I am sorry, dear readers, to end our journey with this post. I had not anticipated it.
I would not say that every Balkan-American marriage will end this way, not even most I hope. Just this one.
It's hard for me because I am giving up not just a marriage and close relationships with step-children, but also two countries. Croatia, the country of my husband's birth and his soul's home, and Serbia the country of his adulthood and in many ways the home of my dreams.
Often the cultural differences held us together, so we were never bored with each other, as much as they impaired our ability to communicate truly. One thing's for sure, you'll never gain a certain perspective on your own culture until you marry someone from another.
Some very basic concepts, what is a wife, what is a husband ... are profoundly different in everyday life, although perhaps not in their greater meanings. The Puritan work ethic, a moral fabric of the region I'm from, is considered nonessential, even absurdly silly, by many people from my husband's region. While Balkan-style drinking, well that's judged differently here. The whole Slavic dark moodiness, not to mention the Serbian sense of destined "victim-hood", well, we Americans just don't have those in our think-positive ethos, which must sometimes seem simple-minded to those outside of us.
We also shoot straight with our words, like John Wayne with his gun. You can't read between the lines, or see a conspiracy, or decipher a deeper, different message. We say what we think and that's it. It must be confusing for someone for whom every conversation has Byzantine layers of meaning. They're sifting for what you really meant, when it's plain in front of their faces. In return, I'd take conversations at face value, to learn later I'd been making assumptions that were 180 degrees from the truth.
I've gained a lot from this marriage. I know that. Travel, meeting new people, looking up from my desk to the sunny skies above, the family singalongs, you name it. I'll miss Sombor most of all. I look at pictures of it online and they move me to tears. I even have fantasies about moving there by myself... but without speaking fluent Srpski that's a crazy dream.
I want those of you who are personal friends of mine to know everything's alright. I have my family, my friends, my lovely home in the US, and a career that fits me well. For me right now it feels like the sun after a hurricane. Pleasant and sweet. The landscape seems strange, with big old trees blown down. But soon enough it will feel normal again.
It's time to build a new life. And American that I am, I just went out and bought a new car. I'm going to have fun tooling around in her, exploring a new life here.
I really truly enjoyed writing this blog. Sometimes when I was adrift, traveling about in foreign places, it helped anchor me. And I adored meeting so many of you who wrote comments and letters, as well as being a sort of mini-spokesperson for Serbia for those who wanted to know more about the country. But that's it for me now. I'd feel a fraud if I continued. Perhaps someday I'll begin again. But not, I think at this URL.