I found this tonight in my journals from Albania. I had almost forgotten about this weekend. This is why I write things down...
Last night there was a get together at my apartment (actually, our apartment, now that my roommate, Malwine, has moved in). A handful of us gathered together around some homemade cookies- Bobby’s recipe, so he was there in spirit. Malwine had made them earlier, with us watching through the oven glass and curled up against it for the warmth. I’m not ashamed to admit that we meowed like cats at one point, mocking the fact that we were this excited to feel warmth. Drinks and an electric heater rounded out the amenities, and soon friends were trickling in out of the cold.
We lounged on the couches, leaning in close towards the heater and talking about pointless things, unwinding from the week, eating cookies and crackers and swapping drinks to taste. A two liter Coke bottle filled with raki sat in the middle of the coffee table: from the contents to the recycled receptacle, it was truly a perfect centerpiece for a gathering in Albania. Tiara and Joe eventually headed out with Malwine and her friend, Katarina, to scope out the live music on hand at Tirana Ekspres. Kevin, Scott, Robert, and I stayed together for a bit longer, discussing the inadvertently political work landscape in which we found ourselves, and considering the merits of a local blog consisting of pictures of Tirana's dumpsters.
Once the cookies had been eaten down into a shape occupying less space, a candle was added to the baking sheet, allowed to drip onto the parchment paper. It was far from late but had been dark for hours, and between the wine and the cold and the rain we found ourselves dozing. Kevin drained his last glass of wine- from a peanut butter jar, repurposed, like the Coke bottle- and headed out for home, leaving just us neighbors. Scott wasn’t long for this world, and somehow summoned the fortitude to walk the 6 steps from my door to his with Robert’s help. I stayed up a bit longer, curled up by the heater, and Skyped with Bobby before taking my turn to crawl in to bed.
I’m filled with gratitude for the freedom I have in my day to day life, and all the things that make it possible. I live in a place where I can nonchalantly and realistically say things like “If I’m not in Kosovo this weekend….” or “Should we go to Greece or Montenegro for winter break?” or “That weekend in Macedonia was amazing”.
Despite my short time here, impromptu social gatherings easily materialize, with little planning or effort. The pace of my evenings and weekends is exactly what I choose to make of it, from laid back naps and books after work to dinner and dancing or weekend road trips. I sleep in as I choose, I stay up late when I want, I go out to eat or cook elaborate meals, and I get to do it all while traveling and teaching and spending time with amazing people.
I like living organically, with the ability to say yes when I want to do something and no when I don’t want to, with the flexibility to change my mind at the last minute for a new plan. It seems so simple, but that’s a luxury many people don’t have. I’m trying not to take it for granted. I’m trying to be aware of what a privilege it is.
It’s cold and rainy, and my bed is warm, and I’m going to sleep without setting an alarm so I can enjoy a morning of sleeping in. Nothing I just wrote really captures what I want to say, but it comes close to catching the sides of this feeling I can’t wrap my hands around.
Life is good.