“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around every once in a while, you could miss it”– Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
On Wednesday morning, I was thinking about how lucky I was that in my time here in Bosnia, I have not had to deal with any real emergencies back home. My grandparents aren’t in the best health, but my grandpa promised me before I left, “Don’t worry, we won’t die when you are away.” So far that promise has held true, and I was thinking about that Wednesday morning when I left for work.
Don’t ever think that you are lucky like that. I came home Wednesday after a perfectly fine day of teaching–for the first time in a while, I felt like a competent human being–only to see that my friend Kayla’s father posted a strange message on her Facebook wall. “We love you baby… rest in peace.” Kayla and I hadn’t been touch in a while, which is why I didn’t know she was ill, but we were Residence Assistants together back when we were at William & Mary. Being an RA was my least-favorite job that I have ever had, but I worked with a really incredible group of people, including Kayla, who made it a tremendous amount of fun. She was such a wonderful person who I could always count on to exchange incredulous looks at staff meetings, and we had so many great times together–from pumpkin picking to soliciting donations for this crazy block party that none of us really wanted to have to dealing with some very special residents. She was going to go on to do really great things, and now she won’t have that chance. She was two months younger than I am.
In a way, I almost feel guilty for being so upset over Kayla’s death–and guiltier still for using it as a springboard for my blog. We hadn’t talked in months, and to be honest, I’m not sure if our lives would ever have intersected concretely again, besides hugs at Homecoming and college reunions. I just feel so sad for her parents, her brother, the rest of her friends, the life that she never lived, and the memories of our time together. Now, I am the only one who remembers our conversations and laughter.
Sometimes, my life here in Bosnia feels so fleeting. Sarajevo is a city of short-term foreigners–people come here to work in international development for a few years, not to live. To them, staying here for nine months is a long time. However, for my friends from Sarajevo, however, nine months is nothing–barely long enough to have a real friendship. To make things worse, I know that I will be replaced as the Fulbright ETA at FIN next year–and what if that person is a better teacher or a better friend than I have been? Will anyone remember me? However short it seems, though, a lot can happen in nine months. Friends and relatives move and change their lives and pass away. It’s enough time for new lives to begin–and old lives to change forever.
In a way, I am excited to go back to the US and restart my “real life” with David, but the more ties I make here, the harder it is to think about leaving. Right now, I feel like half of my life is in the US, and half of my life is here in Sarajevo. I hate the fact that my time here is so short and fleeting, but in a way, I almost feel like it has to be that way. For a few shining minutes last week, before I was forced to face reality, it seemed like I would be staying in Sarajevo for a second year, and that prospect was honestly completely terrifying. I am so incredibly glad and lucky that I have had the opportunity to spend part of my life living and learning here (and that I have the freedom to leave and return in the future), but, like everything else, being caught between two countries also has its downsides. While I am here in Bosnia, I am missing engagements and weddings and milestones (and funerals) back in the US. When I go back to the US, I know most of my friendships with people in Sarajevo will continue, but I will continue to miss weddings and engagements and milestones back in Bosnia. Life goes on, whether I am on one continent or the other. I have seen so many beautiful things and met so many beautiful people both in the US and in Bosnia, but that means I have so many more beautiful things and people to love (which is in itself, a bittersweet thing) and to miss. To quote Adele, “Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste?”
Not so many pictures this time around (my phone went on the fritz and is currently in my friend’s apartment being fixed), but here are a few from a day trip to Herzegovina earlier this month (PC: Jasminko) and one from happier times at W&M: