What I dreaded in the beginnings of each journey was reaching the last destination only to realize my precious cities were like people, in that they would only appear different at first glance. My greatest fear was I would find their souls to be, after scratching the Gothic or Baroque exteriors, very much the same; that it would once again be proven that no distinctiveness can be found in the whole diameter of 12,756 kilometers, give or take a mile or two.
I refused to acknowledge other explanations for my chronic despondency, other than the almost biological dislike of my hometown. As if from the other side of a shop window, I was looking into the bucolic tapestries of my friends’ new lives: lives they were weaving row by row, colorful, sometimes even to the point of being tacky. The urge to tear the very threads that fastened me to the Earth was present, more than ever, in mine. Without other cities, I would have nowhere to run to when the knitting threatened to unravel, no new colors to challenge what I thought would only ever be grey.
A couple of years and countless traveled miles later, Zagreb embraced me in its rich, October afternoon – the kind you can only ever get in this small slice of the world: red, yellow and orange splashes against a backdrop of deep-emerald pines in the parks of the old town. After writing of other places and speaking in foreign languages, it felt good to have nowhere in particular to be and nothing new to see. To sit with another person without having to talk, or “I am so and so, this is what I do, I come from, I am going to…”
Familiarity does not necessarily negate uniqueness, it occurred to me. Then, as an afterthought, an overgrown child’s apology. City of mine, I know, I’ve been unfair to you.