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Monday, 10 November 2014 12:58

Why do we fall in love with cities? Featured

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A while ago I was watching a movie with my girlfriends. One of them shared that she is fascinated by the fact that the cities we visit do not cease to live after we leave. However, we never get a chance to notice that. We do not take seriously all the billboards announcing plays and movies in grand theatres and cinemas of Paris, London or Vienna to whom we are just another backpacker. It is almost as everything is only an illusion that will never come alive and is nothing but an announcement because that is the way it is supposed to be, since we are there only for a week – and maybe never again. It is as if from next Monday everything will be the same again. It is as if next week the city won't embrace some other backpackers and charm them in the exact same way.

Makarska is the city I keep coming back to my entire life. I've called it home since 2003, when I called the bed next to the red wall my own and arranged all of my shoes in the wardrobe with the beginning of that summer. I was just a girl who used to sleep with a teddy bear and spend her nights eating ice creams in Romana from 9 pm to 11 pm, which is when the waiters would politely send me and my girls home. My mother used to scream at me not to run across the stairs while my feet are still wet. The Buba Beach was considered to be the last one in the row and there were two or three hotels lees than there are now. There was a little forest in front of my driveway and the building was counting only a few tenants.

A few years later I decided to let go of my teddy bear and gave it to my sister. I started sleeping with a phone under my pillow (or not sleeping at all, for that matter). Romana ice cream was now a part of my daily schedule. The nights became much more interesting. I used to bring a whole army of my girlfriends to Makarska with me. We used to go out at midnight so we can walk the Riva countless times just to see as many people from our hometown as possible. It is kind of funny how everyone from Mostar goes to Makarska so that they could „rest“ and „be away from everyone“, being fully aware that everyone does exactly the same. Walking up and down the stairs was not my mother's concern anymore. My neighbor started getting severe headaches because me and my beautiful friends used to bring New York Fashion Week to those stairs, running up to fetch the mascara, then down to grab the hairbrush, then up again to put on just a little more perfume…  All of which we did in high heels. The waiters didn't mind us anymore, not only because we learned how to smile seductively, but also because there was more than an ice cream on our table now. My neighborhood turned into Beverly Hills with colorful buildings where young people spent evenings singing to a guitar. I discovered Cubano beach which wasn't that famous at the time. Only locals used to go there, and I was proud to say I felt like one of them.

For me, Makarska was a place where I could cry, laugh, be alone and meet amazing people. And every single time all these things would keep up with me and the changes I was going through. The waiters got wrinkles on their faces and children in their arms. Kids from my neighborhood grew up and left the streets to the new kids to play at 8 am just under my bedroom window. I remember showing my hangover face at the window and asking them to be quiet, and being told that only slackers sleep until noon. Cubano became much more famous, leaving all the tourists breathless with its stunning sunset.

I know that someday I will walk the stairs in my apartment very slowly, with swollen feet. I know I will say to my kids the same things my mother used to say to me. But my city with whom I fell in love years ago, when my dad took me to the blue slide, it will stay the same. It will only grow old with me. I can see myself sitting in the yard, breathing in the smell of the most unique air in the world and talking to my city. We will remember how it used to throw me the sunniest welcome parties, whether in December or July. We will talk about when I stopped coming there with my beautiful girls and started taking long early morning walks with the man I love. My city taught me to buy fresh fish from the boats, letting the dawn shine upon young versions of me, coming out of Marineta, laughing and running with high heels in their hands. I will come to realize that I am much more than a tourist in Makarska because I started attending plays and concerts. I will come to realize that I can make decisions with my city, just like I can make them with the man I love.

And that is why we fall in love with them – because cities are just like people. Some of them are out of our league and we never want to know everything about them. We want to think of them as of fantasies we never fulfill. We do not want to change them and we do not want them to change us. We most certainly do not call them our own. They are always somebody else's, always someone else with whom we are different people. Others we know too well. We know every little stone they hide and we are not afraid to sleep next to them. We tell them about our fears, cry on their shoulders when disappointment strikes us, because we know that they will never be a part of that disappointment. We think of them when we are away, miss them, include them in our plans for future and talk about them with a spark in our eyes. Cities, just like people, have souls. And we do love both of them – those made of flesh and bones, and those made of people and stones.

And with both of them, without exception, we spend the most beautiful morning walks.

Yes, it is possible for a person to feel home in more than one city. I can say that with absolute certainty, as a girl raised and loved by two irreplaceable Ms - Mostar and Makarska.  When I dream of home, which I always do, I dream of them.


Text by: Jelena Božić

Photos by: Matko Begović

Read 2306 times Last modified on Tuesday, 11 November 2014 10:44
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