures of them together. So we hang out around the island and I snapped the sisters. Petra has become a pro now and she even starts to creative direct her sister. We laugh and make jokes.
It's a lot of fun and I am happy to get to be out shooting. Everyone on the island stares at us. No one minds when we trespass onto their property. People are rather entertained by something they don't see often.
It's such a difference. I tell 'A' how a man stopped to watch and told us that we chose a beautiful flower bush to photograph in front of. We offer to move to let him pass but he insists he isn't bothering us and that he's interested in watching. He even starts to point out other spots to shoot.
'A' says it's not like Canada. People are proud of their land and their heritage here and welcome photography. They are happy that the "young people" in the village are doing something interesting. Youth is embraced here much more then in America/Canada. Or at least that's what I find.
I've started wearing my grandmothers shoes because they are comfortable and we have always had the same size foot.
Our nights always end the same. Crab hunting. Then hanging out before sleep takes us. Last night 'A' and I talked about life and death and our beliefs about life in general. I wonder why those intense conversations always happen before bed.
We've officially been living in Croatia for 10 days now making it a home away from home and forgetting about our home in Canada. I stop and realize that it's going by fast and in 14 days we'll be in Geneva then France and then we'll be in the UK for a whole new adventure.
Time feels slow and smooth but I just know things will become fast paced and intense soon.