Today is 17 March, 2022. The 22nd anniversary of my sobriety. I had a notable meditation and chant this morning, and when I had finished, I reflected on where I was all those years ago…metaphorically speaking. I was tired of running, from myself and my lying. The sun and breeze here on the balcony bathed me in a newer sense of self…. with each day’s meditation, I am reworked into a sliver of a different person. I began to think about the growth, from those early days of sobriety, when I was still a child, and having matured into who I had become after 5 or 6 years. I certainly wouldn’t be here in this geographical location, had I not remained sober. Still flawed, and a little boy, in a few respects…it’s alright. I realized that I miss my friends and family, the connections that I made on cleaner – truer ground. A had become the person that I had been “mis-aiming” for. Without any steadfast guidance, I would revert back to that little boy who didn’t want to see what he had become. I am extremely grateful for those that supported me, my sponsor “Big Gare”, and the many “true” friends that I learned how to stay sober from.
On Wednesday past, I rode into Durres again and walked through the Old Town. This place, among countless others, is where our Western civilization incubated. The Greeks from Corinth colonized this flat plain on the Adriatic around the 7th century BCE. The port then was further developed by the Romans, and Durres became an integral and eesential part of the Empire. They even continued the Via Appia into the interior of the Balkan Peninsula – Via Egnatia; leading to Constantinople in the east. As a reult of where it is (as mentioned in an earlier blog), rhis city was was fought over by the Bulgarian, Venetian, and Ottoman conquerors. My niece Laura pointed out that a few more photos would be nice, and I will do my best to include the Venetian Towers, and other landmarks of the past.
Most mornings, I head down to Leo Grocery. It is a small beach store, that caters to the droves of tourists during season. It is still sparsely stocked, but that’s fine. I get small thngs from Leo and just up the street I go to Shkodra Market for meat,cheese, veggies, and fruit. Leo is a young guy that runs the store for his parents, and he has become a friend. He is quick to let me know how to navigate the area, what to look for, and how to blend in. He makes the best cup of Turkish coffee. To boot, he has indenialbly, the best cat around. Thume’ (Too-may) is a cat that thinks he’s a dog. While having conversation, and coffee, Thume’ either lays in my lap, or sits at the top of the steps. He know when I’m about to finish my coffee, and gets the last licks on the cup. He leans into me and purrs like a diesel engine. There are quite a few of loose dogs here in the neighborhood, but they don’t come too near the corner where the store is. Thume’ is a “certified bad-ass” in my book.
After coffee with Leo, and anyone that happens by, I head down to the beach. It is really about 20 meters (20/22 yards) and very close. I usually sit on an elevated patio that juts out onto the beach – unused as yet. I like to sit for a little while and watch the sea, the people, and then I will get up and walk for a half hour or so. I will stop again, and get a different perspective on the sea. It always looks blue, shimmering, and enchanting. Thume’ will come along, or show up a little after I get there. I will pet him and talk to him, while he purrs seemingly through a 100-watt amp. He will come around in front of me and lay on the sand at my feet, slowly going into another of his many cat-naps. The best thing to observe is the way the dogs behave when they see him. As I mentioned, there are many dogs that run loose around here, no threat – just the culture. As the dogs approach me, big or little doesn’t matter; they spot Thume’ and instantly veer off. Leo says that Thume’ means “small nail”. I suggested that his name should be “small hammer”. It is very cool the see the respect (or fear) that he commands from the bigger canines.
While we were having coffee yesterday, a fellow came to shop and sat with us on the porch for coffee. He was a gregarious, and happy fellow. His name is Ahni. It turns out that he lives in the building that I am staying in. He is back in Albania after nearly 10 years in China. He speaks Mandarin, among 4/5 other languages. We will all meet today for coffee in a little bit (it’s 9:30 here now…3:30 in Chicago/US). We don’t swing to Daylight Savings until the end of March. I have no idea why, so for now I’m only 6 hours ahead of you all back home (at least the Midwest). Tomorrow I will move to the “big apartment” that I originally rented. Due to a scheduling mix-up I ended in this studio that I am currently occupying. I really like it here, now that it is warm enough to be out on my balcony, even though I can hardly see the water…on the backside of the building. So then I will be on the sea-side and will have better photos to share. I promised Laura more photos.
I walked through this gate a few times, because I’m a history geek that way, and because it felt somewhat symbolic for me. It is important to me to connect with my history on this foray into a world unkown to me. “My history” is a history observed as a human being. I’ve said in the past that “we are spiritual beings having a human experience..not the other way around”. I believe that statement to be true, and I often cite my dear friend Sean O’keefe for putting that mantra in my head. There has been a greater development in my study of the past, as I have become more of a Macro-historian than a study in any specific period or movement in time. I am becoming more aware of the “folly of being human”; complete with our character flaws and also the built-in strengths of the human species. It is odd that I started out on this trip to “kill some time” and now have become active in seeking the history around me. There is an obelisk, or statue to see nearby. I will maybe walk out and find it today. I had a nice Whatsapp-facetime with my friend Peter S., the Slovak Ambassador the other night. I will join him for lunch next Tuesday in Durres. The hotel he chose seems a tad out of my milieu, I’m still not quite hoi-polloi yet; given some time it could change…just “hoi” is ok with me. Until my next post, sometime this weekend, I am thankful for those who are following me and wish you well. Please take of each other.